Tag Archives: zombies

Affliction Z: Patient Zero

Affliction Z: Patient Zero by L.T. Ryan
Book 1

I received a promotional e-copy of Affliction Z: Patient Zero (Post Apocalyptic Thriller) by L.T. Ryan shortly after it was released.  Frankly, it has taken a while for me to get un-busy to where I could dive in and read it.  Tonight I will be starting the last chapter and I have to say — I have been ENJOYING it!

The book begins dark, mysterious, and energetic.  About a dozen Navy SEALs parachute into Nigeria to rescue a team of Army Rangers who preceded them.  While they have their mission details, what they don’t have is intel on what exactly they’re getting into.  Shortly after they arrive they find out they’re in the middle of a zombie outbreak!

Beyond that, I will not give spoilers.

Here’s the great thing I found about L.T. Ryan’s writing…
Affliction Z: Abandoned Hope by L.T. Ryan
Book 2

Affliction Z: Patient Zero felt like reconnecting with a old friend — familiar and yet exciting discoveries from the unfamiliar interim.  I would like to say that I couldn’t put this book down, but that isn’t the case.  It has nothing to do with Ryan’s writing, it’s just that I’m a busy guy and binge-reading simply is not an option.  To me there were attributes I found similar to The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.  Chiefly, its pace presses forward and that resonates well with me — every time I picked up my e-reader this Affliction Z book would take off again!

Affliction Z: Descended In Blood by L.T. Ryan
Book 3

Elements I Particularly Enjoyed

  • The military references and other particular details seem spot on.  While reading I wondered if Ryan researched these or interviewed experts to get these right.
  • The chapters are easily read in chunks — this is good for a person who loves to read yet doesn’t have much time.
  • The situation the military guys are in is palpable!  For me it pops off the e-page.  I feel that I’m there with them in an unclear and unpredictable situation.
  • I’m always looking for something new when it comes to zombies.  Ryan presents possibilities I had never imagined for the character of the zombies — not just what their capabilities are and how the outbreak has occurred but also why.
Affliction Z: Abandoned Hope by L.T. Ryan
The color of her eyes are … uhm …. uh… green.

L.T. Ryan has quite a few books and series of books to his credit — and after the first book out of his Affliction Z series, I want more!  There are two other Affliction Z books and Ryan just released book four — titled “The Sickness of Ron Winters“.  I’d like to get my hands on Affliction Z: Abandoned Hope (2013) and Affliction Z: Descended in Blood (2014) first.

Links

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

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

Survival of the Dead (2009)

garbageSurvival of the Dead is garbage – I rate it Red Blood — and it is on my List Of Zombie Films To AVOID.

What’s worse than that is that it clearly had a chunk of money behind it — not loads, but more money than many zombie films — which in my mind was money that could have been split to make at least 2 other cleverly-made lower budget better films.

The Core Problem — No Story

My impression of Survival of the Dead is that someone — maybe their name was George — had a stack of admittedly clever zombie gags written down and sitting in a pile.  This person wanted to use these in a film, but didn’t otherwise know how to pull it off — which frankly is what they should have done and just left well enough alone.  However, they got together with their buddies — possibly there were a few beers in the room, possibly a few too many — and they had a brainstorming session that amounted to… “Okay, we’ll use the military ’cause that always flies in zombie films — oh, and to help it sell, everything Irish is popular right now, so let’s throw that in too!”  Having concocted a shoddy story-line they got their funding and started rolling.

grape smuggler
Close but … NOPE!

My guess is that’s how Survival Of The Dead got its start.  But what, no gratuitous possibly-future-famous Z-film breasts to further sell this potboiler?!?  I like bad film, but in this case I would prefer that whoever green-lighted this project read my review:  don’t waste your company’s money and don’t waste the audience’s time.

The Story — Lacking Though It May Be
Kenneth Welsh hugging some other man on the ground
Uh … this isn’t what it looks like.

Zombies have taken over the world.  A ragtag band of soldiers roams the countryside to scavenging to survive.  The unit is intrigued when they hear of a safe haven on an island off the coast of North America.  Expecting to find a paradise, they instead find the island is torn apart by a wannabe Hatfield–McCoy family feud.  One family wants to exterminate the zombies while the other thinks everyone can peacefully coexists with their undead relatives hoping for a cure to return their relatives back to their human state.

BOOM!
Who want’s a birthday candle?

This turd is directed by George A. Romero.  At least you’ll recognize Kenneth Welsh.

Links

The Vanguard (2008)

Yellow Puss

I’m not sure if this is a Z-film.  Mashing together a few online summations of this film (mostly from IMDB) consists of …

The year is 2015.  Overpopulation and famine have plunged our planet into chaos.  One desperate survivor — an enigmatic man — journeys through this apocalyptic world hunted and pursued by hordes of rage-crazed zombies.

Frankly, that sounds like a pretty cool film — not to mention that we’ve seemed to survive that 2015 issue — but my perception was …. different.

In some respects The Vanguard seems to be a psychological abstract art-house film with black comedy bits — not to mention the presence of humans who have been medicated by some controlling corporation which turns them into mindless wondering killers, which strikes me as a possible different approach to ZOMBIES.

Mind you, the zombies are on the peripheral to the story and they look like they were created using left-over make-up from either of the Evil Dead films.  And what the heck the story of the film has to do with its cool name …. I haven’t a clue!

Frankly, this looks like another DIY flick.  Looking at IMDB …. it’s written and directed by Matthew Hope it’s classified as a low budget film … it appears to have been acted using friends and volunteers, and possibly assembled on a used iMac — but this was well done.  I liked it and I’m happy having seen it only once.

The Vanguard (2008) – IMDbWikipedia, and Rotten Tomatoes

Beast Within (AKA Virus Undead) (2008)

Green Ooze – BagpiperDon’s +/- Top 10

This film should be watched at very least because it’s directed by two people with the names Wolf Wolff and Ohmuthi.

From what I can tell it’s a German Z-film made for American audiences.  It looks & feels a bit like 28 Days Later where an alternate version of the avian flu transmits a zombie virus.  Add to the mix Alfred Hitchcock‘s classic “The Birds” — and don’t forget the college slasher film element, which of course means we also see Z-film breasts — but I gotta hand it to Wolf Wolff and Ohmuthi, what is displayed isn’t gratuitous as with most Z-films.  The display of gratuitous Z-film breasts is tastefully done, but don’t watch this with your kids or your parents … or my parents.

Oh, and how about this — NO JOURNEY — even though the main charactres are at the epicenter, they feel that where they’re at is the best place to be.  Also, I gotta like the zombie cop who still eats doughnuts even though he’s undead, and I dig the recording of the grandfather’s voice that reminds me of The Evil Dead I & II.  The birds in “The Birds” were better than the digital birds appeared often enough in this film … which is saying something because I’ve never seen all of “The Birds“.

Beast Within AKA Virus Undead – IMDB and Wikipedia

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Green Ooze – BagpiperDon’s +/- Top 10

This film is fun — period.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and at the end of the film you might be encouraged to be a better person.  It’s amusing to think that this could be another occurrence that’s part of the 28 Days Later outbreak, although they say in the film that it isn’t.

If you enjoy this film, be sure to also catch Hot Fuzz (also with Nick Frost) and probably Run Fat Boy Run too — but I’d skip Big Nothing if you’ve seen Fat Boy and think that something else with Simon Pegg and David Schwimmer is guaranteed to be good.

Shaun of the Dead – IMDB

Fido (2006)

Green Ooze – BagpiperDon’s +/- Top 10

I would have enjoyed this film had I not enjoyed it simply because Billy Connolly played the leading zombie.

Oh yeah, zombies in the fifties with a cute fun story line where zombies are controlled and function as servants for humans and the main charactres have reckonings in their lives about love and happiness — good fun.

I watched it the second time with my parents — how often do I say that about these films, huh?  It might be okay for kids too with parental supervision.

Fido at IMDB and Wikipedia