Zombie Movie Night: Year 4 Capsule Reviews

Oct ’12

The Cabin in the Woods: Zombies are a key part of the plot but it’s not a zombie movie at all, really.  It’s hard to explain it and to do so would create massive spoilers and believe me when I say Cabin will be a million times better if you have no idea what it is going in.   A+

Shadows of the Dead: This might be interesting if the dialogue wasn’t atrocious and repetitive.  Do yourself a favor and avoid this one at all costs.  F

Evilution: … This one landed on the pleasant surprise list.  Decent plot, decent acting (mostly), effective intentional comedy…  and even a halfway decent unexpected twist on the normal zombie movie tropes.  B+

Dead Season: The film does an above average job of delving into the human element of the apocalypse.  Like is it enough to just survive?  Some might see Dead Season as a pretty obvious rip off of Day of the Dead, but I prefer to consider it an homage.  Better to be well-made, yet derivative than a 100% original turd.  B+

Nov. ’12

DeadHeads: …This movie can not get out of its own way in its apparently never ending quest to be terrible….not one choice made by the actors, directors or writers turns out to be a good one.  And let’s not get started on the ending that goes for romantic reunion at the expense of literally everything else.  D

Legend of the Bog: …Suffers most from not really knowing what it wants to be.  It has funny beats and it has dramatic beats but the parts don’t add up to a decent whole.  B-

Dead Alive: …A triumph of campy, gory fun.  I didn’t get sick this time, but it is still the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.  And I say that with all the affection in the world.  Dead Alive may be early Peter Jackson, but it holds up just as well as anything he’s done since.  A+

Juan of the Dead: …Another absolute gem.  There is a pureness of heart lurking underneath all the inanity and it is genuinely moving how far Juan is willing to go for love of friends, family and country.  I highly recommend getting your hands on this one.  A+

Night of the Living Dead: What the film does well and what I think is one of the main reasons it holds up (mostly) and has spawned so so many imitators over a forty year span is that it understands human conflict.  Individuals have the need to feel like they are in charge of their own fates.   I’ve seen bummer endings before and will again, but this one is so bleak and callous and jarring, it’s amazing.  A+

Dec. ’12

The Revenant: The plotting, pacing, and tone are all over the map.  …It is the ending where the Revenant really goes off the rails.  There might be some drama to mine from an immortal undead’s inability to commit suicide but not after eighty minutes of weak comedy.  It’s frustratingly close to being something good, but it just couldn’t quite get there.  C+

Insane in the Brain:  Once you get past the brutally long zombie intro and first murder and the pointless and tiresome exposition of the prostitutes’s characters only to have them be offed, the proceedings get much more interesting.  The silly dialogue, wacky sound effects, looping and reversing of the same shots all give Insane in the Brain a hilarious “what the hell am I watching” kind of charm.  C+

Gangs of the Dead: …Opens with some solid zombie action but quickly grinds to a halt once the characters become trapped in a warehouse.  There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done better somewhere else and for that, I just can’t recommend it.  C

Jan. ’13

A Little Bit Zombie: …Not as aggressively horrible as Deadheads…  [but] it still isn’t very good.   …The first five minutes and last five minutes are pretty solid…It’s the eighty minutes in between those two points that are the problem.  C

Bloodlust Zombies:   I really enjoyed this one.  If you purposely turn on a movie where top-billing goes to a porn star famous for having a big butt, then you can’t set your standards too high.  Between intentional comedy and unintentional comedy, it ends up being just about a laugh a minute.  B

Monster Brawl: …A loving tribute to both movie monsters and pro wrestling.  …Once you know who wins the matches, it would probably take away most of the fun, but for one night, I found Monster Brawl to be absolutely hilarious and well worth my time.  A

Feb. ’13

Zombie Dearest: The film tries vaguely to be a take on the monkey paw tale, where making wishes has unintended consequences, but there is no continuity to this at all.   …The more I think about it, the more I hate it.  We also get the most offensive ending…Deus Ex Machina.  D

Resident Evil: Damnation:  The style of the movie takes some getting used to, as it plays like a 2 hour video game cut scene.  The whole thing is a jumbled mess of fake politics that is hard to get into.  I’ve never played more than half of any RE games, so if I can’t be distracted by saying, “oh cool, it’s Leon!” then what’s in it for me?  C

March ’13

Scary or Die: …Five short films of varying lengths…the first one is the best.   It’s hard to give Scary or Die a grade because of the varying length and quality of each story so I’ll just stick to the middle of the road and say it’s a C.  If you’re not going into it expecting an interlocking zombie story, you might bump it to a B.

Rise of the Zombies: This movie is an absolute joke and you get the sense that the actors know it too.   It holds your interest the way a car crash holds your interest, but ultimately we were enjoying it for all the wrong reasons.  D

April ’13

Hunting Creatures:  …All the trademarks of an amateur shoot.  Bad acting, bad effects, minimalist plot.  It’s too bad to recommend a watch, but there are definitely worse zombie movies you could waste your time with.  D+

The Bay:  If the victims had all turned into zombies or even just crazed killers, the movie would have not only qualified but probably gotten a good grade.  As it is, all the decent build lazily climaxes and the resolution to the disaster occurs offscreen.  So much wasted opportunity here.  And definitely no zombies.  Grade: N/A  (Disqualified from Golden Zombey contention)

Remains:  The acting isn’t bad… but the problem lies more in the characterizations.  It gets a better grade than Hunting Creatures simply because of the better production value, but honestly, to me, it was  more of a trudge to get through this one  C+

Warm Bodies: This film is so much more than a supernatural teen romance.   It is a disservice to dismiss this film as tween fodder.   …The subtle ways R slowly regains his color and indeed the whole world regains its life is beautifully rendered.  The performances all range from solid to outstanding.  I walked out feeling not like I had just sat through some tween garbage, but like I had seen a Top 5 zombie film.  A+

May ’13

John Dies at the End:   I didn’t get it, yet I understood it perfectly.  …it takes a hit on the grade for the lack of zombies and not being as apocalyptic as it could have been.   I would recommend seeing it for yourself  but don’t see it for its zombie content.  B

Osombie: …Above average in most areas.  A surprisingly fun little romp [that] turned into an unlikely first pager on our official rankings list.

Evil Dead: There’s nothing groundbreaking or innovative about this new film.   I mostly walked away saying, “That film seemed unnecessary.”  C+

June ’13

State of Emergency:  …a test pattern might have been more compelling.  This is a paint-by-numbers zombie flick which goes out of its way to shoehorn in just about every cliche you can think of.   Most of it is the fun kind of bad movie, but it just doesn’t pack enough punch on the scales of good or bad to be very memorable.  C

Black Swarm:   I write about a lot of movies that are enjoyably bad, but Black Swarm takes it to another level.  This movie is ridiculous.  Black Swarm is gut-bustingly hilarious in its badness.  B-

Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead: …The premise is more ambitious than the budget allows for.  The acting is subpar and some of the character motivations make no sense.  Still, this is a fun little movie that is a nice homage to Night without being the total rip-off you might expect it to be.  B

World War Z:  …Delivers in every way you would expect an action movie to deliver and it’s a thrilling and effective romp through the apocalypse.  It’s a solid zombie movie and even has enough action to satisfy someone who might not be into the undead craze.  A

July ’13

Humans Vs. Zombies:  The first half hour is a waste of time as we get to know each and every potential zombie entree.  Just something about the whole film didn’t click for me.  It’s above average to be sure, but it’s pretty run of the mill.  …I do give them credit for a dynamite ending…  B

Tokyo Gore Police:  While I enjoyed the film, I have to penalize it for not being a zombie flick. We were misled by a deceiving and downright incorrect plot synopsis…  But… it didn’t really matter.  B

Aug. ’13

Infected:   [It’s] the good kind of bad, elevating it from trash heap to middle of the pack.  This is a bad movie for general audiences but if you’re a zombie fan who loves snarking on things, you probably won’t be disappointed. B-

Detention of the Dead:  …Once the survivng group of high school cliches starts acting scared… the film upgrades itself from unwatchable screwball comedy to slightly more watchable zombie movie.    It’s weird for a comedy to get better when it stops being a comedy, but that’s the case…  C

Sept. ’13

Gallowwalkers:  Takes a promising premise…  and turns it into a confusing and largely boring mess.  Snipes basically plays a not-very-different version of Blade but it doesn’t really work.  C

Harold’s Going Stiff:  …A rather well-done mockumentary…It’s a character study between an old invalid and the nurse who comes to care for him.  If it had ditched the lame jokes and gone all in on the social commentary…it would have been a contender for one of the best we’ve ever seen.  A

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