Monday, February 27, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Title: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Cast: Nicholas Cage, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Christopher Lambert, Ciaran Hinds


There are movies out there that you don’t watch for their depth, or their themes, but for their fun factor. These are movies where I don’t expect any break through anything, in fact, what I expect from films such as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is fun, pure and simple and on that department I think this sequel to Ghost Rider (2007) delivered in spades. Just don’t bother watching it in 3-D because it was non existent. This is one of those movies that was converted to 3-D after the fact, and most of the time that doesn’t work out right, but the movie itself? Not a bad time at the movies. It’s not Shakespeare, but then again, it was never trying to be. In fact, it’s quite obvious that the films team of directors Neveldine/Taylor, the directors behind the highly energetic Crank (2006) and Crank: High Voltage (2009), were damn certain of the kind of cheese ball b-movie that they were making, so they just ran with it. The result was a step up from the first film, which was a disaster in the first place.

To me Mark Steve Johnson’s Ghost Rider (2007) was a crap fest of gargantuan proportions. It had a scene or two in there that were worth watching, but the film as a whole just didn’t work for me. Fast forward five years and now Marvel has decided to make this sequel in an effort to erase the previous film from people’s minds. The problem is that this isn’t going to happen because this sequel still stars Nicholas Cage, and that alone will remind people of the first film. But whatever, the important thing to remember is that this is a whole new creative team handling the character and that alone should insure us something different. As a result, this film does have more of an edge to it simply because it’s the Crank guys behind it.

Unfortunately, even though we have a new duo of directors behind it, the films script is incredibly redundant; you’ve seen this same plot unfold a billion times before which is really the films major fault. The plot is weak; it brings nothing new to the table in terms of story. Actually, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has the same exact plot from Drive Angry (2011) which Nicholas Cage himself starred in a mere year ago. I mean, come one, how many times have we seen a movie that is about a child who is prophesized to be the antichrist? Way too many times that’s how many! Truth is that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is in the same exact category as Drive Angry. This sequel is a silly fun time, an unapologetic b-movie. It’s not half as bad as DriveAngry, a film I loved to hate. To me, Drive Angry was a train wreck, but it was a fun one to watch. Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance isn’t as bad as Drive Angry was, but it’s definitely in the same freaking ball park. Bottom line is that with films that use repetitive story lines, the rule of thumb is: it’s not what you say, but how you say it. And I loved the style and energy that the duo of directors infused this new film with.

After all, Neveldine and Taylor are known for their hyperkinetic action films; and this is where Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance got things right in my book. The action sequences where awesome, there’s some great photography on this one as well. I saw this little video clip that showed how Neveldine and Taylor shot some of these scenes and you can tell these guys where really gung ho about getting the most energetic shots, the most original angles…I mean, these guys shot parts of this film on skateboards and in line skates! They even shot scenes while hanging from a helicopter! So I applaud these guys for making films with so much passion and energy, it translates well into their films; you feel the camera so close to the action, you feel the action in your face.

The Ghost Rider himself looks awesome; this is the best the character has looked to date. He looks slightly more satanic, more evil. The Rider’s burning skull makes his leather jacket sizzle and pop as it blazes on; the skull looks black, he simply looks kick ass…which kind of clashes with the way Cage plays him when he isn’t the rider. Cage portrays old flame head with his trademark goofiness and on this film he went over board with it; Cage’s trademark looniness is in full throttle on this one. This I really enjoyed. I don’t know about you guys, but I like it when Cage goes on one of those crazy rampages of fury. On this film Johnny Blaze is drunk and high during most of the film, a trademark of Neveldine and Taylors films; their characters are always abusing drugs and booze. In some scenes Johnny Blaze acts  as if he’s coked up out of his mind or something! There’s this one hilarious scene where Cage is trying to hold his transformation into the Ghost Rider…funny stuff! I’m actually glad they decided to go with this sense of humor; it fits well with the whole b-movie side of things. It’s like the filmmakers know nobody is taking this film too seriously, so they just decided to have some fun with it; which they did, I mean, we get to see Ghost Rider pissing fire!

The film does manage to squeeze in an original idea or two in there. For example, I loved how they played around with the idea that whatever vehicle the Ghost Rider rides turns fiery and demonic. It’s not just his bike this time around; the Rider rides a couple of different vehicles, this offers us the most original visuals in the film. I had tons of fun with this one even though I found the story to be so lazy, I mean, come one, really another crazy satanic cult that wants to sacrifice a child to Satan? Come on, we’ve seen that way too many times. But I was having fun with everything else in the film, Ghost Rider looks awesome, Cage was funny and crazy (the way I like him!) and the action from Neveldine and Taylor rocked; so what we got here ladies and gentlemen is a fun time at the movies. Nothing ground breaking, but nothing boring either. At the very least it’s worth a watch.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5   

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chillerama (2011)

Title: Chillerama (2011)

Directors: Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, Adam Green, Tim Sullivan

Cast: Ray Wise, Eric Roberts, Joel David Moore, Lin Shaye, Kane Hudder, Ron Jeremy, Tim Sullivan


Chillerama is a big ‘fuck you’ to Hollywood. Its four directors saying okay Hollywood, you won’t give us the time of day, then we make our own damn movie, our own damn way! And so these four guys got together and made Chillerama, which is one of the craziest movie anthologies I’ve ever seen, mind you, this does not mean its a good movie, in fact, its the furthest thing from it. But I'm guessing that this is exactly what the directors where aiming for. The film is made up of four stories all glued together by the love of going to your local drive-in, tuning in your radio, snuggling next to your date (while trying to achieve first base) eating some pop-corn and  watching some low brow entertainment. Yes sir, watching a movie in a drive-in cinema is an experience all on its own; too bad they’re going the way of the dinosaur which in part is what Chillerama is all about.

The first segment in Chillerama is called ‘Wadzilla’ and without a doubt, it is the craziest thing you are ever going to see in a while. The insane promise tells the story of Miles Munson, a dude with a very low sperm count; actually he only has one sperm! But low and behold, his doctor gives him an experimental pill that is supposed to strengthen the one sperm he does have. Problem is that this new medicine makes his sperm grow so much that it eventually ends up turning into a huge city destroying monster! The thing about ‘Wadzilla’ is that it’s the best segment of the film, and they open with it. Usually as a rule of thumb anthology films will leave the best story for last, but not on Chillerama’s case, they blew their load so to speak very early on. Chillerama suffered from premature ejaculation! Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself with that one! Too easy. So anyhows, ‘Wadzilla’ was directed by Adam Rifkin who by the way also plays the main character in the film.

Rifkin is the filmmaker behind Detroit Rock City (1999) a.k.a. the second KISS movie, a.k.a. the good KISS movie, in other words, it’s not KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978). Detroit Rock City is a film I find myself revisiting on a regular basis; it has some truly funny moments and lines; one of my favorite being when the kids put some mushrooms on a priests pizza and the priest ends up high as a kite saying things like “Santa, Satan, same letters…same guy!” Rifkin also directed a film called The Dark Backward (1991) which stars Judd Nelson and Bill Paxton; and same as Chillerama, The Dark Backward is as insane as movies get. It’s the story of a stand up comedian (Judd Nelson) whose career suddenly takes off when he grows a third arm on his back! And that aint the half of it!  ‘Wadzilla’ is a pretty funny short film as well, I wasn’t expecting it to go so over the top with its ideas and I wasn’t expecting to be laughing out loud for most of its running time either. The mood for this short is extremely tongue in cheek, it is filled with inside jokes galore and out of all the shorts in Chillerama this is the one with the most cameos. Eric Roberts and Robert Wise are here and they seem to be having a blast through the whole thing. My favorite was Wise who plays his role with tongue firmly placed in cheek. ‘Wadzilla’ was definitely the most amusing of the shorts, it reminded me of films like The Blob (1988). Some of the shots they used when the monster shows up were so reminiscent of monster films from the 80’s. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that the Chiodo Bros., the guys responsible for Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) where the ones responsible for the special effects in ‘Wadzilla’. The resulting effects look purposely cheap, yet entertaining to look at, perfect for a b-movie of this nature.

‘I Was a Teenage Werebear’ is to me the weakest of the stories, its practically unwatchable in my book. It tells the tale of a young man who is going through an evolutionary period in his life. He is going from straight to gay. He suddenly finds himself looking away from his girlfriend and checking out dudes. This confusion is “tearing him apart”. Things get even more complicated when a group of werebears bite him on the ass (literally!) and transform him into one of them. The whole thing serves as an allegory about being true to yourself and showing the world who you really are, instead of keeping it 'in the closet' so to speak. I had a couple of problems with this one. Number one, the werebear make up sucked, I mean, they could have done way better then just painting the actors faces. The make up effects work felt extremely lazy. That could probably have something to do with the low budget nature of this film, but damn, all other films looked better than this one, so I chalk it up to laziness. Second problem I had was that this was trying to be a musical ala Grease (1978) or Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). The big musical number at the end of the film includes special dance moves and everything, not unlike ‘The Time Warp’ from Rocky Horror; unfortunately the song sucks and so does the dance. The actors can’t even sing, which is really the worst thing that can happen in a musical. And I really mean it, these guys cant sing for shit, and to top things off, the songs are really bad! The film even throws a couple of nudges to The Lost Boys (1987) and everything, but ultimately, ‘I was a Teenage Werebear’ is the weak link of the group. This is actually a surprise since it comes from Tim Sullivan, a veteran producer/director/actor.

Hitler experiments with the re-animation of dead tissue in 'The Diary of Anne Frankenstein'

‘The Diary of Anne Frankenstein’ was directed by Adam Green the director behind the Hatchet films and many others. This is actually the most restrained of all the shorts, yet this doesn’t mean that the segment isn’t without its insanity. According to the film, Anne Frank’s family is actually the Frankenstein family. They simply shortened their name to hide their link to Dr. Frankenstein, the famous scientist who used to experiment with the dead. The family kept the book where he wrote all his secrets on how he managed to bring the dead back to life! And Hitler wants to the book to create his own Frankenstein’s monster! The whole segment is in black and white and is actually quite funny. Joel David Moore does a pretty decent job as Adolf Hitler. He actually pulls a Chaplin on us and makes gibberish sound like German. It was fun to hear which words he could squeeze in there to make things funny. Kane Hodder plays ‘the monster’, which by the way is made up of dead Jewish people. As a result ‘the monster’ (hilariously named ‘Meshugannah’) has a long Jewish beard and sideburn curls. It is never easy doing a comedy about the holocaust, filmmakers usually shy away from attempting to make comedy out of such a horrible moment in history, yet in my opinion, Green achieves it. He makes Hitler look like an ass, and that’s always fun in my book.

‘The Diary of Anne Frankenstein’ is quickly followed by a short, short film; something called ‘Deathification’, it will test the limits of your good taste, the less said about it the better. Finally we get 'Zom-B-Movie' which is the wrap around story of the film, the one that ties all the stories together. This one was directed by Joe Lynch, the guy who made Wrong Turn 2 (2007) and is currently putting the finishing touches on a film called Knights of Badassdom (2012). On ‘Zom-B-Movie’ we basically meet the owner of the drive-in and all his patrons, the people who actually go to the drive-in to see the movies that he plays for them. A slimy (apparently toxic) substance makes its way to the pop corn sold at the drive-in and this in turn makes everyone at the drive-in turn into flesh eating zombies. I liked the look of the zombies on this one: these bastards glow in the dark! This was a pretty cool and energetic segment of the film, which gets pretty graphic and gory. This segment squeezes so many references to other films it’s not even funny! Chillerama was all sorts of fun, essentially these four directors wanted to make a movie that offended as many people as possible in the most gruesome and graphic kind of ways. They applied themselves to Gene Simmons rule for success: offend as many people as possible and success will follow. This movie isn’t for everyone though. I mean, practically every segment (save one) includes masturbation in it, genitalia gets ripped to shreds in more than one segment as well…and well all sorts of bodily fluids get thrown on screen. This movie is for those brave souls who just don’t give a crap about being ‘politically correct’, it’s a film for those people who know how to loosen up, not take themselves too seriously and enjoy a good raunchy time. Just remember, the film isnt Shakespeare and you should be fine! I mean, where else are you going to see a giant sperm screwing the statue of liberty? Nowhere else but on Chillerama that’s where!

Rating: 2 out of 5   

Glow in the dark zombies: neat-o!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I, Madman (1989)

Title: I, Madman (1989)

Director: Tibor Takacs

Cast: Jenny Wright


Some directors make only one good film in their life and then they never repeat that success again, these are the ‘one hit wonders’ of the world of cinema. Was this the case with Tibor Takacs; the director behind the beloved 80’s supernatural horror film The Gate (1986)? Was The Gate Takacs one hit wonder? If you know the rules of a one hit wonder, then you know that bands that hit it big with one song always have one more follow up ‘hit’ before they disappear. For example, The Blood Hound Gang had a huge hit with their song “The Bad Touch”. They had the whole world singing about “nothing but mammals” but after that huge hit, they hit one more song called “The Inevitable Return of the Great White Dope” and then they quickly disappeared from the charts. They might still play around, and put out new albums, but they have never reached the level of success they reached with that one huge hit.  I guess I, Madman was Tibor Takacs one other ‘hit’ before disappearing into mediocrity. I say that because I, Madman was actually watchable and enjoyable piece of 1980’s horror. It isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a well made little b-movie, meant to be enjoyed with the lights of your living room turned off, during a stormy night.

I, Madman tells the story of a young book store clerk named Virginia who loves to curl up in her living room couch during dark stormy nights to read horror novels. Her favorite author is a guy by the name of Malcom Brand. The titles of his books? ‘Much of Madness, More of Sin’ and ‘I, Madman’, which by the way was the last book he ever wrote. Supposedly he wrote it while in an insane asylum! But Virginia doesn’t mind, she is enthralled by these trashy, pulpy novels and the grizzly situations she finds in them. Problems start when she starts seeing characters from ‘I, Madman’ in her everyday life. These characters seem to be coming alive and crossing into the real world. It isn’t long before Virginia starts seeing the titular ‘Madman’ following her around, trying to kill her. Are characters truly coming out of the book as Virginia suspects?

I, Madman made me think of a film called Jake Speed (1986). Don’t know how many of you have seen Jake Speed (a rare little flick I watched as a kid) but it’s a cheap Indiana Jones rip-off whose basic premise is that this character from these cheap paper back novels called ‘Jake Speed’ actually exists in the real world. In the film, Jake Speed and his partner, aid a woman in finding her kidnapped sister. The idea of the film being that this supposedly fictional character isn’t as fictional as we’ve been lead to believe. I, Madman is the Jake Speed of the horror world. It’s the kind of film that will have you on a loop guessing if the Madman is real or not. The other film it reminded me of was The Never Ending Story (1984), which also has this idea of having characters crossing from the fictional world into the real one and vice versa, which is a great concept. What I liked about I, Madman is that it applied this idea within a horror film.

Tibor Takacs was purposely going for a dark sort of ‘film-noir’ type of feel for this film, which of course goes perfectly with the trashy pulp fiction novels that the main character enjoys reading. The whole film takes place mostly during the night, within the bowels of a dark lonely looking city. And what would a film noir be without a cop/detective to try and figure out the crimes? In I, Madman Virginias boyfriend is a cop who is investigating the grizzly crimes that keep popping up in the city. Are the crimes connected to his girlfriend? Or is her mind playing tricks on her? This film reminded me a lot of some of   Mario Bava’s films, which is I am sure, what Takacs was going for. The vivid colors, the beautiful girl with bright red lipstick, the killer who is hidden in shadows…in many ways I, Madman is a homage to Mario Bava’s, Blood and Black Lace (1964), which was one of the very first slashers ever. The way that Takacs plays with the blues and reds and with the shadows is what leads me to believe that he was paying homage to Bava. So yeah, I, Madman is one of those slashers that’s heavy on the atmosphere and style.

The killer has a memorable look to him; again, he looks like something that might have jumped right out of Blood and Black Lace or Baron Blood (1972), a hideous looking being who hides his façade beneath hats and scarf’s. This mad doctor was Takac’s attempt at creating a horror icon similar to Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees,  but as we can see, that attempt didn’t go very well for I, Madman never went past the first film. Still, the killer has an interesting look going for it. The villain has some similarities with Phantom of the Opera, for he is a poetic/romantic soul, trying to find love at the hands of a beautiful actress, even though he himself is hideously deformed. This is a tragic character we’re talking about here. The object of the villains affections is played by actress Jenny Wright whom some of you might remember as the blond vampire chick named ‘Mae’ from Near Dark (1987). On this one she plays her character equal times sexy, and equal times vulnerable.   

Tibor Takac's fondness for stop motion animation shows up once again in I, Madman (1989)

The film does have a lot of cheesy sounding dialog, and some of the effects come of as low grade. For example, when we see one of the stories that Virginia is reading, we see this stop motion animation creature that looks completely unrealistic, but in my opinion it went great with the films b-movie feel. Speaking of b-movies, I, Madman is a unapologetic b-movie and it knows it. If you don’t like b-movies, don’t venture into this one because this one is purposely pulpy. Takac’s has had a fondness for b-movies from the very beginning of his career all the way to his current slate of films. Sadly, Tibor Takac’s career went downhill after this film. In my opinion he hasn’t made anything of note since The Gate and I, Madman. The guy has kept afloat directing crappy tv movies like Mansquito (2005), Mega Snake (2007) and Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep (2006) amongst others low budget features that in my humble opinion are films a director will only make to pay the bills. He is currently working on something called Spiders 3-D which is apparently slated to premiere theatrically, but who knows how that will go; at least Takacs gave us I, Madman and The Gate, two cheesy and enjoyable 80’s horror flicks, and hey, that’s worth something.  

Rating: 3 out of 5    

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Last Circus (2010)

Title: Balada Triste de Trompeta (The Last Circus) (2010)

Director: Alex de la Iglesia

Cast: Carlos Areces, Antonio de la Torre, Carolina Bang


I always look forward to an Alex de la Iglesia film because they always have this kind of acid-like comedy to them. Ever seen Perdita Durango (1997)? It’s an insane drug infused trip, reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994). I think this type of black comedy, where characters are ultra hateful and everything that can go wrong does go wrong; where things go as bat shit insane as they can possibly go is a signature of Alex de la Iglesia as a director. It could also have something to do with films being a more liberal form of expression in European countries (read: they don’t have a ratings system!)  as opposed to American films which can sometimes come off as muted or sensored in some ways. Films from Spain, Mexico, France all have a whole other level of crudeness that is absent from American cinema. Which is exactly the reason why an Alex de la Iglesia film will feel like pouring a bucket of ice cold water down your spine; these films are uncensored, unfiltered raw emotions. Whatever it is, it’s what I love about Alex de la Iglesia films. Characters use a lot of foul language, they hate, they love and the kill all with mind numbing intensity. Essentially, characters in an Alex de la Iglesia movie always have a heightened sense of emotions!

The Last Circus tells the story of a boy named Javier whose father is a clown. Their job is to entertain the masses as the war rages on outside the circus walls. But when his father is taken prisoner by a war hungry politician, he asks Javier to avenge his death, to become a sad clown for the sad times they are living in. Javier takes his advice, and so we fast forward in time many years later and meet Javier, now a full grown adult, looking for a job in a circus. The owner of the circus asks him “why do you want to become a clown? No one becomes a clown just for the hell of it”. The owner of the circus explains to him that if he hadn’t become a clown, he’d be a serial killer, and Javier says “me too”. That’s the kind of dry humor I’m talking about! So anyhows, Javier gets his job as a clown and everything is going fine and dandy until he falls in love with Natalia, a gorgeous bombshell of a trapeze artist, who also happens to be the circus owner’s girlfriend! Can Javier take the pressures of being in a love triangle?

‘Frenetic’ is the right kind of word to describe an Alex de la Iglesia film; his films never stop running from one crazy situation to the next.  In The Last Circus we meet a love crazy clown who will do anything to defend Natalia from her abusive boyfriend, a violent, sadistic, vicious circus owner who ironically enough plays the ‘Silly Clown’ in the circus. The love triangle leads to bloody violence, revenge and tragedy. It reminded me in more ways then one of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s SantaSangre (1989), a film which Alex de la Iglesia is obviously paying homage to. We have the same type of dynamic about a man falling in love with a circus performer who is already romantically involved with the owner of the circus, we have a scene in which all the characters from the circus walk around town sad and depressed because one of them is badly hurt, same as the funeral procession for the dead elephant in Santa Sangre; and same as in Santa Sangre, things get bloody as hell. It could be argued that there is a bit of Fellini in this movie, but I don’t want to be one of those reviewers that says that every film with a circus in it is ‘Felliniesque’.

When Alex de la Iglesia set out to make The Last Circus, he says that what he wanted to do was a movie with a clown turned psycho killer. He mentions that the image that brought this film to life was that of a gun totting clown, going around town shooting his machine guns, this of course ended up being the most iconic image from the film. Javier going around town guns a blazin’ reminded me of the character called ‘D-Fence’ (played by Michael Douglas) in Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down (1993), a character that is also used to criticize society and it’s evils. Clowns are already kind of scary; but just imagine one whose face is horribly scarred and imagine said clown walking around shooting machine guns! What makes things even more interesting in this film is that we have two clowns fighting against each other. On the one hand we have Sergio, the owner of the circus who is the ‘Silly Clown’ always doing his best to make kids laugh, while on the other we get Javier who is the tragic ‘Sad Clown’, the butt of the jokes; who will Natalia choose of the two?

Many comment on this films political themes, and it’s true, they are there. But in all honesty, to me the politics served as a backdrop to what is really a tragic love story about two men in love with the same woman. It explores the animosity that this kind of situation can bring up between two men. When a woman has to choose between two men, will she choose the macho type? Or will she choose the quintessential nice and sensitive type? Will she choose the buff looking dude, or the fat guy? Will she care about superficiality, or will she love the man she chooses for who he is? In The Last Circus Sergio represents the macho type. He talks loud, enjoys intimidating people and loves to hit Natalia, who apparently has grown to accept Sergio’s violent ways. When Natalia meets Javier, she is suddenly confronted with a man who treats her kindly and isn’t afraid to stand up to Sergio and his intimidating ways. She of course finds this tenderness attractive. So Natalia, confused doesn’t know which guy she wants to choose. In the end, will anybody be happy?

The films title ‘Balada Triste de Trompeta’ comes from a song of the same name; its literal translation is ‘Sad Trumpet Ballad’. The song is performed by a famous Spanish singer called ‘Raphael’, and I should know, my mom is a huge fan of this legendary Spanish singer, quite possibly his biggest fan ever? ‘Balada Triste de Trompeta’ is one of his most popular songs and it’s about someone sadly remembering a lost love, with his heart broken into pieces by the rupture. He is so sad that he sees himself as a sad clown, crying as he sings. In the song, his cries are mixed with the sad sound of a trumpet, this is a hauntingly sad song and one that matches perfectly with the main character in The Last Circus, a love sick man, driven mad by his impossible love. Raphael was not only a singer, but also an actor. He was so popular during his peak in the 60’s and 70’s that he starred in a couple of movies centered around him, a la Elvis Presley and his movies. In one of these films Rapahel actually dresses up as a clown and sings ‘Balada Triste de Trompeta’ and Alex de la Iglesia effectively uses these scenes in the film in one pivotal scene. I mention this because I’m sure this will be lost amongst most American viewers who probably wont have any idea of who Raphael is.

There is a lack of sympathetic characters on this film; damn near everyone is kind of despicable. The protagonist, Javier isn’t likable at all; he is a murderer, driven mad by love. Sergio is a clown that can make kids laugh one second and blow somebody’s brains out the next, no problem. Natalia is the girl who can’t apparently stand up for herself and in her confusion makes two men go at each others throats for her. But I am of the opinion that every single movie does not have to be about shinny happy people. There’s space for dark, black humor as the one depicted in The Last Circus. This is an angry film, with lot of ugliness to it. Characters are angry at the world and the way their lives have turned out.  But like some of the best directors, The Last Circus finds beauty in ugliness, art in pain…and speaking of beauty, Carolina Bang is such gorgeous beauty! To close up this review I’ll say that The Last Circus even has some gothic elements to it. The film ends with a fight on top of a giant cross, reminiscent of those old Frankenstein movies that end on a giant windmill; two monsters fighting for the love of their beauty. Actually this is a film that has more than a little bit of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in it, after all this is a film about two misunderstood monster who are simply looking for love; in all the wrong ways. The Last Circus is violent, gory, and even poetic at times; a stylish piece of Spanish cinema not to be missed by lovers of style and black humor.

Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chronicle (2012)

Title: Chronicle (2012)

Director: Josh Trank

Cast: DaneDehaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan  


Chronicle is one of the best telekinesis movie I have seen to date and trust me; I have seen a lot of them! Okay, maybe it aint better then David Cronenberg's Scanners (1981), but it definitely ranks way up there in my list of best telekinesis movies ever. If you want to know a bit more about films dealing with telekinesis, check out this article I wrote a while back called ‘A Mind is A Powerful Thing to Waste (Telekinesis Movies)’ where I list a bunch of telekinesis movies, amongst them the great Japanese animation classic Akira (1988). But seriously, they should’ve just called Chronicle Akira (1988)! Chronicle has so many similarities with Akira that I honestly felt like I was watching an Americanized version of it. True, Chronicle borrows quite a lot from Akira, but it does it so well and with such pizzazz that I’m not complaining. In fact, Chronicle gave me hope for the kind of things we might be seeing in the proposed  Akira film, which has been in development hell for quite some time. Directors for the proposed film adaptation of Akira have come and gone, writers have changed, actors have been attached and detached, but the film  never seems to actually take off. Last time I checked, it was Jaume Collet Serra, the director behind Orphan (2009) and House of Wax (2005). This is all understandable, after all, Akira is an epic and complex tale requiring a skilled filmmaker to do it, this film shouldn’t be handed to just anyone.

Chronicle plays like a simpler version of Akira, it takes place in our time, without the post-apocalyptic background, the political turmoil or the motorcycle gangs.. Story focuses on three teenagers who stumble upon an alien rock that suddenly gives them telekinetic powers. One day they are normal teenagers, the other they can move cars with the power of their minds. At first it’s all pranks, fun and games but things turn ugly when one of the three suddenly decides to use his powers to get back at anybody who ever messed with him. Suddenly, the worm has turned and there is going to be hell to pay! 

So yeah, first off this is a “found footage film” which means we see the film through the footage that somebody shot with a hand held camera. I recently reviewed Apollo 18 (2012); a found footage film about a lunar mission gone horribly wrong and in that review I talked a bit about how much I enjoy a well made found footage film. To me they bring me that much more closer to the action, they feel that much more in your face. Not to mention that when done right, realism levels can sky rocket, which is what happened with Chronicle, a film in which some situations and events are way more intense simply because of the documentary style. It also plays around with camera angles. Instead of always having the shaky cam jumping about, at some points the camera hovers around the characters because they make the camera float with the power of their minds, which I thought was a pretty nifty idea. It also gives viewers a breather from the “shaky cam” which  some viewers can get exhausted with.  

Some don’t seem to like this kind of film, or have grown tired of them (there’s so many of them  out there) but I say we better get used to them because this is simply another way to tell stories, another style and apparently it’s here to stay. One reason why found footage films are proliferating so much is because they are cheaper to make and at times like these, when the economy has affected even Hollywood, well, even Hollywood is cutting back in expenses. These films are usually shot on digital, with new actors that don’t cost producers a lot of money. A well made found footage film can cost anywhere from 11,000 dollars like Paranormal Activity (2007) to 5 million dollars like Apollo 18 (2012). Either way, these are cheaper films, certainly less then your regular Hollywood film. This is the reason why found footage films have proliferated so much these days. But anyways, I don’t really care why they are making them so much, I enjoy the “in your face” aspect of these films a whole lot. They got a bit more adrenaline infused into them. 

Thematically, the film plays with exactly the same themes that Akira addresses, mainly, the abuse of power. Once we have incredible amounts of power (as do the kids in this movie) should we succumb to abusing it? Should we allow ourselves to be corrupted by it? Or should we learn to harness it? Spiderman said that with great power comes great responsibility, which is true, but what happens when you give all that power to a nerd that was always picked on before? To a boy who suffers from physical abuse from his drunken father?  Will this new found power fuel his desires for revenge? This is to me where the film was most similar to Akira, because on Akira we have the same exact situation, Tetsuo is a young kid who gets picked on all the time, so when he gets his powers all he wants is to seek out the respect he was due. Other similarities involve the main character running around in hospital robes destroying everything in his path with his new found telekinetic powers; the visual alone should be enough to spark any anime fans memory. If you ask me, the director of this film, 26 year old Josh Trank should be given the chance to direct the Akira film! But alas, apparently he’s already been offered the opportunity to direct the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot for Marvel. Lucky dude! He’s already moving on up! And Chronicle was his first film! He’s got the makings of a promising director; I’m looking forward to whatever he’s making next.

What Chronicle does right is that it truly exploits the telekinesis angle to full extent. It really plays with the ideas of moving things with the power of your mind. While some films only do it in a half assed way, like for example PUSH (2009), which to me was a horrible film, Chronicle takes it all the way! It gets epic in scale and goes further than I expected it to go with its ideas. While watching it I felt like when I watched Superman II (1981) for the first time. When I first saw Superman II as a kid, that epic battle between Superman, Zod and his cronies was the epitome of ‘epicness’ for me. It was the ultimate superhero battle. Keep in mind this was way before the onslaught of superhero movies we have today, this was during the 80’s when superhero movies were rare. Watching Zod and Supes playing catch with buses and hurling billboards at each other was the ultimate rush for me! Watching Chronicle reminded me of that kind of feeling you get when you watch an epic battle between two ultra powerful beings wrecking the city, done absolutely right. The effects were quite good on this one!   

Another positive aspect of the film is that it takes its time in developing its characters. Before things get blown out of proportion, we slowly get to know these three fellows and how they come upon such fantastical powers. We get to see how they first learn to deal with their new found powers and how they learn to master them, to control them. Basically for a wile the film turns into an origin story; that first film you watch where they lay down all the rules of the game and show us how everything started. But after that introductory phase, the movie picks up and never let’s down, in fact, it gets completely out of control and jumps straight into “freaking awesome” territory. Highly recommend it! The last half of the movie is well worth the price of admission. It was a fast paced jolt of excitement, looking forward to seeing what Josh Trank will be directing next!

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Memorable Moments In Zombie Zinema Part II

So I promised you guys more Memorable Moments In Zombie Zinema and here they are! I hope you guys enjoyed both of these articles! And if you like the first and enjoy this second one, then head on over here and read Memorable Moments in Zombie Zinema Part III! There are so many memorable zombie moments, I'll probably keep writing these articles for a while. So enjoy the ones I’ve posted! They were hand picked for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!


Title: Zombieland (2009)

Zynopsis: Talahasee and Columbus are two strangers who meet in this post-apocalyptic wasteland America. Columbus has a survival system, a couple of rules he lives by that have allowed him to survive the ongoing zombie threat. Talahasee is a loner who cares about no one but himself, but he is a tough as nails hombre who wont think about it twice if he should ever have the need for knocking a zombies head off with a bat! On their travels they come upon a pair of girls who have a plan to lock themselves up inside of an amusement park, will their plan work?   

Comments: Zombieland was an entertaining zombie flick with some nifty ideas, but above all lots of style. The opening sequence which opens up with the zombie apocalypse in full force and in slow motion, is nothing short of amazing and a memorable zombie moment on it’s own. True-blue zombie fans were jizzing in their pants during this opening sequences, I know I did! But of course, what we all wanted to see were zombies in an amusement park, and that you get. Theres many gags and pranks that take full advantage of the “zombies in an amusement park” premise, this was a highly enjoyable sequence as well. A sequel is currently in the works supposedly for a 2013 release, I hope it eventually gets made because Zombieland was a fun ride that I wouldn’t mind getting in line to experience again.    

Quote: “You see? You just can’t trust anyone! The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me”


Title: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Zynopsis: Shaun works selling electrical doo-dads in some convenience store, his life is going nowhere. His roommate and best bud has his priorities straight: smoking weed and playing Playstation all day. Shaun’s life is so redundant, that he doesn’t even notice when zombies begin to take over his town! To him everyone’s a zombie! It’s during this zombie apocalypse that Shaun and Co. learn to take the reins of their life and become heroes. 

Comments: Shaun of the Dead is one of the finest zombie comedies out there, it’s funny, it’s got it’s social commentary and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost proved to be a successful comedic duo; a duo that’s gone on to make a string of successful films together. There are a lot of memorable moments on this one, like the scene where Shaun and Ed kill zombies by hurling old LP’s at them, or the scene where Shaun and Ed take pictures with a zombie, but my favorite was the one where they walk amongst zombies pretending to be zombies themselves. I found it amusing because I always though I’d do the same thing if I was ever in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. 

Quote: “Who died and made you fucking king of the zombies?”


Title: Dead Alive (1992)

Zynopsis: Lionel’s mother is bitten by a Samarian Rat Monkey while visiting the zoo. Problem is that the Rat Monkey’s bite turns anyone into a zombie, so, slowly but surely Lionel’s ‘mum’ begins to become one of the undead! She’s not alive…but she’s not dead either! Unfortunately for Lionel, his undead mom is the one responsible for spreading the zombie infection around, until pretty soon the whole house is filled with zombies! How will Lionel keep this situation under control?  

Comments: It’s interesting to see a directors first films, especially those that started from scratch like Peter Jackson who started his career with such low budget films as Bad Taste (1987) and Meet the Feebles (1989), Dead Alive was part of his first batch of films that had incredible amounts of originality and creativity, these early films showed promise that’s for sure! Dead Alive showed everyone how crazy and over the top Jackson could go with his imagination; this is one crazy zombie movie! It really gets totally nuts! The film is literally overloaded with memorable zombie moments! A priest that kicks ass for the lord! A zombie nun and a zombie priest procreate a zombie baby! I mean, the list goes on and on…if you haven’t experienced it yet, get ready for one of the goriest, goofiest, slimiest zombie films you’ll ever seen in your life. 

Quote: “Your mother ate my dog!”

Memorable Zombie Moment: FIRST ZOMBIES ON FILM 

Title: White Zombie (1932)

Zynopsis: Monsieur Beaumont is a rich land owner, he has a plantation in the island of Haiti. When Beaumont meets Madeline and Neil -a couple of young kids soon to be married- he invites them over to the plantation, offering it as an ideal place for their wedding. Truth is Monsieur Beaumont has fallen rampantly in love with Madelline, and he wants her for himself! His plan? To ask Mr. Legendre (a local voodoo specialist) to perform a ritual that will allow Beaumont to control Madelines every move. Essentially, he turns her into a zombie! Will Neil ever get to rescue his fiancé from the clutches of death?

Comments: Is there a zombie film made before White Zombie? That’s the big question. I have done my research, and many agree that this in fact is the first zombie flick ever made. Some say the first zombie was ‘the somnambulist’ seen in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), but I don’t think that character was a zombie in the true sense of the word. It is never said that Caligari’s somnambulist was dead or undead for that matter. So to me, White Zombie was the first zombie film and it’s a really good one. Some films from the past tend to come off as goofy or funny when compared to today’s horror films (Universal’s Dracula for example) but White Zombie remains extremely watchable after all these years. It’s still an effectively spooky, eerie and atmospheric film. The kind of zombies we see on White Zombie are the kind that were enslaved and used to work the sugar mills. Before Romero’s Night of the Living Dead came along, zombies didn’t eat flesh! There was a time when zombies were only depicted as slave workers being controlled by voodoo, an allegory for the mindless working class. The same kind of zombies can be found in films like I Walked With A Zombie (1943) and Plague of the Zombies (1966). 

Quote: “They are not men Madame! They are dead bodies!”


Title: Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)

Zynopsis: A group of friends have to go to an old abandoned monastery to rescue their friend, who has gone missing. Problem is the monastery is inhabited by a group of evil knights who worshipped the devil and drank the blood of innocents so they could live forever! Will the group manage to rescue their friend and escape the clutches of the blind dead?

Comments: So first off, the idea that these are BLIND zombies is what really makes this one original. You see, these knights where so evil that when they were discovered sacrificing people and drinking their blood they were crucified and left out for the crows to eat their eyes out! They still live forever as zombies, but they are also blind! Interesting thing is that even though they are blind, they are still pretty dangerous! The most memorable sequence in the film for me is the one where the zombies find their next victim by listening to the frenetic panicked beats of her heart! 


Title: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Zynopsis: Suddenly and without any apparent explanation, the dead are coming out of their graves and attacking the living, eating their flesh. A group of people lock themselves up in a farmhouse, but after doing so don’t know what else to do. Should they lock themselves up in the basement? Should they board the house and hold the fort? Should they make a run for it somewhere?

Comments: Initially, Romero had envisioned the film to be about aliens, which is why there’s talks about a satellite returning from Venus, but as time went by the project morphed into what it is today, the first film about zombie fleash eaters. One of the many working titles was ‘Night of the Flesh Eaters’, you see, when the time came to conceptualize this film, the filmmakers tried to think of the worst thing that the zombies could do, and low and behold, flesh eating popped into their heads. And ever since Night of the Living Dead, zombies are all about eating flesh, which is why this film is so influential. That classic scene where we see zombies walking about in the darkness eating arms and legs is extremely effective! The opening scenes in that eerie cemetery, with the zombie trying to break Barbara’s car window as she tries to turn it on, exhilarating. The scene with the little girl zombie, wow, still a shocker! This is without a doubt one of the most important zombie films ever made, even after all these years, the film retains that chill, that horror, yes my friends, Night of the Living Dead is a film that has aged extremely well, its horror is timeless.  

Quote: “They’re coming to get you Barbara! ”


Title: Shock Waves (1977)

Zynopsis: A group of vacationers find themselves stranded in an island when they crash upon a boat that passes them by. The island is apparently empty and deserted…or is it? It isn’t long before an army of undead Nazi zombies starts emerging from the ocean! Will the group of vacationers survive?

Comments: So basically, even though this movie is extremely slow at times I find myself enjoying it immensely, why you may ask?? Well, I love the images, the Nazi zombies emerging from the ocean look awesome. The nazi zombies themselves? Simple, yet effective! This film owes a lot to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead since it is basically about a group of people who debate between locking themselves up in a room or making a run for it in the zombie infested island. What makes the film different is the island setting and the Nazi zombie element which is always a nifty idea, I mean; it’s my opinion that Nazi zombies have not been exploited in a good way in Hollywood yet. I’m still waiting for a filmmaker to make the best Nazi Zombie movie ever? Shockwaves is the best so far, Dead Snow the other heavy contender, but a truly great Hollywood Nazi Zombie Film hasn’t been made yet. 


Title: Land of the Dead (2005)

Zynopsis: Zombies have completely taken over the world and only a couple of human colonies exist. A group of humans attempts to make it to Canada, where supposedly a human colony exist, and the zombie threat is minimal. Their plan is to steal a war tank called ‘Dead Reckoning’ (the films original title by the way) for their journey. Is this paradise real? Will the group of humans make it past the hoards of zombies?

Comments: Romero has always been the trend setter when it comes to zombie films. He made zombies flesh eaters; he made the first “smart” zombie. With Day of the Dead (1985) Romero introduced us to ‘Bub the Zombie’ the first zombie to listen to a walkman, enjoy classical music, clean his teeth with a toothbrush and hold a gun up to his oppressors! With Land of the Dead (2005) what Romero did was he made the zombies the good guys. The villains of the piece are again, same as most of Romero’s zombie films, the greedy, selfish humans who just cant seem to get along. What is new about Land of the Dead is that Romero introduced us to the zombie known as “Big Daddy” a revolutionary leader. That’s right Big Daddy is leading the zombie revolution! He teaches other zombies to pick up weapons and go up against the greedy humans! 

Quote: “Zombies…they freak me out man!”


Title: Cemetary Man (1994)

Zynopsis: Francesco Dellamorte is a caretaker at the local cemetery, he buries the dead and kills the undead! To Francesco, killing zombies is as natural as breathing. But he wants out, he is tired of the same o same o life he’s been living, he wants to see the world, to fall in love, to live his life. Will Gnagi and Francesco ever find a better world? 

Comments: What I enjoy most about this movie is that it’s a little bit artsier than your regular zombie film. It is deeper, more poetic, which is of course something really strange in a zombie film; most of them only concern themselves with action and gore. Cemetery Man even has some romance in it! This film is not meant to be taken literally, it’s has many symbolisms and allegories, and it plays with a lot of themes, again something you wouldn’t expect from a zombie film. But don’t worry, what this film does well is that it never forgets that it’s a zombie film! One of the main characters falls in love with a dead girls zombie head! This film comes to us from Italian Horror directi Michele Soavi, the director responsible for Stage Fright (1987) and The Church (1989) two Italian Horror films I enjoy very much, but Cemetery Man is his masterpiece as far as I’m concerned. 

Quote: “Hell, at a certain point in life, you realize you know more dead people than living”


Title: City of the Living Dead (a.k.a. The Gates of Hell) (1980)

Zynopsis: A priest commits suicide and this somehow triggers one of the seven gates of hell to blast open! Now the dead are coming out of their graves and attacking the living and if a reporter and a psychic don’t slam the doors of hell shut again, the dead will rise all over the world and take over the planet! Will they make it in time to shut the gates of hell and save the world?

Comments: So yeah, this is a zombie movie Fulci style which of course means at times you’ll be completely lost and confused as to what exactly is going on in the screen. But that’s how the Fulci school of filmmakin g goes: shoot the film, forget explanations, let the audience sort it out in their own way. For example, it is never really explained why zombies in this film seem to teleport from place to place. One moment the zombie is steps away from you,  then suddenly ZAP! It disappears! And seconds later ZAP! It re-appears! Closer to you this time! Are these zombie ghosts? Why do they teleport? Who knows! It’s Fulci, get on for the ride and enjoy! This movie is crazy gory! Fulci really went crazy with the gore on this one. Just ask yourself one question before seeing this one: are you ready to see a girl puke out her innards for minutes on end? If your answer is yes, then by all means indulge in this great zombie film. One of  Fulci’s best, right behind The Beyond which is my personal favorite Fulci flick.  

Quote: “The night of the dead begins. If the portholes of hell aren’t shut before, no dead body will ever rest in peace. The dead will rise up all over the world and take over the earth! You must get to Dunwich! You must close the gates!”


Title: Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Zynopsis: The military misplaces a group of canisters filled with experimental toxic gas that can bring the dead back to life. When the dead start to rise, a group of people got no better place to hide than the local mortuary. Will they make it through the night? Things go from bad to worse when all the dead people buried in the cemetery next door to them begin to come out of their graves! Meanwhile, the military begins to evacuate the town and place it under quarantine; will the military come rescue these poor souls? Or will they be considered expendable? 

Comments: Return of the Living Dead is one of the seminal zombie movies, it’s a ‘gotta watch’ if you are a lover of zombie films. Was this the first film to introduce fast moving zombies? On this one zombies don’t walk slowly towards you, nope, on this one zombies are rabid and fast! They’ll chomp on your neck in the blink of an eye, so you better watch it! This film is extremely fast paced and entertaining. It also has a very punk rock attitude about it, which I loved. There are many memorable zombie moments on this one including zombies picking up a walkie-talkie and telling the people at the hospital to “send more paramedics”. Also, it gives us one of the most memorable moments on any zombie movie ever! I’m speaking of the moment in which the good guys capture a zombie and ask it why it has to feed on human brains. The zombies answer? “It takes away the pain of being dead!”

Quote: “Listen, there’s a bunch of people from the cemetery who are stark raving mad and they’ll kill you and eat you if they catch you. It’s like a disease, like rabies, only faster, a lot faster! That’s why you’ve got to come and get us out of here now…right now!”


Title: Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988)

Zynopsis: In Return of the Living Dead Part II, the government misplaces yet another canister of their deadly toxic gas, unfortunately, this time the toxic canister falls in the towns’ water supply! Soon, the town is crawling with zombies left and right. A group of neighbors must work together to stay alive. It is their hope that the army will come in and save them from the brain hungry zombies. 

Comments: So this movie I love because it has a lot of zombies in it, and I mean a lot! The make up effects work is excellent, top notch stuff. My only real gripe with it is the soundtrack they chose to put on the dvd release of this film. You see, originally, this film had a real rock and roll soundtrack. Lot’s of heavy metal in there by bands such as Anthrax and Leatherwolf, unfortunately the rights to a lot of these songs where never squared out, so they were taken out of the film. To make matters worse, the soundtrack they replaced these songs with on the dvd sounds like some mentally impaired kid is playing with a synthesizer. So, so, bad! But the film itself is still fun times, I always get a kick out of James Karen and Thom Mathew’s grave robbers, their exchanges are always a howl. The film was directed by Ken Wiederhorn, the guy responsible for Shock Waves (1977), supposedly he had no real passion for making this film, but in my opinion you wouldn’t even know it because the film is fast paced, has some great make up effects, and is a respectable sequel to the original. If only they could get that original soundtrack back!  There are many memorable moments on this one, like the talking zombie head, or the zombie hand that gives everyone a hard time when it slips inside of a car!

Quote: “Get that damned screwdriver out of my head!”


Title: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Zynopsis: In Dawn of the Dead the zombie apocalypse has just reached a fever pitch! The world is going insane because the dead are coming out of their graves, suddenly nobody gives a crap about anything or anybody, it’s every man for himself as they say. But a group of strangers decides to steal a police helicopter and make a run for it to a nearby island, which they hope will be zombie free. But for the time being, they make a pit stop in a local mall and lock themselves up good inside of it. They begin to get comfortable, they figure they have everything they need to survive inside of it, so why leave? 

Comments: Without a doubt, Dawn of the Dead is one of the most important zombie movies ever made. Along with the Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Day of the Dead (1985), Romero has constructed a trio of films that every one will look up to when they try and make a zombie film. Like most of Romero’s zombie flicks, Romero talks about human behaviour, how we are a consumerist culture, buying things out of habit, or like we are programmed to. We walk to the mall to buy, buy, buy! Ever been to a mall jam packed with people and felt they were all zombies?  Also it comments on how easy humanity can fall apart and become chaotic and ravenous. One moment everyone is playing by the rules, the other, its total pandemonium! The first few moments of this film are extremely chaotic, a dreadful vibe is absorbed, you’ll feel like there’s no tomorrow. The re-make of this film Dawn of the Dead (2004) was a good one. Highly recommend it as well. Kudos to Romero for making such an important film on only 650,000.00!  

Quote: “I have given them the last rites. Now, you do what you will. You are stronger than us, but soon, I think they be stronger than you”


Title: Plague of the Zombies (1966)

Zynopsis: On Plague of the Zombies the story revolves around a plague that’s causing people to die, and then coming back as zombies. A doctor investigates the mysterious events only to come to the conclusion that there’s voodoo magic at work here! Who’s at the root of all evil? Who is the zombie master?  

Comments: So yeah, Hammer films made about 10 Dracula movies, about 10 Frankenstein films, but only one zombie film, and that was Plague of the Zombies. This one has many similarities with White Zombie (1931), Bela Lugosi’s zombie masterpiece. The similarities begin with the witchcraft/voodoo angle, and with the idea of using zombies as slaves to run a sugar mill. Also, I’ve always said that this film inspired Sam Raimi a bit for the Evil Dead. It’s no secret that Raimi loves updating ideas from older horror classics, he did it with Drag Me To Hell which was a re-working of some ideas presented in Jack Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957). The scene that got me to think Raimi had seen this film is the dream sequence in which a girl comes out of her grave, and her boyfriend has to chop of her head, then her body falls on him just like in Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987). The zombie on this film doesn’t really appear all that much, but when he does appear it’s quite the visual.

Quote: “Someone in this village is practicing witchcraft. That corpse wondering on the moors is an undead, a zombie.”


Title: Horror Express (1972)

Zynopsis: A train travels across the snowy mountains of Siberia, in it, the body of a monster that was found in the mountains of Manchuria. The scientists who found it believe it to be missing link between man and prehistoric man. The creature is sealed inside of a cargo box, but curious minds want to know what is inside! What they soon discover is a creature that hypnotizes it's victims, sucks the knowledge from their brains and turns them into zombies!

Comments: Horror Express is a nifty little movie that could almost be mistaken for being a Hammer film, hell; it even stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee! But this isn’t a Hammer flick at all. Still, it’s an excellent and often times underrated horror film, more horror fans should give this one a try. Interesting thing about this movie is the atmosphere it has. 95% of the film takes place on the claustrophobic confines of a train, and there’s a snow storm raging on outside! It’s a very spooky setting! Then we have a mad monk on board that could rival Rasputin! He’s spreading rumors around that Satan is with them on the train! The real horror comes when people start believing that the monster in the train could be the devil, or the antichrist! In some ways it was similar to The Mist (2007) because of this. The debate; is it Satan? Is it a monster? Is it big foot? What is it? But, the film this one is really emulating is The Thing From Another World (1951). So many similarities between this film and that one. Still, some elements make this one unique, like the red eyed zombies that bleed out of their eyes!  A very effective horror film that shouldn’t be ignored.

Quote: “You think evil can be killed with a bullet? Satan lives. The Unholy One is amongst us!”

Memorable Zombie Moment: ZOMBIE HEAD GIVES HEAD!

Title: Re-Animator (1985)

Zynopsis: Dr. Herbert West is conducting experiments dealing with the re-animation of dead tissue. Can a person be successfully brought back from the dead? Dr. Herbert West intends to find out! His invented a serum that revives the body, but does it also revive a persons soul? The real problem is that West’s test subjects keep piling up! Soon, they are too many to control and as a result, things spiral into chaos. The ending is a full blast zombie Armageddon. Can anybody stop this mad scientist? Will his experiments ever get anywhere?

Comments: So this is one of Stuart Gordon’s finest horror films. He has an interesting bunch of films under his belt, many of which are memorable horror films, but this is the one that started it all for him. Herbert West is played by the always interesting Jeffrey Combs, who went on to become a horror icon himself. The formula for this movie was obviously to go as over the top and crazy as possible. As a result we have the infamous zombie head giving head scene. It is said that David Gale lost his then girlfriend after she saw this scene. But the zaniness doesn’t stop there, this movie is gory as hell and totally, totally nuts in a way that only horror movies from the 80’s could. Barbara Crampton, Jeffrey Combs and director Stuart Gordon would reunite once again for more films like Gordon’s From Beyond (1986) (my own personal favorite Stuart Gordon film), Fortress (1992) and Castle Freak (1995). 

Quote: “Who’s going to believe a talking head? Get a job in a sideshow!”

Memorable Zombie Moment: PETER CUSHING ZOMBIE

Title: Tales from the Crypt (1972)

Zynopsis: On this anthology film, Peter Cushing participates in the third segment entitled “Poetic Justice” in which he played an old man who loves making toys for little kids. Unfortunately, his neighbors think he is creepy and they want him out of the neighborhood so they decide to play a nasty prank on him.   

Comments: So yeah, Tales from the Crypt is more than the HBO series or the two movies it spawned. The very first Tales from the Crypt film ever made was made by the guys at Amicus Productions and it just so happens to be a good one. On this film we get various horror stories woven into one film, so it’s an anthology film which was Amicus Productions modus operandi. They would always make anthology films, it was their speciality. Amicus making a film based on the old Tales from the Crypt was a perfect because each issue of the Tales from the Crypt comics was always composed of many short stories in one issue. But Peter Cushing participates in one of the best stories in the whole thing. Highly recommend this movie, every story is actually pretty decent, and it was a film directed by the great Freddie Francis who was one of Hammer Studios finest directors.

Well, that’s it boys and girls, hope you enjoyed the article. If you want to see the first part of this article check it out over here: Memorable Moments In Zombie Zinema Part I  and if you wan't even more memorable zombie moments go to PART III of this artcile entitled Memorable Moments in Zombie Zinema Part III! 


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