Category Archives: Movie

Movie reviews, suggested movies for musicians to view, etc

Dead Before Dawn (2012)

Dead Before Dawn (2012)A CURSE IS UNLEASHED in Dead Before Dawn!

A group of college friends — some of whom play football and wear cheer leader outfits for a high school, because that isn’t confusing — accidentally break an evil urn in an occult gift shop.  As the dust settles they inadvertently create a horrible curseis there any other kind —  UPON THEMSELVES!

SPHS
SPHS — yeah… usually HS means High School — so how are they college students?!?  Is it possible that these “college” students attend St. Paul’s High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba?

As a result of the malediction, everyone they make eye contact with will kill themselves and then become “Zemons” — a combination of Zombie Demons — and the high school college kids only have 24 hours to reverse the curse!  With the fate of the entire world resting on their shoulders, our heroes race through the night armed with a slew of homemade weapons, avoiding eye contact and hickeys, and filling their shopping list of items needed to reverse their curse.  Will they be able to reverse the curse and save the day, or will all of humanity be Dead Before Dawn?

spawn from Hell seeks loving gentleman
This gave me flashbacks of some of my ex-girfriends … oh yeah, good times.

Dead Before Dawn is not a serious zombie film.

If you come away from DBD thinking, “You know, as serious films of the zombie genre go … that sucked!”  I read reviews that essentially said this, and those people MISSED THE POINT.

Spoof – A humorous imitation of something, typically a film or a particular genre of film, in which its characteristic features are exaggerated for comic effect.

Dead Before Dawn is similar to Z Nation — they’re intentionally trying to be goofy and make fun of comedy zombie films (see “parody“).  For me this was an unexpected film and looked like what films of this sort should be — fun to make.  It made me feel like I was watching Fido for the first time again.

free candy
Emmett Lathrop “Doc” Brown, Ph.D. – a student of all sciences and the inventor of the first time machine built out of a DeLorean
Christopher Lloyd
If you don’t recognize this guy it’s Christopher Lloyd playing a high school senior in 1958

Give this blood-soaked adventure horrorcomedy a watch — it’s an unexpected fun zombie-demon flick from Canada, great for a laid-back kick-back chuckle with friends.

Written by Tim Doiron and directed by April Mullen, it stars a bunch of folks I’m not familiar with and presume are Canadian along with Christopher Lloyd — who I will always think of as Emmett “Doc” Brown.  88 minutes long, this is the first ever live-action, 100% Canadian feature film to be shot in Stereoscopic 3-D.  Filmed in 20 days in and around the Niagara Falls region of Canada in 2011, it features occasional adult humor and it achieves being a fun film without revealing adult body parts frequently found in zombie films.

I rate Dead Before Dawn — drum roll pleaseGreen Ooze!  Maybe moderately green, but definitely green — good job Canucks!

LINKS

| Official websiteFacebookIMDBWikipediaRotten Tomatoes | St. Paul’s High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba | time machine | DeLorean | Back to the Future trilogy | Zombie comedy films |

Juan of the Dead (2011)

Juan of the Dead, Juan de los MuertosJuan Of The Dead (AKA Juan de los Muertos) is fun Spanish-Cuban zombie comedy.  If you’re like me, you just gotta appreciate a Z-film that shows its first zombie kill in under three minutes into the story development. Oh yes, it may be a new record!

Without any explanation zombies appear in Cuba and start eating people.  Middle-aged slacker Jaun, along with his fellow small-time crooks and deadbeats, take to the streets of Havana to face an army of the undead.  Emergency news reports are broadcast amid the chaos…  The surge of living-dead have been identified as ‘dissidents’ revolting against the Cuban government.  The regime accuses the USA for the attack.  Everything is under control even when nothing is being done.  Seeing opportunity, Jaun gathers and trains his friends to be zombie killers and starts a business called “Juan Of The Dead — We’ll kill your loved ones”.

For those familiar with the Cuban regime and its people, the movie is a hard critic to both — which is why it was never released in Cuba and apparently was only shown on-screen at film festivals.  Juan Of The Dead attempts to mock every cinematic clichés (daughter hating father, friend about to die, farewell , even Matrix-style fights).  The nuances of Cuban humor can get lost-in-translation to non-Spanish speakers — for example — in one of the most celebrated jokes, Juan is asked to kill a cow but he refuses because it is too dangerous; In Cuba killing a cow is worse crime than killing people.

Zombie film fans will will be pleasantly surprised with this film especially with seeing fun nods to Shaun Of The Dead.  There was one thing I saw in particular that I have seen in another zombie film*.  The film is in Spanish and subtitled — sorry, no over-dubs.  This film is Not Rated, and aside from the zombie gore and violence there is some nudity (including z-film boobs) and adult humor/topics.  Oh — and how do I rate Juan Of The Dead ? … Light Green to full Green.
(*Select this line to read the spoiler –> Underwater zombies walking on the ocean floor that seem to be able to swim up if it means getting a bite … though that bite could come from a shark!  Oh yeah, this was also done in Pirates Of The Caribbean<– all the way to here)

Juan of the Dead – IMDbWikipedia, and Rotten Tomatoes

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries (2011)

World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011
Remember how the cover for the first film has NOTHING to do with the film? Well, consistency is supposed to be good…

Have you ever had the experience where someone you know excitedly says “Hey, ya gotta see this film!“?  Then once you watch it you’re left thinking “What the heck was that about?”, or worse “There is something SERIOUSLY WRONG with my friend!”  Welcome to to World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2.

Immediately you can tell that this project has a higher budget and is visually more satisfying than the 2006 predecessor.  Then you get into the story and you start to see the problems…

The first thing you notice — as with the original film — is that the DVD cover is once again horribly misleading.  The cover art looks better than the film, and it represents something other than the content of the film.

Field full of zombies
I’m warning you — act like threatening zombies or we’ll shoot you!!!

The zombies feel very non-threatening — even less than in the original film.  The make-up is insufficient, the scares nearly non-existent, and the zombies are often so stiff they would be played better by untrained department store mannequins.  Add to that, when it comes to shooting the zombies I get the impression that the British film makers don’t have a clue as to what firearms sound like anymore (especially in the scene pictured).  The firearm sound effects left me non-pulsed — perhaps they were just the on-location recording of the blanks the actors were firing.

The biggest downfall of the movie…

World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011
Yep, they should have stuck with this poster as the DVD cover

… aside from the emaciated plot and the you-are-there hand-held cinematography — are some of the specific content choices that film makers Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates included.  Various gangs of survivors prove to be even more vile than the zombies.  This is well summed up in a review by FlickeringMyth.com when they wrote…

“There are a couple of, frankly, unneeded rape scenes (one on a female zombie) that just felt like Bartlett and Gates wanted to do some kind of rape revenge film, but gave up and worked zombies into it”.

Frankly it left this bagpiper & humble amateur zombie-film reviewer astounded.  I cannot recall feeling this disturbed by any zombie film I have previously seen.  This content included a challenged young man bullied into delivering a beating upon one of the primary male characters, and then pushed into committing a graphic rape/murder on one of the female primaries.  I have to wonder where the writer and his co-director think that this was appropriate, or fit within the film!  I also have to wonder about the actors (or even the crew) assuming they saw the script before they agreed to do the film — why would they participate in bringing this film to fruition?

Is there any redemption for this film?

World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011, gas mask
Me around people who smoke

There are elements to this film that really work — the albeit over-used zombie-trope military element, the military and civilian survivors trying to escape from England, and the guys who ambiguously appear wearing protective suits and gas masks.  However it seems as though Bartlett and Gates thought that their ideas were so great — so sound — that they didn’t think to check their script or finished film with a third party.  And if they did, they didn’t listen to them say “There’s some good stuff here, but over all THIS IS A BAD IDEA.”  Or maybe they just half-assed it and figured this would fill a feature.  In the end, it is as The Daily Mail described the film, it’s an “88 minute waste of electricity.”, and I rate it Red Blood.

Seriously, I’m starting to think I ought to make a list titled “Zombie Films To Avoid Watching“.  Do you think I would have this one on it?  YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!

A List Of Words Irrelevant To This Zombie Film
World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011
At least you see one of these folks in the film — but destroyed city, a massive horde of zombies? Nope nope-nope!
  • Smash hit
  • Phenomenon

Links

pew pew pew
pew pew pew!

The Zombie Diaries (2006)

You NEVER see this guy in the film, which is too bad because the cover looks like it should actually be a pretty cool film.

WOW, where to start?  How about my rating for the 2006 film “Zombie Diaries” … Frankly, I’ve flip-flopped.  Originally I gave it a yellow puss — very pale yellow puss.  When I started watching the 2011 sequel I dropped it to a red blood.  And then I saw more of the sequel and boosted the original flick back to yellow.  Yep, that’s right, the first film is better than the second in this humble bagpiper’s opinion!

The back of the DVD case cites The Dark Side (whatever that is) as having said that this is “The best zombie film ever.”*  If that’s the case, I’m giving up on zombie films.  Fortunately, the are patently wrong in this regard.
(*I tried to find the specific article on their site without luck… did they change their mind, delete their review, and disassociate themselves with this film entirely?)

THE GOOD NEWS

This film could serve as insights to people’s different experiences before Jim wakes up in 28 Days Later — although this isn’t possible according to Wikipedia since “The second chapter, “The Scavengers”, takes place one month later.“, and the third chapter presumably takes place later still.

THE BAD NEWS
The truth is in a real zombie situation, you and your friends are going to only be as awesome as these folks …

Imagine if you will Blair Witch Project (otherwise known as the worst bad film ever) but with the actual presence of a horror threat — in this case smatterings of amateur-actor zombies.  Instead of a couple of Blair Witch guys screaming at nothing and pissing themselves like millennials, you get the audiobook version of World War Z giving insights to various people and their experiences as things fell apart due to the outbreak or mass presence of zombies.  All of this is done in a you-are-there found-footage hand-held-documentary filming format … which I often find annoying because the filming is overly jerky and the audio is incredibly noisy with hyper yelling. In this case this looks like a an amateur film with decent execution

HEY YOU GGUUUUYYYYYYYSSSSS!!!

The film doesn’t begin to get interesting until 14 minutes in.  It possibly starts to interconnect around 37 minutes.  Perhaps one of the best things about it is that it gets an interesting look around 39 minutes when the visual switches to night vision.

Otherwise, what do you have in this film?  Bickering Brits, who, if not for zombies taking over the world, would be complaining about Americans and claiming that they’re SO much better and nothing like us …. except for the bickering, complaining, and conceitedness, all-in-all failing to acknowledge that everywhere you go people are just people.  Yep, everyone sucks just as much as everyone else everywhere else, including English people and even Canadians …  but especially people in France.  In truth, between the rigors of long term survival along with death and fighting off zombies, the stress level in such a situation would be pretty high so bickering seems realistic.  The other thing that’s bogus — and common in movies — is that the characters are complaining about not having enough guns in a country where guns are highly restricted, and yet they’re instantly pretty damn good shots for people who are unaccustomed to firearms.

THE YOU-ARE-THERE PROBLEM
When you see zombies this badass, you’re dealing with a home-spun Z-film production

One of the things I keep thinking over and over which applies to this film and any you-are-there hand-held film — and I’m sure I’m not the first to ask this — why would anyone film all of this stuff?!? Everyone one of these types of films need to justify this, few if any of them do. Similarly, particularly a story that takes place a number of months, a year, more than one year, whatever — why are these folks bothering to still record, especially when they must be running out of film or disc storage space, how are they continuing to power their devices, eventually why would they bother? While the hand-held you-are-there style film making has a certain feel and effect, to a degree it is also cheaper to make, which may also be a motivator behind writing/creating a story in this fashion. Mostly, I just don’t think it works all that well or at least to say as often as these films come out.

Hopefully the 2011 sequel — World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries — is better.  But then you got to wonder about a crummy film that gets the juice behind it to make a sequel … Did other audience members think it was good enough to support a second film?  Are the film makers deluded or trying to fix their errors from the first film?  Did I leave the stove on?  Is the redhead at work flirting with me or does she flirt with everyone?  Instead of using gel I wonder if I could use wood glue in my hair and then only have to style it once a week?

A List Of Words Not To Believe Relative To This Film
  • Best
  • Powerhouse

Night of the Comet (1984)

Night of the Comet (1984) DVD cover
If you can’t tell already that this is an incredible movie…

Raise your hand if you are personally familiar with how much the first half of the 1980s sucked.  If you’re not raising your hand, watch this film.  Oh, and by the way, I rated Night of the Comet as Yellow Puss.

Robert Beltran as a cowboy
Robert Beltran — YEEE-HAWW!!!

I’m not sure if this film was supposed to be a serious Z-horror flick in its day or if the producers were taking a bit of a jab at the period — commercial music, warmed-over 1970s fashion, big bad hair, excess consumerism and narcissism, and … like … valley girls!  Still, ya gotta love the superficial cult-film line of “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis!” and seeing Robert Beltran cut his teeth before he was the respectable Chakotay on Star Trek’s Voyager.

Street party aftermath
Okay, who’s gonna clean up this mess?!?

A comet from deep space passes through Earth’s atmosphere while everyone — not just Eddie Murphy — wanted Michael Jackson’s red leather jacket.  Bright red dust from the comet pollutes the atmosphere, vaporizing people who were directly exposed while turning those with little exposure into cognizant talking mutants (er, I mean, zombies), and probably inspiring the survivors to start neon fashion that came soon after.

Refreshingly…

"Daddy would have gotten us Uzis." ~ Samantha Belmont
“Daddy would have gotten us Uzis.” ~ Samantha Belmont

… Night of the Comet is devoid of nudity &/or depicting sex.  In place of that the under-age sister-character is viewed twice in undergarments, which when you think about it feels pervy.  Still, the romantic relationship in Hard Rock Zombies is WAY more disturbing.

Officer Friendly gives you a hug
This doesn’t actually make me feel better about cops in dark places

This  Z-film falls under the it’s-so-bad-it’s-good classification, and I suspect could be great if it got the Dawn Of The Dead remake treatment, but in present form doesn’t particularly hold my attention. While watching this flick I tend to wonder “If this was shot in LA, how did the production get empty streets?  And if most of the population died instantly due to a passing destructive comet, it sure was nice of everyone to park their cars first … except for that one jerk with the Mercedes.  Maybe this didn’t take place in LA but in Canada where everyone parks their cars before a comet causes an apocalypse.”

So there you go — Night of the Comet — put that in your coffee and drink it!

Night of the Comet LINKS

Dawn of the Dead (1978 and 2004)

Dawn of the Dead 1978Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Red Blood

…AND…

Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Green Ooze

I own both of these films.  In my opinion the 1978 Dawn of the Dead hurts — it’s poorly made, the make-up looks like garbage, and if the zombie extras were volunteers I would say that they were over-paid.  In fairness, this is typical of 1970s zombie films — there weren’t all that $upported.

Dawn of the Dead 2004

By contrast, I thought the remake Dawn of the Dead was a considerably better film, but after seeing the extras I think that some of the reenacted lines and details that were cut from the original film would have made the remake better.  If you’re watching the 2004 version on DVD, be sure to see the extras about the guy who owns the gun store — oh, and don’t skip the credits at the end of the film.

The premise of both of these films …

At the Dawn of the Dead people wake up and the zombie apocalypse has started.  Some people do the journey thing and take shelter in a mall that was closed when the everything started breaking down.  On one hand they have everything they need in the mall and everything they didn’t have before, they have things pretty easy … on the other hand, their feeling of security proves to be an illusion when people — living or dead — start to find their shelter.

LINKS

Nightmare Alley (2010)

AVOID THIS GARBAGEDon’t bother with Nightmare Alley.  My impression of this “film” is that some people in the same apartment complex got together and made this film — shooting it, acting it, writing it, producing it — everything.  There are some zombie cowboys in the first vignette, but the whole thing is maybe at best only worth lining the bottom of a trash can.  Nightmare Alley (2010)

BagpiperDon’s Zombie Movie Rating — Red Blood

 

Nightmare Alley (2010) – IMDb …. this film is so bad I couldn’t find it on Rotten Tomatoes …. not to be confused with the 1947 film with the same title by Tyrone Power.

Nightmare Alley is so bad it made my …

Zombie Films To Avoid List

Raiders of the Damned (2007)

Raiders of the Damned (2007)As soon as I started watching Raiders of the Damned I noted a newly-learned familiar stink.  YEP … this film gets rated Red Blood.

This should be an ideal film for me — containing both zombies and Sci-Fi — but this is made by a garbage movie company called The Asylum, which LARGELY JUST RIPS OFF OTHER FILMS.

Garbage, Garbage, Garbage…

The zombie costumes & weapons are laughable, and their make-up is just plain bad.  The lacking story line is only outdone by the dribbling charactre development — and posturing of hokey military badassedness.  The description sounds like it should have something, but it just isn’t there.

Raiders of the Damned (2007)

When all is said and done, this film too will make no careers of its unknown actors who either can’t act or lack worthy direction, nor will this film win an Oscar … hell, it might be so bad it wouldn’t even win acknowledgement from The Razzies.

Even when it’s bad Z/B-film, for the sake of these reviews & my project I tend to finish a flick even if I am not directly watching it, but I shut this one off 20 minutes in — the people who want to see something that will make SyFy Channel films look good can have the additional 67 minutes.

LINKS

Raiders of the Damned (2007) – IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes

Return in Red (2007)

Return in Red (2007)From the start Return in Red is clearly a B-film Z-film taking place in somewhere rural-America.  While the graphic quality looks B and the actors seem like unknowns, it also seems that everyone knows what they’re doing.  It’s as though you’re watching a reality period piece from the late-1980s, but shot with the same technology of the time … maybe early 90s.

Deep Thoughts…

Why isn’t there anything decent to eat in my kitchen? … Oh yeah, because I need to go to the grocery store.  My point is there are impressive aspects to this film, but it didn’t adequately hold my attention.  I rate it Yellow Puss.

creepy neighbor's house
This is THE ONLY picture from the film I found online … yeah, that’s how popular this flick is.
LINKS

 

Return of the Living Dead III, The (1993)

The Return of the Living Dead III (1993)The Return of the Living Dead III was neither a terrible or great Zombie movie, so I rate it Yellow Puss.  But first, what happened…

A teen uses an Army chemical to revive his dead girlfriend after a motorcycle accident.

Watch out -- GIRL GERMS!

Okay, it was a little more complex than that.  Government scientists are trying to use the 2-4-5 Trioxin substance from previous films to re-animate the dead for military use.  Curt, the teenage son of the program director, comes to learn of the process.  Later he and his girlfriend, Julie, get into an accident while riding his motorcycle — during which she dies.  Grief-stricken, Curt uses some Trioxin to bring Julie back to life.  He then helps Julie deal with her new existence as military agents and local gang members try to track them down — and Julie becomes … Hungry for BRAINS.

Trust us, we’re from the government.

Oh My Ghod - TIME TO FREAK OUT!ROTLD3 bears little resemblance to its predecessors — both good and bad.  It drops the comedy in the previous films, replacing it with horror, science fiction, and romance. The Trioxin substance is carried over, but with different effects than in the previous films.  These zombies infect their victims by biting them whereas in the previous films only exposure to Trioxin (as a gas or in exposed water) could turn a corpse into a zombie.

skinny ass zombie

Remember at the beginning of this post where I wrote that I viewed this as neither a terrible or great Zombie movie?  It was campy, it was made for around $2M and flopped at the US box office making only $54,207, and much of the delivery could have been better timed.

To its credit however…. the film offered a few a few new things to me from zombie films.

If you have read my other posts you know that I generally dislike when Z-films make cognizant zombies.  In ROTLD III the film presents a reasonable way that a zombie could have though, could have awareness, and could speak.

yum yum yumOne of the main characters — Julie, played by Mindy Clarke or better known as Melinda Clarke — becomes the zombie, and the story follows her experience.  Instead of an anonymous mass of zombies being a looming threatening presence that occasionally comes around to move the story along, this zombie is always present and is not exactly the ‘evil’ in the mix of the story. There are other zombie films I am aware of that follow a main-character zombie, however I have not yet seen one of these.

Piercings are pretty, right?the next fadThe zombie is female and remains (well, more or less) attractive.  She has awareness of her past and present emotions, and that she has started having problems with sensing any sensation when she touches something.  In her confusion she begins to modify her body with first small and then large piercings (which was all the rage yet around that time) which ultimately she can use as weapons.

hubba-hubba
Yes, Ms. Nandi!

Also if you have read my other posts you know that I make commentary on gratuitous displays of women’s’ breasts.  Let’s be clear on something here …. it’s not that I mind or dislike women’s breasts — being a heterosexual male, I prefer them.  Gratuitous display of women’s breasts are common in zombie films BECAUSE IT TENDS TO HELP SELL TICKETS in a genre that is often low-budget and not as attractive to ticket-buying audience members.  Seeing a lot of these films, I’ve seen a lot of these breasts, and it just gets old — okay?!?  That said….

And this ... this is my BOOM STICK!
Ms. Nandi says DON’T MESS WITH MS. NANDI OR HER PEOPLE!!!

In ROTLD III you see Julie/Melinda Clarke’s 24 year-old human and zombie breasts.  Rare, if ever, have I seen female zombie breasts.  As zombies go, they weren’t disgusting.  As humans go …. uh, yeah, better still.  (And if you REALLY need to see Julie/Melinda Clarke’s zombie breasts, FINE, here ya go … ya wanker.)

Now that that’s over with…

I think she's dead
She played a dead chick in Firefly “Heart Of Gold” too

Now, you might be asking yourself “Who is Melinda Clarke?” and/or “Why is BagpiperDon drawing so much attention to this chick?!?”  The answer to that is simple — she may be the only person from this film who made it ANYWHERE in the TV/film industry.  Quite frankly, I didn’t recognize her in this ROTLD3.  I know her from a number of things — I’ve seen her, recognized her, but I’ve never known who she is.  I know Melinda Clarke from the 2002/03 Firefly TV series as Nandi “Heart of Gold”. I’ve seen her as Lady Heather in CSI.  Any time I’ve seen her she’s played stable-footed woman who is a palpable presence.

Links

The Return of the Living Dead III (1993) – IMDbWikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes, and Zombie.Wikia.com