Oh boy. Tonight’s theme, partially intentional and partially unintentional, was “worse and worse.” The three movies we watched declined in quality from one to the next, but also within the films themselves, it seemed no one could stick the landing on this night.
First up was The Signal which is not a zombie film in the undead sense, but if you go by my very loose definition of “an infectious state where a human’s essence is radically shifted and they wish only to do harm to others”, then it counts. Those affected by THE SIGNAL are zombies in the same way that the crazies in The Crazies were zombies. Maybe slightly less so even. Anyway, who cares, right?
Basically, all televisions, radios and phones within the city of Terminus begin transmitting THE SIGNAL. This is an unexplained happening that causes everyone who is exposed to it for too long to essentially go crazy. Their reality becomes skewed and they turn paranoid, delusional and insanely violent. In some ways, this situation is potentially even more frightening than a zombie apocalypse. At least when a zombie is shambling toward you with ill intent, you can tell. During the signal-y apocalypse, there’s no “us vs. them” to go by. Every single person could be normal or crazy from one minute to the next. Every character has been exposed to THE SIGNAL in some way, so even the viewer is never sure exactly what reality actually is.
The story is told from three different intertwining perspectives, and interestingly enough, each of these segments had a different director. The first segment is intense and well done and sets everything up nicely. The second takes a radical turn and plays almost everything for laughs, including the insane violence. The third act is a bit of a jumbled mess that doesn’t really capitalize on the intrigue the previous two acts set up. But Part 3 doesn’t drop the ball enough to keep this from being one of the best things we’ve watched. I really liked it a lot and I give it a grade of A+.
There are two films named Forest of the Dead, so the only solution I could see to this problem was to watch them both. The first of the two is actually called “Severed: Forest of the Dead” probably to avoid any confusion or association with the Godawful badness of the other one. But we’ll get to that.
In Severed, we find the classic struggle between hippie-dippie treehuggers and rough and tumble, blue-collar loggers. And in the middle is the scientist who is using a secret experimental chemical to regenerate trees at a faster rate or something like that…anyway, who cares, right? The point is, one of the trees has a Blob-like substance on it and when a logger cuts himself and gets the goo in his bloodstream, he immediately becomes a guts-hungry, flesh-eating zombie. Cut to (no pun intended)the logging company owner’s son who was sent to Logging Island to find out why production stopped. Once there, he finds that everyone has been turned into a zombie except for the usual ragtag group of survivors. To make matters worse, the logging company finds out on its own what has happened after an incident in the science lab and they’ve decided to go into containment mode. Our heroes are trapped!
Had the movie ended when the final survivors made their escape, I could have recommended this as a halfway decent time-waster. As such, the movie decides to not end but rather go off on a twenty minute side adventure where our heroes stumble into another logging camp where things have been reduced to a state of controlled chaos by logging men who have gone crazy from isolation and apocalyptic cabin fever. Nothing in this unnecessary segment works at all and eventually everyone mercifully just dies. What a shame. I kept begging the movie to end, as with every passing minute, in my head, I could see it slipping and sliding down our rankings list. That terrible ending knocks it all the way down to a grade of C-. Only to be viewed by the so-called “zombie completists” like us.
Finally, if your definition of “exciting” is as loose as our definiton of “zombie” then I have some exciting news. There is a new reigning champion of worst of the worst. I know you’ve made yourself comfortable down there on the bottom rung, Motocross Zombies From Hell, but put your boots on and climb up one spot. “Forest of the Dead” is now the WORST MOVIE WE HAVE EVER WATCHED.
In the first half, a group of idiot friends go on a camping trip of doom and die mostly off-camera. Then a second group of friends go to meet up with them the next day and die on-camera. Anyway, who cares, right?
You can make the usual list of things that don’t work in homemade movies (dialogue, acting, editing, SFX, etc etc) but really the worst part about the movie is that pretty much nothing happens. Like I said, the first group dies almost entirely off screen, so that means there was a 45 minute build up of watching bad actors badly acting with the bonus of all their characters being unlikeable idiots. We then don’t even get the pay off of watching them die. It’s never explained what starts the killing but everyone who turns into a zombie seems to become immortal, either by unexplained design or by terrible script; it’s hard to tell. Zombies recover from decapitations and limb-chopping and can teleport to wherever they need to strike next. But again, that’s only for five minutes. 95% percent of the run time is “meet idiots being idiotic” and “here, meet some more idiots being even more idiotic.”
And perhaps the most disappointing thing is that the DVD sleeve mentions how this film was deemed “offensive to gay people”. Well, don’t waste your time hoping for that either. This movie isn’t offensive to gays for gay-bashing (which it doesn’t do anyway). It’s offensive to EVERYONE for existing in the first place. Grade: FFFFFFFFFF F!