Author Topic: God damn it, zombie films!  (Read 5539 times)

alan nagsworth

  • even the bombs and scarecrows will sing
God damn it, zombie films!
« on: March 05, 2012, 11:47:35 AM »
I need some decent zombie goodness.

PREFIX:

Recently my boss recommended Pontypool saying it was "really weird, and a proper interesting zombie concept. You like weird things, you'll really like it!" so I watched the trailer and there's not much to assume other than it looks alright. I went into it expecting the trailer to be deliberately underwhelming and mysterious, but I was wrong. DEAD WRONG. Me and a mate watched it last night and it was largely awful. It's all set in a radio shack with a total cast of about six people, three of whom are gradually getting reports in of a large scale disturbance. The only information they get is over the phone. I'm so close to not giving a fuck about spoilers for this stupid film but yeah basically the virus is [spoiler]transmitted through words rather than blood[/spoiler] which initially sounds like it could work, but the makers of this film just completely went off the rails with some stoned concept of [spoiler]'dude! what if the virus was language? DUDE! what if it was just the english language?! DUDE!!!! WHAT IF IT WAS JUST CERTAIN WORDS[/spoiler] until it becomes such a vague and directionless idea that you care less than if it had remained a complete mystery throughout. The acting was awful, numerous terrifying/tragic events transpire in mere moments with little regard for emotion or surprise, and everyone's lacklustre and nonchalant attitude in the face of the apocalypse was the most shocking thing this film had to offer. In the end I didn't really give a fuck about the zombies or the people or anything at all. A roughly interesting concept completely shat on. Not a complete injustice, rather a dashed hope and a waste of time.

Here we go with the problem, then:

Injustices in zombie fiction are out there in droves, and the last three films of "Zomfather" George Romero have gradually descended from bad to tedious to absolutely fucking abysmal. Survival Of The Dead is, somewhat depressingly, easily the worst zombie film I've ever seen, especially considering the status of its maker. I laughed all the way through and then when it ended I just got really bummed out and sad that Romero clearly has developed some kind of undead dementia, an onset artistic decline akin to watching an elderly relative reach the last couple of years of their life.

There have been a few sparingly great forays into the genre over the last decade, most notably Charlie Brooker's outstanding Dead Set and of course 28 Days Later, as well as 2005's Tokyo Zombie - which is very much an offbeat Japanese comedy as much as it is a zombie film, but one which was not completely without charm and I actually ended up with a fair bit of respect for it afterwards. It was a lot of fun! Then of course in the same comedy vein you have Shaun Of The Dead which is arguably decent. Personally I thought it did great justice to the genre and yeah I also thought it was very funny and remains very funny to this day.

However, I have urges and I can't help but maintain this love/hate relationship with The Walking Dead, where I hold out so much hope for it every time and yet am only rarely satisfied with it. It hits just enough for me to invest my faith and time in it, but when it frequently misses I just despair at it. As much as I love traditionalist zombie flicks like Night Of The Living Dead and Zombie Flesh Eaters I'm becoming increasingly interested in new concepts. This is something nicely peppered throughout The Walking Dead which I imagine is perfect in the graphic novels, but only merely shines among a large pile of dross and inactivity in the TV show. 28 Days Later executed their fresh idea with aplomb but Pontypool really did not, despite me actually getting seriously excited about it based on the reviews and trailer.

So Come My Fanatics, keep the dead alive and unearth some truly great/unsung/unique zombie films for us to feast? no that's enough zombie puns ENJOY.

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2012, 12:07:28 PM »
I would have a look at the Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Movies: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema – a very decent guide to the genre. I can’t say that I agree with all of the author’s opinions, but it’s an excellent read.

One film I would recommend is a Czech one, Choking Hazard - very, very good indeed – but I’m not sure what you’re looking for.

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
    • International Syndicate of Cult Film Critics
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2012, 12:22:15 PM »
I love "The Zombie Dead" (it may have been released under a different name), an old Italian one from back in the day. It just starts off crazy and keeps going - one guy helpfully drops in the middle of a conversation "of course, we know to kill zombies by shooting them in the head", and there's a splendidly creepy mother/son relationship.

Harpo Speaks

  • Will Breev 4 Food
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2012, 12:31:34 PM »
I'm becoming increasingly interested in new concepts.

I can't recommend it because I haven't seen it, but there is an extremely low budget british film called Colin, the twist being that the film is told from the Zombie's point of view.

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2012, 01:31:03 PM »
I rather liked Undead, an Australian film – it picked up some not very good reviews from mainstream reviewers, but the reaction from horror publications and websites was a lot more positive.

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2012, 01:32:59 PM »
Wasting Away (AKA Aaah! Zombies) looks like an interesting take on the zombies. It is told from the zombies point of view, only occassionally changing perspective to see things from everyone else's point of view.

Zombie Honeymoon is a surprisingly serious (given the title) film about living with a zombie.

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2012, 01:35:50 PM »
I can't recommend it because I haven't seen it, but there is an extremely low budget british film called Colin, the twist being that the film is told from the Zombie's point of view.

It isn't really from the zombie's POV, but he is a sympathetic character. I don't remember much about it to be honest, except that I enjoyed it while I watched it. This lack of rememberance is probably more down to me than the film

Paaaaul

  • Thumb off
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2012, 01:38:28 PM »
Talked to a friend about this last night after watching the drivel that is Zombieland. The only excellent zombie products of the last 10 years, in my mind, are the Rec films.

Pontypool was weird. I wanted to like it but it goes so far off the tracks into wrongville that I wouldn't recommend it to the most devoted horror film fanatic.

 Colin is another film that I went into with goodwill, but it's really slow and dull. It should have been a short.

Wasting Away is fucking awful. Avoid.

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2012, 01:44:24 PM »
Dellamorte Dellamore

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2012, 01:45:02 PM »
Fido is another one I’d recommend – basically, the setting is reminiscent of   1950’s Cold War America, but the menace are zombies, rather than red. Good cast that features Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss and Dylan Baker – plus, Tim Blake Nelson as a Hunter S. Thompson kind of neighbour.

Wasting Away (AKA Aaah! Zombies) looks like an interesting take on the zombies. It is told from the zombies point of view, only occassionally changing perspective to see things from everyone else's point of view…

One of my friends keeps going on about that one (in a good way) – he’s a huge fan.

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2012, 01:48:06 PM »

alan nagsworth

  • even the bombs and scarecrows will sing
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2012, 01:54:55 PM »
Cheers for the recommendations and banter, keep it comin'!

I've just remembered, another film in the myriad of piss-awful drivel my boss had unnecessarily excited about (seriously, I'm not trusting his judgement any more) was the Norwegian Dead Snow. Now that really is an injustice to the genre. Nazi zombies? Not having to play some stupid shoot-em-up on the Xbox just to see them? Sounds ideal to me, but alas, NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! Tries so hard to pay homage to all the greats by using the 'Z' word completely shamelessly and having one of the characters wear a Braindead shirt. Seems to have a lot more fun picking away at zombie stereotypes (and then completely fucking ruining them) instead of paying any kind of decent parody/tribute. The zombies talk and move as an actual military unit with a sergeant and everything, which is just one of the many ways it could have remained conceptually subtle but instead opted for the sheer no-holds-barred comedy aspect whilst simultaneously forgetting to add any actual comedy into the mix. I was completely baffled by how dreadful it was and how many decent reviews I had read afterwards that praised it so highly. Stay the fuck away.

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2012, 02:02:20 PM »
I love "The Zombie Dead" (it may have been released under a different name), an old Italian one from back in the day. It just starts off crazy and keeps going - one guy helpfully drops in the middle of a conversation "of course, we know to kill zombies by shooting them in the head", and there's a splendidly creepy mother/son relationship.

Ah, Nights of Terror. Terrible film, but an absolute blast. The actor playing the '12 year old boy' has a wonderfully creepy visage (as seen below). I have a particular soft spot for the actress playing his mother, Mariangela Giordano, a real trouper who would suffer any indignity on celluloid for the sake of making an entertaining film.



If you're looking for something different, I can't recommend Dellamorte Dellamore (AKA Cemetery Man) highly enough. It's one of the most original and underrated horror films of the last 20 years. The basic plot (Rupert Everett - no seriously, hear me out, he's really good in this - is a caretaker at a cemetery where the dead rise a couple of days after burial) is established in the first couple of minutes and the film goes to some very strange places from there. It's very funny, very gory and endlessly rewatchable, with an ending that is...umm, audacious, to say the least.

EDIT: Gah, beaten to it! Thirded, then.

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2012, 02:27:00 PM »
… I was completely baffled by how dreadful it was and how many decent reviews I had read afterwards that praised it so highly. Stay the fuck away.

From what I’ve read that, praise was rather more measured – I can’t recall seeing anything that said Dead Snow was wonderful and having a quick look online, ‘not bad’ seemed to be the consensus; I can’t see anything that gilded the lily or made the film out to be something it wasn’t.

The hook was that Nazis were involved, but really it was a pretty standard, enjoyable horror film – nothing made it outstanding and personally, I thought it could be better but there’s a hell of a lot worse out there.

Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2012, 02:37:42 PM »
Fido is another one I’d recommend – basically, the setting is reminiscent of   1950’s Cold War America, but the menace are zombies, rather than red. Good cast that features Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss and Dylan Baker – plus, Tim Blake Nelson as a Hunter S. Thompson kind of neighbour.


Shit, that is what I meant when I talked about Colin above.

alan nagsworth

  • even the bombs and scarecrows will sing
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2012, 02:47:41 PM »
From what I’ve read that, praise was rather more measured – I can’t recall seeing anything that said Dead Snow was wonderful and having a quick look online, ‘not bad’ seemed to be the consensus; I can’t see anything that gilded the lily or made the film out to be something it wasn’t.

The hook was that Nazis were involved, but really it was a pretty standard, enjoyable horror film – nothing made it outstanding and personally, I thought it could be better but there’s a hell of a lot worse out there.

Ha, I'm probably wrong about the reviews then, dunno why I remembered it that way. I think my own personal strong dislike of the film outweighed everything else in my head. I really felt it was one of the poorest 'proper' efforts of recent years, all of its attempts at parody were just really smug and self-satisfied (whereas even through Pegg and Frost's smugness there is a warmth and respect paid to the classics throughout Shaun Of The Dead) and then it goes beyond parody into endless shite and oh my goodness, I really don't like it. No sir!

Paaaaul

  • Thumb off
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2012, 02:50:24 PM »
Dead Snow is one of my favourites of recent zombie films, and I don't particularly like it.

alan nagsworth

  • even the bombs and scarecrows will sing
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2012, 03:04:45 PM »
Ha ha. Man, you guys are crazy.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

VegaLA

  • Spiritual Demon Warfare
    • The Big Dogz LIVE
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2012, 05:34:26 PM »
Nights of Terror brings back some memories. watched this with my parents at their friends house one Saturday night early in the 80s and the scene where the [spoiler]Son bites off his Mother's nipple [/spoiler] had everyone screaming with laughter.
I have a backlog of Zombie films to view, some I know are going to be awful just by the title and cast but i'm determined to get through them all.

My personal faves:

Romero's Dead trilogy
Zombie Flesh Eaters
City of the Living Dead
The Beyond
Resident Evil
Junk (Japanese romp)

For Diehard Zombie fans:

Zombie creeping flesh
Nights of Terror
Dawn of the mummy (yeah, I know!)
The Dead Next Door (aparantly the most expensive student film before DV came about)
Zombi 3 (Fulci walked out on this one)

For Laughs:

Big titted Zombies
Zombie strippers
Death Valley TV show
Onechanbara

Avoid at all costs:

Astro Zombies
Zombie Lake (more Nazi zombies, includes a scene of a zombie crying)
Zombie Diaries

Versus was mentioned in some article the other day, keep meaning to catch this one so I should bump this on my list of must views. Anyone seen this one yet?


Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2012, 09:12:54 PM »
What about Wild Zero

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkWPB6YdK28

ROCK & ROLL

(please note my non-racism)

Dark Sky

  • Hallo you
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2012, 11:30:54 PM »
I thought that Pontypool was one of the most brilliant and most original zombie films I've ever seen.  I absolutely loved it!  This thread therefore SUCKS.

Small Man Big Horse

  • Member
  • **
  • Writers wanted for comedy website, pls click below
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2012, 01:28:09 AM »
The Revenant - It's not a conventional zombie movie by any means but it's absolutely brilliant and I swear you'd love it Nags. Another poster saw it at a film festival a few years back and raved about it hugely so I had high expectations, but it really delivered. It's not out officially on dvd until April 2nd, but can be found elsewhere online.

alan nagsworth

  • even the bombs and scarecrows will sing
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2012, 02:56:39 PM »
I thought that Pontypool was one of the most brilliant and most original zombie films I've ever seen.  I absolutely loved it!  This thread therefore SUCKS.

Seriously? I'm interested to know why you think so. There were times, mostly during the phone conversations, when I was a pretty spooked and also satisfied being swept up by the spreading zombie chaos (which is half of the fun of any good zombie movie), especially where the chopper guy is describing the things he sees throughout the film - which I felt were the only truly redeeming scenes of this film - but the rest of it was severely lacking for me.

The immediate threat was pretty laughable and even when [spoiler]the young girl is right outside the booth all bloodied up and going nuts[/spoiler] I didn't feel intimidated and neither did the cast. Their casual indifference to everything pretty much ruined it, and you can see where the writers tried to make Mazzy cool, calm and collected but instead he just came across as drunk and blissfully unaware of the seriousness of the situation. Additionally, much like The Walking Dead, the pacing was pretty awful and we went for a good twenty minutes between where the zombies come out of nowhere and start trying to break into the building - which in itself was a brief and ineffective scene - to suddenly returning to it later on and suddenly they all break through the glass at the same time. Even though that's kind of a zombie movie cliche, it was executed very poorly.

The low budget restriction is a perfect opportunity to exploit the 'it's what you don't see that's really scary' technique, but they really messed up depicting that threat surrounding the building. The fact that the doctor just finds a way in and no one bats a fucking eyelid was the pinnacle of this for me - is he a zombie? Is he some rampant post-apocalyptic lunatic? No one seems to give a shit about anything in this film. Not their families or friends or zombies or the fact that their friends and families could be zombies by now - de nada. It's interesting because if I recall correctly, Night Of The Living Dead works on an almost identical premise and with a similarly low budget and yet it achieves everything flawlessly. The threat, the mystery, the tension and the plan of action. That film is fucking perfect! Pontypool was for me, however, very far from perfect.

Paaaaul

  • Thumb off
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2012, 03:53:57 PM »
I thought that Pontypool was one of the most brilliant and most original zombie films I've ever seen.  I absolutely loved it!  This thread therefore SUCKS.

For a film about the power of [spoiler]words[/spoiler], it's kind of ironic that the worst part of it is [spoiler]the dialogue[/spoiler].

Dark Sky

  • Hallo you
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2012, 05:34:36 PM »
For me Pontypool wasn't really about zombies.  It's a film about communication, really...about the destructive power of communication, about the breakdown in human relations when speech is taken away, and the deconstruction of the link between word and meaning.  I haven't read the original novel, but I thought the film was extremely well executed and you forget it's pretty much a three handed play.  Sure, the plot is inherently ridiculous, from the concept itself to the mechanics of the German doctor randomly bursting into the station and explaining what's going on.  But I found it fascinating and original and unique.

I'm not going to compare it with Night of the Living Dead.  I adore it, and I adore all the original Romero trilogy.  But those films and Pontypool aren't in the same genre, even if they do both feature zombies.  Night of the Living Dead is obviously a taut thriller, but a big part of its appeal rests on visual, disturbing imagery of zombies; as is true of most zombie films.  Pontypool does something different, and could have gotten away with having no zombies on screen at all.

I haven't read the original novel yet, or heard the radio play they made simultaneously for the BBC, but now I've been thinking about it again I must check those out!

Paaaaul

  • Thumb off
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2012, 06:17:55 PM »
For me Pontypool wasn't really about zombies.

Zombie films rarely are. The best ones never are.

I'm not going to compare it with Night of the Living Dead.  I adore it, and I adore all the original Romero trilogy.  But those films and Pontypool aren't in the same genre, even if they do both feature zombies. 

They are very very similar.
All the Romero films, like Pontypool, take social issues and equate the perpetrators of the issue with non-thinking zombies.
Night Of.. was a post-McCarthy look at individuality and racism, Dawn Of... was a critique of commercialism and greed, and Day Of... covers war and medical research.
Pontypool tries to make a similar point about propaganda and news, but fails badly as detailed nicely by mr nagsworth.

.....and you forget it's pretty much a three handed play. 

I never did. It totally felt like a filmed play. The radio play sounds a much more natural place for this story.

Brundle-Fly

  • I'm so Avant-garden variety
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2012, 07:24:17 PM »
The Revenant - It's not a conventional zombie movie by any means but it's absolutely brilliant and I swear you'd love it Nags. Another poster saw it at a film festival a few years back and raved about it hugely so I had high expectations, but it really delivered. It's not out officially on dvd until April 2nd, but can be found elsewhere online.

I've been looking forward to see this since I read a great write up in Fangoria.

Brundle-Fly

  • I'm so Avant-garden variety
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2012, 07:47:50 PM »
Here are some passable zombie films I've seen recently

The Dead  African zombies lumber around the Serengeti. A bit like The Road.

Siege Of The Dead  German take on 28 Days Later

Mulberry Street Rat faced zombies invade apartment block.

I've yet to see The Horde and Juan Of The Dead which both look skill!

My picks are obviously the first three Romero zombie movies (although Land Of The Dead has its moments), Dawn Of The Dead remake, Day Of The Dead remake is surprisingly not utter pony, (see Night Of The Living Dead in 3D too) Shaun Of The Dead, Hammer's Plague Of The Zombies, Zombie Flesheaters, The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue, The Return Of The Living Dead, The Re-Animator, Fido, Dead Snow and Lifeforce.

And REC, 28 Days Later.

I'm sure I've forgotten some.

I watched Armageddon Of The Dead AKA Risen on Sunday night. So bloody awful it's good etc. Christ, it's bad.

http://www.dailydead.com will cater for your zombie needs.

VegaLA

  • Spiritual Demon Warfare
    • The Big Dogz LIVE
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2012, 08:45:37 PM »

I've yet to see The Horde and Juan Of The Dead which both look skill!


Horde was indeed GREAT! I should have included that in my list above, and the trailer for Juan was enough to pull me in, but have yet to get hold of it.

Dark Sky

  • Hallo you
Re: God damn it, zombie films!
« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2012, 11:27:40 PM »
Zombie films rarely are. The best ones never are. 

They are very very similar.
All the Romero films, like Pontypool, take social issues and equate the perpetrators of the issue with non-thinking zombies.
Night Of.. was a post-McCarthy look at individuality and racism, Dawn Of... was a critique of commercialism and greed, and Day Of... covers war and medical research.

You misunderstand my point.  I meant that Pontypool doesn't feature zombies on screen all that much.  That's what I meant.  Night, Dawn, Day all heavily feature zombies (admittedly Day less so, but makes up for it in the last fifteen minutes with some of the best gore scenes in a horror film ever!).  Nagsworth criticises the scenes with zombies in...and I agree!  As I said, I wish it didn't show any of them on camera at all!

Plus I shall be blasphemous and suggest that the "deeper meaning" in the Romero films is very overhyped.  Obviously it's there to some degree, but really, how satirical is Dawn of the Dead beyond "the zombies walk about the shopping mall just like us capitalist humans do oooh!"?  How much does Night deal with racism beyond "the black guy gets shot at the end"?

Quote
Pontypool tries to make a similar point about propaganda and news, but fails badly as detailed nicely by mr nagsworth.

I don't think it's really about propaganda and news, I think it's about language and the deconstruction of language.  You obviously feel it failed at that, but at the very least you have to admit that it tried.

Quote
I never did. It totally felt like a filmed play.
 

You say that like it's a bad thing!  Many wonderful films feel like filmed plays...12 Angry Men, Resevoir Dogs...  I dunno, in Pontypool I just forget it's three characters.

I still think that film is original and unique.  Sure, there's no visual horror, which is a main draw in zombie films.  But it's an original, intelligent film, and even if you didn't think it was successful, surely it must get credit for trying something new.  Personally, I absolutely adore it, and hate the idea people who haven't seen it might read this thread and decide not to check it out for themselves.  Which is the only reason I'm bothering to defend it, really.