Oasis Of The Zombies (1982)

A lot of lies in this poster

A lot of lies in this poster

Dear reader, my masochistic streak re: terrible movies has given you yet another review. I was under the impression that the Nazi zombie genre was fairly small, but after un-enjoying “Zombie Lake”, I discover there’s loads of the bloody things. We won’t be reviewing “Dead Snow”, because I watched it just before starting with the ISCFC and hated it, but at the urging of no-one (okay, my wife likes zombie movies and hates Nazis, so there was a little encouragement) I’ll review every Nazi zombie movie I can lay my hands on. I want no-one to have a bad entertainment decision and blame me for not writing a thousand words of nonsense about it!

 

We’ve done underwater Nazi zombies, but this is their sand-dune dwelling cousins. A pair of beautiful holiday-makers in a jeep stop to stretch their legs, and clearly our fascist undead friends are horny, as they pop up from the ground and get to eating.

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Er…hold on a minute. This sounds a bit like “Zombie Lake”, right? And by “a bit”, I mean “they’re pretty much the same movie”. Let’s do a list of ways they’re the same:

 

  • Zombie nazis
  • Roused by hot females
  • A very long flashback to WW2, where a soldier has a baby with a woman who dies in childbirth
  • At the end of the flashback, some badass Allies whup Nazi ass
  • Stupid ending where all the Nazis are wiped out, after appearing indestructible to that point
  • Involvement of Jess Franco

 

I don’t know what went on, but Franco, after quitting “Zombie Lake” due to the tiny budget, went back to work for Eurocine the next year and appears to have re-used significant portions of his own script. It’s really extremely similar, so I’m presuming there’s a good story behind it (well, better than the story they chose to put on screen). At least this one didn’t have a chuffing dead Nazi as the romantic lead!

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The reason all these people want to go into the desert is down to good old Nazi gold. It turns out that the transport we see in the flashback had $6 million worth on it, although the Allies never bothered searching the trucks or anything like that. The sole survivor of the Nazis decides after 35 years he probably ought to swing by and pick the gold up, so he goes to the sole survivor of the Allies, gets the map and then just kills him. I don’t know, if you can’t trust a fascist, who can you trust? He also seems pretty chill when the other guy tells him his soldiers might well be zombies now, expecting they’ll still listen to his orders (spoiler: they don’t).

 

I wrote in my notes “looks like two groups are converging on the gold”, but that might have been slightly fun and exciting, so it doesn’t happen. The son of the dead English soldier, who’s now a student in London, also learns about the gold and decides to round up a bunch of his student friends and go too, but they don’t arrive til the other group are pretty much slaughtered, and don’t really do much of anything themselves. There’s an idea that the zombies are protecting the gold, although who they’re doing it for is a conundrum never solved.

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There’s a couple of incidents which date this movie better than a receipt from opening night. The flashback involves the Allied soldier meeting and falling in love with a Muslim woman – there’s even a sex scene where she goes full frontal. Could you imagine the storm of abuse such an image would get in a movie today? It’s perhaps handy to remember that in the post-WW2 period, there was a lot of that Eastern eroticism sold to Western audiences, and pre-revolutionary Saudi Arabia (for example) was seen as a bit of a pleasure palace. This sort of casual indifference (to modern eyes) to Islam extends to when the son gets to Africa, and he and his friends stroll through a group of men kneeling in prayer, literally striding over them in a few instances. It’s perhaps the most shocking image of the entire thing!

 

There’s one really cool-looking zombie in this, an obvious model of a skull with half a jaw, and bits of skin hanging off. Most of the money must have gone on that, because the rest of the zombie makeup appears to be glue and a smidge of white paint, smeared all over the face – better than “Zombie Lake”, but then everything is better than “Zombie Lake”. They look pretty good, though, so I shouldn’t be too mean, even if their hair isn’t very 1940s military, more late 70s hipster. The location is interesting too – after seeing dozens of bloody jungle zombie movies, to see one set in the desert is interesting by the mere fact of its uniqueness.

 

You’ll need to really hold on to that small segment of positivity, though, as this movie is just dull. Way too much padding, way too little real incident, and there’s one line which makes me fear for the European youth of the 1980s – “let’s make Molotov cocktails, like in school”. No one element is really really awful, but it all comes together to just suck the life out of you. It’s not like there’s even much of the tricks of the exploitation director’s trade on display – no gratuitous nudity, barely any gore. There’s a moderately funny bit where, after burning all the zombie corpses, our main couple get horny and have sex very close to the piles of undead – not the moment I’d choose, but whatever. The end also has some scenes shot from above, where the sand is very clearly a few handfuls thrown on a sand-coloured blanket, indicating re-shoots (or a very lazy set designer).

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The thing is…it ought to be pretty easy to make a Nazi zombie movie. The 20th century’s greatest villains when they were alive, and now they’re dead? It should be a no-brainer. In both this and “Zombie Lake”, the uniforms the zombies were wearing was the least relevant thing about them. Why not try and make them a bit Nazi-like? Or use more of the trappings of their political creed, have them attack someone wearing a Star of David first? Anything other than this dull nothing would have been preferable.

 

Another movie which looked great on video shelves in the 1980s, but really ought to have stayed there.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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World War Z (2013)

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Despite its very ISCFC-like bad guys (hordes of the undead) you’d think this would be perfect fodder for us, but its status as an A-lister-starring, multi-million-dollar production leaves it out of our wheelhouse. But then I remember we’ve covered all sorts on here, including one TV series, so I decided to give it a go anyway.

Two of my favourite books of recent years are “World War Z” and “The Men Who Stare At Goats”. While one is fiction and one isn’t, they’re both basically unfilmable, being made up of non-narrative sections, and having no real throughline to them. Well, not one that could support a film. Hollywood decided, due to their popularity, to have a go at filming them both, and as far as “…Goats” is concerned, I think they failed. It fell between too many stools and the narrative they forced on it didn’t fit the story. “World War Z” does, at least, progress in time, but how did they do with it?

The narrative imposed on this is having a UN investigator go to the places that the book mentions, showing how the zombie outbreak has affected different countries and cultures, and trying to figure out a way to stop it. The book is interviews with survivors, which makes more sense than Pitt having to propel himself across a rapidly disintegrating world in a huge unwieldy aircraft. Because this is a big budget Hollywood film, he has a family which he had to leave behind (on an aircraft carrier), so we’ll get the occasional cut-back to them, looking worried.

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It’s a film of set pieces, really. And they’re often amazing – the initial outbreak in Philadelphia, the passenger jet and what happens in Israel are all absolutely fantastic spectacles. The unending sea of undead is very obviously CGI, but if you can squint and look past that, it’s an amazing alternate view of a large group of people.

The problem is, everything that’s not a set piece. Reading a little about the movie, it “suffered” an enormous amount of pre-release editing, last minute script changes, delays and so on, and what comes across on screen as weirdly disjointed begins to make a lot more sense. There’s no real arc to any of it – the presumed defeat of the zombies happens entirely offscreen, and the film ends minutes after Pitt figures out a way to not defeat them as such, but to level the playing field a little. His family are threatened with being moved off the safe aircraft carrier to an unsafe location on an island; but when they are moved, it’s fine and looks rather lovely when we see it, and provides no threat whatsoever (at least, no threat they show on screen).

It’s difficult to review this on its own merits because it’s taken some fantastic source material, thrown out all the interesting stuff and just turned it into a fairly standard movie. Good looking, amazingly competent Hollywood star cruises unharmed through world of CGI zombies. But I’ll try. Even as a standard movie, it has the problems listed above – disjointed, distracting CGI, the feeling that it’s ended about a third of the way through the story.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too hard on it. I wasn’t bored through the 2 hours of running time, and there’s a few great performances dotted around in there. I don’t think there was any one big decision that ruined it or anything, just a series of little compromises and poor choices that ended up with a film which looked nothing like the source book, to the point where you’re left wondering why Brad Pitt felt he needed the book’s title to sell a big-budget zombie film starring himself. If someone had stopped everything and gone “what are we doing here?” at some point, I get the feeling it could have been greatly improved, but $200 million movies have their own weird momentum, I guess.

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It both could and should have been great, but we ended up with something which I imagine pleased no-one.

Rating: thumbs down

The Zombinator (2012)

Of the caption, the only word I agree with is

Of the caption, the only word I agree with is “A”

I wish this was a real documentary, and everyone involved was really killed for real by a bunch of zombies. Or, failing that, the wrap party was blown up by people who love cinema. This is probably one of the five worst films I’ve ever reviewed for this site, and it’ll take a really really bad one to bump it down the list.

My review notes are full of questions, like “why are they doing this?” and “why did they make this film?” But it’s my job to try and formulate coherent thoughts, otherwise I could just replace this review with one long fart sound and it would be the same.

A film crew is making a documentary about a fashion blogger. If your first question is “why would anyone make a documentary about a fashion blogger?” then you’re keeping pace with me. The blogger and her friends take the crew to a patch of wasteland just outside town, and while the girls go off for a stroll, the cameraman spends a few minutes interviewing the sound guy. Why would anyone leave this clip in a film, presuming in this film’s world this footage was edited after the fact? Who knows? They then go to a party, which turns out to be a wake for a local guy who joined the army, and they carry on making the documentary at the wake. Huh?

A couple of points become immediately apparent – one is that not all of the people in this film are good at pretending they’re in a documentary; and two is that the filmmakers are bad at pretending this is a documentary too, as there’s multiple camera angles on lots of shots, and it gets way worse later. They appear to abandon the documentary concept when a band starts playing at the wake, but no – they sort of try to maintain it right to the end. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This garbage “Cloverfield” really kicks off when zombies start attacking people at the wake, and everyone loses their minds. The survivors run off to what they claim to be a school, and meet a group of people filming a ghost-hunting documentary with a couple of priests along for the ride; this group say they got permission from “the homeowner”, a weird choice of words when you’re in a school. They stay there way too long, no-one says “hold on, when did the church start believing in ghosts?” and after wandering round a few derelict rooms, they head off somewhere else and meet the Zombinator.

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He’s an army guy who fills us in on the plot, which I’m going to spoil to hell because none of you should be watching this garbage. Zombie-ism is a military-created virus which they were going to sell to the highest bidder – one of several examples of a sort of extremely naive left-wing ideology that runs through this movie (as a leftie, I found myself embarrassed for the 16-year old who apparently wrote the script). Anyway, even though he looks nothing like the Terminator at all, one of the kids makes the comparison so this film can have a better title than “Not Another Awful Fashion Blog Documentary Zombie Movie”.

There’s bad army guys in town checking on their investment, so while there’s a fairly lengthy religious scene in the middle of the movie, we see them trying to capture the Zombinator and make sure there’s no evidence of their crimes. Blah blah blah.

This film made me angry with its badness. Firstly is the pointlessness of the documentary concept, when you’re just going to abandon it ten minutes in but keep every bit of footage in the movie cheap-looking and handheld. There are times when the camera is clearly not supposed to “exist” in the world of the movie, like when it’s right next to the bad guy who has a gun, but this is mixed in with scenes where the cameraman is part of the action. A scene where someone films a guy get snuck up on and eaten, five feet away, AND DOES NOTHING makes this impossible to accept. It makes no sense whatsoever, but this pales in comparison to my chief bugbear with all found footage movies – there comes a time when continuing to film everything that goes on is severely detrimental to your health. Someone asks this in the movie, and gets the answer that they need to film this in case it’s a government conspiracy. Okay, I get that, just, but when you’ve filmed an hour of people getting eaten, do you never think “well, I’ve got enough footage now, time to put the camera down and concentrate on not dying”?

We’ve got poor acting, a plot that doesn’t stand up to the first second of scrutiny, a concept the movie itself doesn’t seem to be bothered to maintain, and a stupid non-ending. Have I covered everything? Oh, there’s the couple that breaks up, on camera, hinting at some deeper backstory, then three seconds later are fine again and in each other’s arms. There’s the way hundreds and hundreds of zombies stealth-attack people, again and again. There’s the OH MY GOD THIS IS BAD PLEASE STOP THINKING ABOUT IT

The sole interesting thing about this movie is its creation. The director, Sergio Myers, is a fairly successful reality TV producer, and shot this movie in four days while in Youngstown, Ohio to make an actual documentary, working with volunteers from the fashion website he was covering and no script (I guess that answers the question “who’d make a documentary about a fashion blogger?) I said interesting, I didn’t say worth watching, and I kind of have an inkling that there’s some stretching of the truth going on there – there’s too many locations and too many zombies for them to have managed to pull it off from a standing start in four days.

I hope Myers sticks to producing TV I have no interest in, or that he bothers to write a script for his next one. For fun, though, go read his IMDB profile, and if anyone thinks it was written by someone other than Myers, I’ve got some good real estate on the moon to sell you. What a thoroughly boring, depressing film this is.

Rating: thumbs down

Remains (2011)

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The good thing about comic-to-movie adaptations is that when the big companies have hoovered up all the main franchises (your superheroes and so on) there’s plenty of room for fans of independent comics to get their favourites on screen. Steve Niles is the creator of “Criminal Macabre”, an excellent comic, and “Thirty Days Of Night”, which was turned into a really decent film. I’ve not read this but it feels like an attempt to start a similar sort of franchise, but how well did it do?

It starts off promising, with Tom (Grant Bowler, known for “Ugly Betty” or “Defiance” depending on your tastes) sleazing his way into work as a croupier in a run down casino in Reno. I imagine the portrayal of the town as a nasty, dirty place devoted solely to taking your money is fairly accurate, but the film doesn’t spend too much time on that. It does go out of its way to make Tom an asshole though, as he bribes Tori, one of the waitresses, with cocaine in return for sex.

While they’re doing this, the TV is full of the biggest news ever – all the world is getting rid of their nuclear weapons, but there’s a problem putting them into the “Nuke Oven” and it seems most of them go off. The one nearest Reno knocks out the power, trapping Tom and Tori behind an electronic lock – and apparently turning everyone who got a blast of the radiation into a zombie (although, honestly, they sort of gloss over this bit). By the time Tom and Tori get out, all hell has broken loose and they have to survive, along with a few other stragglers.

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Another thing this movie nails is how people with no weapons and no training would cope with a sudden invasion of speedy zombies. The four survivors improvise, shoving zombies into washing machines and locking them in rooms and hitting them with whatever is at hand. This contrasts with the group of army guys who turn up later in the film, led by one of my favourite actors, Lance Reddick (“The Wire”, “Fringe”). His group seem friendly, especially his daughter, but they may well have other ideas in mind.

There are snippets of a great movie in here. The occasional touch which you can tell has had some thought put into it, the odd bit of clever dialogue, it’s like shoots of new growth breaking out from an almost dead plant. Like those shoots, though, they’re doomed because the rest of it is just not quite good enough. The characterisation is all over the place – Tom starts off as an asshole, turns into a good guy leader seemingly without notice, then flip-flops again before the end. Tori is in the spot in the film where a sympathetic character ought to be, but just isn’t; and the nastier of the two other survivors behaves like a pretty decent guy for most of his time on screen. While it may work in the comics, showing our morality as an elastic thing, in a 90 minute film it just seems like they weren’t really paying attention.

For a film which dispenses with all the typical zombie movie preamble and gets down to business, based on a comic by a great author, I was expecting to like this a lot more than I did. I just feel it’s a bit predictable, with twists and drama telegraphed. But then, considering its vintage and probable budget (it’s a TV movie for the Chiller Channel in the USA, levels below SyFy) it’s not that bad. So, provided you come to this with very very low expectations, you might have a good time, but I think probably not.

Rating: thumbs down

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane (2007)

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Directed by: Scott Thomas

Following on from Canadian Air Thriller ‘Altitude’ I’m sticking with films that take place on board a plane, whilst also returning to my favourite sub-genre in horror – The Zombie movie.

‘Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane’, the film’s bloated title, pretty much tells you what to expect; a long distance flight to Paris is carrying an assortment of characters and some top secret cargo. The co-pilot says “What are we carrying?” to which the pilot replies “I’m not sure I want to know”. Inevitably disaster ensues when the cargo breaks open and a deadly virus spreads.

The first half hour introduces us to the cast. We have tarty air hostesses aplenty, including one scream queen, a couple of bickering promiscuous and totally obnoxious twenty something couples, a fictionalized version of Tiger Woods with his nagging wife in tow, a lawyer and his dangerous client (a nod to any number of quite literally high flying 90’s action movies such as ‘Passenger 57’ and ‘Con Air’ perhaps?), a gun toting bad ass Federal Marshall who sports a fetching black beret and a few ethically unscrupulous scientists. It doesn’t take long to realize this film is ‘Snakes on a Plane’ minus the snakes.

When the plane enters storm clouds and endures a spell of turbulence the cargo begins to rattle and shake. A woman emerges from a crate, disorientated and dishevelled. The armed guard, clad in a bio-hazard suit, who has been watching over the cargo, spots the woman and shoots her. The woman has been infected with a deadly virus; she doesn’t stay dead for long, is reanimated in zombie form and violently disposes of the armed guard. Two scientists and the co-pilot go down to see what all the commotion was about. The scientists are clawed and bitten, but the co-pilot dramatically escapes from the attack. He raises the alarm, but it’s too late, the infected run riot and the passengers get chomped by blood thirsty zombies. A band of survivors battle back, and then face a race against time to regain control of the plane before a Fighter Jet takes decisive action with a heat seeking missile.

What’s good about this film is that when the infection spreads there is a wonderful sense of pandemonium. It’s quite gripping, and though there aren’t necessarily enough twists from this point onwards, there’s enough to keep you on the edge of your seat as zombies grab at passengers from holes in the floor, and through the flimsy bathroom walls. The zombies are frenzied and go for the throat; there is plenty of blood, enough to satisfy all you goremongers out there.

You pretty much have to suspend your disbelief for significant portions of the film. Our heroic survivors use pistols that fire a seemingly unlimited amount of ammunition, some of the people who get bit who don’t actually turn and the plane itself is able to take a hell of a lot of punishment. Then there’s the weak government sub-plot, which is pretty much tagged on. It seems a bit ridiculous why such precious cargo would be on a commercial flight, but hey, let’s not work our brains too hard thinking about this. It really doesn’t matter.

‘Flight of the Living Dead’ is a film which rather like the hand of a desperate zombie, frantically grabs for a cult following. I suppose what initially prevented this film from going viral is the lack of a #Sharknado Twitter boost in 2007, or even the kind of viral word of mouth hype which drove ‘Snakes on a Plane’. Having said that, it’s got a decent Rotten Tomatoes score, and plenty of people seem to like it. In my opinion this is a decent enough zombie film that nearly, almost, but not quite gets it right.

– RJW
5/10

 

 

2ND REVIEW – by marklongden

I watched this thanks to the above review, and while my co-reviewer nailed it, pretty much, I thought “well, it’s either write a review or spend an entire day working”. I quite surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it (and I was scanning the credits to make sure it wasn’t a SyFy Channel or Asylum production).

 

I presume page 1 of quite a few “scriptwriting for beginners” books talk about spending a little time setting up your characters, but so many films get it wrong, by having people behave in a weird way just to get some important information across. This film pretty much nails it – there are a good 15 characters in this, and they’re all set up quickly and efficiently and you can tell everyone apart. Apart from the Nun, but she’s just a visual joke anyway. Okay, it doesn’t always work – world famous black golfer Leopard Forests (not his actual name in the film), despite telling his wife that this holiday is all about them, has brought a golf club on board as his extra personal item for no reason whatsoever.

 

As well as being a horror film, this also works as a fantasy – a fantasy that planes are roomy and comfortable, and are staffed by impossibly attractive models. The economy class on this flight was like first class on a normal plane, and first class was like an unimaginably luxurious private jet. Although, a normal plane interior wouldn’t have been very exciting to film in, because the zombies wouldn’t have room to move. Two jokes!

 

One of the fun things about zombie films is trying to figure out who’s going to die. We weigh things up based on the morals of the characters, how attractive they are, if they mention it being their last week before retirement, and so on. This film is refreshingly difficult to do that with (although there are some obvious ones). It degenerates very quickly into chaos, with zombies coming through mirrors and up through floors, and people you were convinced would at least be around for the final fight get bitten and are done with fairly quickly. The fact it’s surprisingly bonkers is a big plus point for it, I think.

 

It’s not perfect, for certain. There’s a scene where a small group of the living are crawling along a maintenance section for what seems like ten minutes, leaving the question to be asked: “How long is this damn plane?” The women in this film are window-dressing, each and every one, and there are a few logical questions that, post 9/11, take you out of things a little. How does a commercial airline allow a group of renegade scientists to get on an international flight? How many people in fridges carrying a zombie plague are being transported every day in cargo holds? And the tension is affected by we the viewers never really having any sense of where the plane is – the pilot refuses to just put the plane down for the longest time, so I assumed they were over the Atlantic, but it turns out the plane was going from LA and had only made it as far as somewhere near Canadian airspace before turning back. Seriously, pilot, land the plane in a damn field! Zombies are killing your passengers and crew!

 

What it is, though, is a surprisingly fun film that deserved a little of the “Snakes on a Plane” buzz. The cast are solid, featuring plenty of old hands at this sort of thing. Well, that and ludicrously attractive women, but admiring the rather wonderful Kristen Kerr (right before this film, she worked on “Inland Empire”, which must have been a weird transition for her) is difficult when you realise none of the women in this film have any agency, really. Even so, one worth adding to that shelf of films to pop on if you’re feeling ill and don’t want to concentrate too hard.

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane on IMDB

My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)



Directed by: Bob Balaban

The only reason I watched ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ because I thought about doing a bit on the early work of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman, credited in this movie minus the ‘Seymour’, plays a jock stooge. He gets a handful of lines and ends up receiving a fireman’s axe through his head. There aren’t many glimpses of the greatness to come; in fact, his performance is part of a film that I would describe as a mediocre disappointment.

‘My Boyfriend’s Back’, likely named after the popular sixties song from The Angels, is not appropriately titled because technically speaking, Missy McCloud, the love interest in this movie, is not actually in a relationship with the film’s undead hero Johnny when he is alive. So really the title really makes no sense.

Knowingly bad, ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ doesn’t take itself seriously; it’s almost like one of those campy Elvira films, minus the sassy innuendos. The film’s story goes something like this – Johnny is a senior in High School, he’s been pining over Missy McCloud for twelve years and one day dreams of getting with her, his main ambition is to take her to the prom. Blocking his path is Buck, Missy’s ex-boyfriend, played by ‘Lost’ star Matthew Fox. The second obstacle comes when Johnny and his friend decide to win over Missy by setting up a situation where Johnny stops a fake robbery at the convenience store where Missy works, proving himself to be a hero, who is willing to put his life on the line for her. Unfortunately for Johnny a real criminal decides to hold up the convenience store. Johnny takes a bullet during the robbery that was intended for Missy.

Johnny dies and comes back as a zombie. In most films there’d be this whole adjustment period where Johnny takes a while to come to terms with his undead state, but nobody really bats an eyelid, and life pretty much goes back to normal for him. The only familiar zombie trope is that he is susceptible to losing body parts. There are a few funny lines around these scenes, including one from Johnny’s Mom, who says “Are you hungry? There’s a lot of food leftover from your funeral”.

The films turns into a sweetish love story, as Missy, seemingly turned on by dead men falls head over heels for Johnny. The film meanders quite a bit from here, and becomes rather boring, ending with a predictable happy ever after finale.

‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ knows it’s not the greatest movie in the world, but it is a fun little afternoon time killer that doesn’t enrage the viewer. Andrew Lowery, who plays the lead Johnny, acted in a trilogy of teen movies in the early nineties. As well as this movie he also had roles in ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and ‘School Ties’, he didn’t go on to much after that, which is a shame because he’s a charming presence. The trouble is the supporting cast are patchy, and underwritten. Buck the jock is not a constant thorn in Johnny’s side, the best friend character exists on the periphery and all the best lines come from Johnny’s unconditionally loving parents.

– RJW
4/10

My Boyfriend’s Back on IMDB

Rise of the Zombies (2011)

Trejo watches over us all

Trejo watches over us all

It appears Asylum had some sort of revelation in 2011. They didn’t really need to rip off a specific zombie film, they could just bung the word in any old film title, despite it not making a lick of sense, and enough people would buy / rent it that they would make a profit. I did a bit of research to see if there was a big film released that year that they might have piggybacked off, but it seems not – but checking out IMDB’s list of 2011 zombie films fills me with sadness. So much wasted time! Visit this link if you want to have a look yourself, and apart from “Juan Of The Dead” it’s really slim pickings. Also look for how many of those films you’ve never heard of. Who is making all of them? Let’s put a tax on zombie makeup, or something.

They also decided to load this film with what, for the Asylum, would be considered A-list stars. Oscar nominated Mariel Hemingway, Danny Trejo, French Stewart, Levar Burton, Ethan Suplee and a couple of people who’d had recurring roles on network TV, which is like the Expendables crossed with Oceans 11 for this film company. They’re getting cleverer at shooting on location as well, so they get some pretty impressive scenes in San Fransisco, clearly taken at 5 in the morning on the day of a national holiday, for instance.

This film has the range, dialogue and character activity of a below average computer game. I’m not just being facetious either, so let’s look at the evidence. It gets right into the action – zombies are attacking people from minute one of the film, and don’t really ever let up. They’re also pretty crappy, and die at the least provocation. The main cast gets split up so you get to see a variety of different locations and battles between humans and zombies. There’s plenty of weapon variety to keep you interested. Also, everyone talks like the cut-scenes from a computer game, with stilted dialogue about the most boring topics, and there’s always a final location to get to.

The one interesting thing about this film is the speed it kills off its main cast. People you’d have expected to still be alive and kicking at the end get themselves blown up and eaten and eaten and eaten…for people who have survived at least the first bit of a zombie rising, they’re really bad at checking to see if there’s any zombies about. They’ve made a base at Alcatraz, and seem to be settled there, but for some reason zombies finally figure out they can just swim across, and suddenly one day they get swarmed by hundreds of aquatic undead. This, of course, makes no sense.

Asylum appear to have learned some lessons from criticism of their previous films, but that new knowledge has kicked some old stuff out of their brains. They’ve got a cast who can act, sort of, and the pace of the film is white-hot (especially compared to something like my previous review, “Transmorphers”). Sadly, this still doesn’t result in a decent movie. The zombies just keep on coming, and no matter how many they kill there’s still a load more. This renders all the battles sort of pointless, really. They are unafraid to kill off cast members, which is a good thing, but the way they do this is indiscriminate, so two of the storylines you might reasonably have expected to be central to the film’s ending are just wiped out a little over an hour in, rendering all the time spent with them absolutely worthless.

The rest of the film is sadly not much better. It feels like the middle section of a longer film – there’s no real beginning and there’s certainly no end, so whether they ran out of money, time or were hoping to do a sequel that never materialised, I don’t know. The zombies both shamble and run, and can climb up the side of bridges, so that’s all over the place too…

"Ethan, why did I agree to be in this terrible movie?"

“Ethan, why did I agree to be in this terrible movie?”

Two enthusiastic thumbs down for me for “Rise of the Zombies”. But before I go – why is it called what it’s called? The zombies have very definitely risen long before the movie starts, and in fact appear to have taken over the earth. Are they rising to even greater heights? AH SCREW THIS MOVIE ASYLUM YOU SUCK. Sorry, lost control for a second. This film is purely designed to show people fighting zombies in a bunch of different locations, and any incidentals like plot and characterisation are left to sneak in where they can.

Rise of the Zombies on IMDB

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Detention of the Dead (2012)

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I should have known. It’s got a wacky title and every bit of it screams “cheap garbage”, but the evening was progressing and it was either this or a couple of episodes of some TV show, then bed. I chose wrong.

I really don’t need to supply much plot, as the title tells you just about everything you need to know. A bunch of people in their mid to late 20s who are supposed to be in high school get caught up in the middle of a zombie epidemic…and that’s about it. It’s desperate to be like the Breakfast Club, or even that episode of Dawson’s Creek that parodied the Breakfast Club, so when they get to the library, where most of the film is set, a tedious sense of inevitability sets in.

Still, the epidemic starts quickly. By the 20 minute mark, it’s already at the stage where must low-budget zombie films take an hour to get, and for that it deserves thanks. Also, the actors they hired are mostly sort-of alright, with a prize going to Alexa Nikolas as goth Willow. There’s also the guy who was the secretly gay bully from “Glee” in there too, so it’s not as cheap as it could have been.

If you’ve seen any zombie film, chances are you’ll have seen every major beat of this one. They fight off zombies. Some of them are scary, some of them are comical. They improvise weapons. They hole up and have serious conversations. And so on. But what I wanted to talk about was the sexual politics of this film. I would bet a substantial amount that this film was written by a former high school nerd who’s never really shaken off the feeling of inadequacy that the bullying and lack of dates left him with. The star of the film is Eddie, the nerd of the crew. He’s not particularly good looking or confident, and doesn’t seem to have much going for him…but not only does he win over the head cheerleader while her boyfriend is still alive, kicking and trying to save everyone’s asses, but he also has the cute goth Willow lusting after him.

This I could just about tolerate. But it’s when Willow has to talk him into going on a date with her and he rejects her for the cheerleader not once but twice, then at the end goes “maybe Willow would be best” and she’s absolutely fine with that, that alarm bells started going off, loud. What self-respecting woman would behave like that? That Alexa Nikolas is beautiful and a cut above the rest of the cast, even saving the day at one point, just adds insult to injury. Am I just too old to appreciate this sort of film now? Or is it in fact appallingly misogynist? No, it’s definitely a terrible representation of women. If Eddie had behaved in any sort of way to get two women to go crazy for him, I’d have given him a little leeway, but this is just too much.

This was terrible. Thumbs up for starting quickly, thumbs down for pretty much everything else. From the lazy references to much better films to the way women will throw themselves at you if you’re white and alive (the Asian kid who survives almost to the end, and seems like an okay guy, gets no interest from the ladies), it’s a rotten waste of time. Avoid. Go see a film where women are more than just blank slates who want to have sex with you.

Here's some of the people to blame for this

Here’s some of the people to blame for this

Detention of the Dead on IMDB
Buy Detention Of The Dead [DVD]