Archive for March, 2010

Down to Hell

by on Mar.31, 2010, under Daily Review

Ryuhei Kitamura’s leverage for funding to shoot the amazing Versus. This is a real gem and one which I’d only ever heard rumour of. Shot 4 years prior to Versus, the film follows a group of four crazy young guys who get their kicks from kidnapping blokes in the city and taking them out to the woods for a game of cat n mouse. But this time, the woods themselves has a neat trick to play on the lads; to return the dead to a living state.

There is little plot here and little in the way of character generation, but this is unimportant. The viewer gets the basic stereotypes which are all too well pigeonholed, but this is for effect. The plot is simplistic, but genius and one later expanded on in Versus. Here, it’s kept simple, but what makes this stand out from the usual Zombie affair is whether these are physical of ethereal; ghostlike although packing a serious punch.

This is a short piece but one which should not go un-noticed. Yes, it’s a stepping stone for Versus, but it shows real talent and character with some brilliant camerawork shot on digital camera with some influence of Raimi thrown in for good measure. Kitamura’s raw talent at play is well worth a look here. The young cast are also convincing and a little dangerous at times. Also worth noting is the ample lashings of gore thrown in, unexpected considering a super low budget.

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Wild Zero

by on Mar.30, 2010, under Daily Review

Rock ‘n Roll is NOT over, baby! Rock ‘n Roll NEVER DIES!

This film is nuts. It’s just crazy, crazy, crazy. I’m not really sure where to begin with this one as it’s just insane. Lets see. Alien invasion, causes meteor show, causing radiation infected humans in Japan to turn into zombie like creatures, craving blood and flesh. Ace, (Masashi Endo) a Rock n Roll fan gets caught up in some dodgy dealings when he accidentally breaks up a gun point showdown between his favourite band and their dangerous, shorts wearing manger, The Captain (Makoto Inamiya). The Captain is out for revenge on Guitar Wolf and his band, whilst Ace heads out into the night only to find romance, although his love interest is a he, dressed as a she. Meanwhile zombies are all over the place, Gun toting chips driving big trucks and exploding heads are order of the day. That’s the basic plot, and I mean basic. There is so much goin’ on here, but it flows so well, with a stunning rock n roll soundtrack. This film is off the rails.

Writer/Director Tetsuro Takeuchi’s one and only movie is a thing of brilliance, striking gold with the first attempt. It’s just a damn shame he’s never followed this up. It’s visually brilliant with some fancy camerawork and snappy editing. Characters are comic book but believable and whilst the plot swings here and there with new characters introduced in what seems like every scene, it works a treat. The Transvestite love romance is a master stroke. Mori (Tawaki Fusamori) is great in this performance, with guys swooning all over her/him until Ace takes the plunge only to get the biggest surprise/shock of his life, despite the building being surrounded by zombies. But it’s Guitar Wolf who steals the show, cool as it gets, even in the final moments of the film, standing high rise, guitar in hand with UFOs over hear, he takes out a craft which a concealed sword from the neck of his guitar. Amazing stuff.

This film is more about Rocky Horror than George A Romero. It’s a thing of chaos and joy. Not to be missed.

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Junk (Shiryô-gari)

by on Mar.29, 2010, under Daily Review

A diamond robbery deal goes wrong when the meeting is disturbed by flesh eating zombie hordes. That’s the basic plot. There’s some crazy stuff thrown in for good measure. A scientist who’s love for his dead car crashed wife holds no bounds and when the military ask him to work on a serum to reanimate dead tissue, the reanimation of his deceased wife is his main focus.

Atsushi Muroga directs this wild film with confidence and enthusiastic with a heart, truly passionate for the genre. Homage’s to Romero, Fulci and even Stuart Gordon are evident here but there is little in the way of originality. Saying that, it’s not a bad thing and the film fly’s by at an enjoyable pace, especially in the second half where the blood really begins to flow.

Kyoko (Miwa) is the super zombie queen who is a great character and a zombie with a difference, performing all forms of jumps and fist fights with a real intelligence. The rest of the flesh shuffling fiends are all brain dead and out for a snack, as usual. Saki (Karoi Shimamura) is our main protagonist, a thief on the run, caught up in this mess, wrong place at the wrong time. Dual gun toting and up for a fight, she’s a tough character. Great scene has her pushing her hand deep into the stomach of Kyoko to retrieve detonation keys for a controlled explosive. Akira (Shu Ehara) is the real star here though. The typical fool role, Ehara dumbs it down a lttile and actually give the film some solid grounding and a bit of life. I’m not usually a fan of this type of character in this type of film, but here it works well.

So, a zombie outing, stable and solid in plot, substance and acting but nothing new here. Something else worth a mention. Was that a stolen Simonetti soundtrack in there too?

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Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

by on Mar.28, 2010, under Daily Review

This is something of an oddity really. 1973, a good few years prior to the real floodgates of Zombie films hit the screen. We’d already had Night, but this introduces something else to the genre which has later become the stable stock of this and many other sub genre horror flicks: The Teen agers. You can see tis as a grounding of many of the later great Zombie flicks, but I wonder how many have actually been influenced by this or whether it’s pure coincidence. Flesheaters, Evil Dead, even Friday 13th and the Burning and a host of other kids in the forest style films.

Bob Clark seriously got it right with this film; one of his early movies, prior to his brilliant Black Christmas and his Porky’s teen films. Why he never followed up this of BC with other genre films is a crime in itself.

The plot is as follows. A group of college kids head off for a camping weekend on a deserted island, staying in an old lodge. Their plan is to dig up an old grave and perform a black mass with the corpse, Orville (Seth Sklarey), but as the title of the film says, Children shouldn’t play with dead things and it’s not long before Orville’s dead friends are climbing out of the graves looking for revenge. Alan & Anya Ormsby and Valerie Mamches show great potential here. Great performances.

This is quite something. The acting is all very promising.  The script is perfect and works well with the cast, but Clark can really shot a film. He’s not overly adventurous but shoots pristine with well balanced scenes and nice depth of field used sparsely. This is all great, but it’s the subject and inventiveness of the plot which works so well. It’s obviously influenced by Night, but takes the basic story that step further. Of cause, the idea has now been done to death, but here it works well. What is also surprising is the effects. The actual zombies themselves are really bloody creepy and in abundance. Good makeup with a slow staggering, relentless style zombie. They surround the lodge as the kids barricade themselves in.

The highlight has to be the final ten minutes which are truly harrowing. Great shot in the final minutes resembling Nosferatu.

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Week 22

by on Mar.27, 2010, under 365 Schedule

Z week 5. Finale! Highlight will be Down to Hell, shot prior to Versus which will be scheduled for a later date. This has been a crazy month and one which has turned up some unexpected gems. Due to overwhelming success of Z month, i’ll be scheduling a sequel later on in the year, but for now, an extra two flicks to start off the new month. Rika and Competitive Swimmers.

  • Children Shouldn’t play with Dead Things
  • Junk
  • Wild Zero
  • Down To Hell
  • April Fools Day
  • Highschool Girl Rika
  • The Girls Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers
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Tombs of the Blind Dead

by on Mar.27, 2010, under Daily Review

‘Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!’ The Templar Knights didn’t; thought they could get away with slaying virgins at the altar, whipping and slicing at their flesh, before drinking up the bloody remains. The excuse for this torture was sacrifice to the devil in exchange for eternal life. The Spanish King gets wind of this and sends in his boys who massacre the lot, hanging them up on the highest of trees, with birds pecking out their eyes, an example to the citizens of Spain; don’t dabble with the devil.

That was the 13th Century. Here we are back in the 70’s. Virginia,(Maria Elena Arpon) Betty(Lone Fleming) and Roger(Cesar Burner) are holiday making. After some jealousy, Virginia strops off, spending the night in a deserted, derelict castle only to be awoken by the sounds of the dead, creeping quietly, listening to every noise and movement. Virginia screams and the knights make their move, biting and sucking at her flesh.

This is unlike any other zombie flick you are likely to watch. It’s got some amazing visual shots and is perfectly made. Amando de Osserio was a film maker which I believe has been hugely overlooked. His style stands up alongside Bava and Hitchcock, but I believe he was neglected by critics due to his films subject matter. Blind Templar Zombies doesn’t offer much in the way of credit on the critics list. But his cinematic flair and directional support to his cast, paired with his stunning artistic vision should hold this film maker up as one of the finest of his era.

There isn’t much blood and gore to Tombs of the Blind Dead, but there is a desperate feeling throughout many of the tense scenes. One such scene shows two victims cornered by the Blind Dead. The first girl scream and weeps as they approach slowly and carefully before taking long slow bites. The other girl holds her breath and stays perfectly still, as the dead hover around her, listening for a sound. Her heart beat gives her away as her chest heaves, she makes a run for it.

A truly amazing movie. Brilliantly light. A scene with the murdered Virginia returning from the dead, looking for a snack amongst a room of mannequins also offers some real candy to eye which could easily be mistaken for a Mario Bava scene.

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Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man)

by on Mar.26, 2010, under Daily Review

Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) has an unusual occupation: He works and lives in a cemetery. But this is an unusual cemetery, one where the dead return to the living after burial. With the help of his trusty companion, Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro) It’s Francesco’s job, not only to bury the deceased, but to terminate the ‘returners’. When a grieving widow (Ana Falchi) attends the grave of her darling husband, Francesco falls in love with delirious results.   

Michael Soavi, one of Italy’s finest visionary film makers, brings to the screen an adaptation of Tiziano Sclavi’s classic comic Dylan Dog and does so with zest and compassion. As expected, the film is wonderfully shot, cinematography executed with charm and a perfect eye, each scene looking beautiful. The films subject matter is one of comedy. This is controlled lightly with a blend of French sophistication and the look and feel of an Italian art house flick. Combined with some over the top gore, this results with the film being a clever concoction of genres and emotions which make up this gorgeous movie.

Influences span across the film industry. From Jean Pierre Jeunet, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Sam Raimi. Soavi has worked alongside some of the greats and it shows, especially here with this delightful film. Soavi’s previous works have always looked amazing, but with this, the influence of comedy and quirky characters is a step away from his usual arty, dream like gore films.

The script is poetic and executed at a perfect pace by Everett especially; one of his finest performances, a role which comprises of a lost and lonely lover grieving to the point of crazed gun toting manic. Hadji-Lazaro also puts in a brilliant performance as Dellamorte’s right hand man in the cemetery. A bumbling, mumbling character who blushes before puking over a young girl which he loves. Later carrying her talking head about, his new darling.

This film is unlike anything else you could have seen. Well worth a look

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Zombie Lake (Le lac des morts vivants )

by on Mar.25, 2010, under Daily Review

The last time I watched this film was back in the late 80’s. I remember it being a difficult film to watch, due to it’s slow pace, bad acting and dreadful makeup effects, but watching it today has been a revelation. How wrong could I have been back then? Or maybe my tastes have matured? Or maybe I just watch too many films that are even worse than Zombie Lake!

Jess Franco script, shot by Jean Rollin. Euro sleaze doesn’t get better than this. From the opening title sequence, we are offered an unashamed sequence of a naked sunbathing lady, deciding to take a dip in the lake, she is attacked by a slippery wet Nazi Zombie. This is the basic setting for the film premise. Naked girls, Nazi zombies and a beautiful idyllic French lake, complete with water lily. The background plot is offered through flashback. French resistance attack and murder a Nazi squadron, drowned in a watery unholy grave. Now they are back for revenge.

The film is easy to watch and enjoy once you get past the budget. There is little in the way of Zombie make up, and not too much gore, but we have a nice looking film with heart and character. Actors are dedicated to the film, although many are unskilled in the art. Rollin works well with Franco’s script which balances the massacre of naked girls with a long lost father from the lake, returning to see his daughter through zombie eyes. A camper full of chicks is one highlight, as they dive into the lake to cool off, only to be met by the marauding troop, to meet their death. It isn’t long into the film before the Nazi’s are stomping around the French village, causing bother and surprisingly finding naked women all over the place.

You can see Zombie Lake as a huge influence on Død Snø, although, no lake in that film. Another cool point to mention is the underwater scenes which are quite eerie and very well filmed. A scene later on is also truly atmospheric as the troops surround the defending villagers, the local Mayor (Howard Vernon) takes shots with a pistol at the on coming, stumbling figures. Great stuff. Creepy soundtrack too.

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