Monday, July 2, 2012

Maybe we're being punished for our arrogance.

For me, the zombie film, is the best type of horror. I could watch a good one anytime. It feels like they've been officially cool again for the last ten years or so. When I was a kid The Return of the Living Dead, my first exposure to the undead, got me hooked (though it's probably horrible now). The more recent mainstream stuff like 28 Days Later, Snyder's Dawn of the Dead and even Zombieland have been decent, but nothing has been flat-out great (if you mention any of the Resident Evil flicks, I will bite your face off). My favorite one of all (and a personal top 20 of all time) happens to be Shaun of the Dead, but as great as it was, it wasn't very scary. The search continues...

My second film of the June 30th triple feature, the eggnog if you will, attempted to fill that void. Guess what? I'm still looking.

Credibility Hit #1,985: I've never seen a minute of The Walking Dead.
The Dead tries. It does. It's obviously low-budge, but there are some cool things going on. Namely, the setting. Sure, if you've played Resident Evil 5, it's not altogether surprising, but Africa is a very cool place to witness the outbreak of zombie-induced mayhem. Maybe the impact is lessened a bit, because it's not where I live, but the barren environment is harsh enough. Throw in flesh-eating bastards and the odds are overwhelmingly horrible.

Let me say it now, I love bleak. I love hopelessness. Happy endings are great in real life, but in movies? Give me an ending like The Mist anyday.

Here's what you need to know: A white guy must get back to the United States to see his family. A black guy, not super fond of the whiteman in general, must find his son. White Guy, is an engineer, and was on the last flight out of Africa. Black Guy, was a soldier, who arrived home just after the zombies destroyed his village. These guys must work together to survive and reach their families. But damned if those slow-ass zombies don't have other plans for them.

Here's the one thing that they do cover, that scares the shit out of me. The moment where someone in your family is turned. Now, I'm not talking about weird uncle or random in-law, no, I'm talking about wife or son type of stuff. In the theater it's all shoot the bitch! but in reality I think I'd just turn the gun on myself. Maybe I should just get turned too. Then we could all shuffle around and devour flesh together. It's basically like being on vacation.

Well, let's get on with it then. Here are the brain hungry Yays and Boos, I-think-they're-going-to-ruin-World-War-Z style.

This isn't a still. This is streaming footage from the movie.
  • It opens strongly. The initial not-shooting of the zombie and the plane crash start things off on the right note. And by the way, not having enough ammo? Total Resident Evil [the game] nod.
  • The violence. Low budget, yes. Effective? Yep. You can't be mad when somebody gets shot directly in the face. Well, unless it's you.
  • Sorry, more violence to cheer for. Fire extinguisher kill, numerous vehicular deaths. And that's before the machete makes an appearance.
  • As a fan of bleak, let me tell you, there is a part in this flick where our main man is handed a baby. Seriously? You're alone in an African desert, surrounded by zombies (okay - that doesn't make sense, shut it) and now you're responsible for a newborn, too? That's f--king horrible/awesome.
  • Dude. These zombies? They are everywhere. Everywhere. And they move with the utmost stealth.
  • They are trying to conserve ammo, so it's cool that they just don't shoot every poor bastard they see - it is. But there's this one part where one of the guys shoots a random zombie in the chest from fifty feet away. It doesn't phase him, or them. It's so great. Imagine you sit down to dinner and punch your mom in the face and everybody, including your mom, continues the meal as normal.
  • Finally! The ending. It might have been painful (at times) to get there, but the last shot is killer.
Beards. Letting you know time has passed in films since forever.
  • Our main man, Rob Freeman (the white guy), is a pretty horrible actor. He shoots an attacking zombie in the face and the relief on his face suggests oh, I do have my car keys not holy f--k, that zombie almost ate my face.
  • I'm pretty sure if I bit your arm right now, the flesh wouldn't peel right off. I guess everyone who was turned had razor sharp piranha teeth. Makes sense, I guess.
  • I like the slow zombies...but these guys? It takes more effort to roll your eyes than to sidestep these goofballs.
  • Unless a jump scare is needed. Then these dudes can hustle.
  • As much as the baby stuff floored me, there's a problem. Is one of the requisites for being a professional film editor the inability to discern the difference between a real and fake newborn?
  • The black guy, while at least game, is essentially the poor man's Djimon Hounsou. Where'd that guy go, anyway? He was incredible in Amistad. And even Deep Rising, minus the axe to the face bit.
Bottom Line: A great zombie film is hard to find. Maybe once a year, a decent one can be tracked down. The Dead might not be for everyone, but I liked it enough. The zombie action is sweet at first, but then it gets stale and hard to swallow.

Again, that's movie two of the triple feature, this one occurring as my wife and son were at the grocery store (it's all coming full circle). By the way, my son is incredibly allergic to milk and eggs. Think about it.


  1. For me the best zombie movies from recent years are 28 days later and Dawn of the Dead. Shaun of the dead is awesome too, but as you said, it's more of a comedy, thought the intestines pulling of one of the guys was quite shocking.

    1. Yeah that bit of Shaun was alarming fir sure.

      The rage monsters of 28 Days later were awesome, as was the emptiness of everything.

      Dawn's opening chaos was in incredible! It would've have been impossible to maintain it though...and eventually the action hovered in 'okay' territory.