The Super Nintendo Mini for Horror Fans!

So today I grabbed one of these beauties:

The Super Nintendo Mini! I preordered it several weeks ago, actually upon announcement, as this was my favourite video game system of all time.

I’ve only hooked it up to a little Sonic TV and I’ve played almost all of the 21 games, I leave the RPGs to a later date, but the unit is cute, about ten cm square and 5 or 6 cm high, but the controllers feel like they are the same size as the old ones. I bought it so I could play Super Mario and Mario Kart again, but was thrilled to find that a couple of frustrating old favs in the horror/ science fiction genre have made it on as well.

The awesome sideways scrolling…. actually, these three all are…. beat em up/ shoot em up Castlevania IV where you are making your way through a map slowly taking on harder and harder villains and obstacles.

Next is Super Ghouls and Ghosts:

Super Ghouls n Ghosts was a classic arcade game and it’s still fun and frustrating and features a brave knight in a fight against zombies, werewolves and other supernatural beasties.

Last but not least was the game Contra III: The Alien Wars

Contra III is another similar style of game but can be for two players simultaneously as two tough guys are up against an alien invasion.

So what did I think of the unit? Well, I’m not a retro gamer in the slightest and even though I appreciate the look back at the past and the fun that I had with these games, especially things like Starfox and Street Fighter in addition to the ones I mentioned above, but I’d rather super cool, realistic graphics and online connectivity with my gaming. Sure this was fun, but we certainly live in a better time for gaming now!

It’s a fun distraction, but I don’t see myself playing it for a great deal of time.


Easter Review: Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993) 

Happy Easter everyone! Hope you are enjoying your eggs and get to spend some time with the ones you love. The guy from THIS particular film wanted to do that very thing, but got more than he bargained for…
‘Tis the day of resurrection, and so here is one from the re watch pile…

Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)

Film: The first Return of the Living Dead film was a revelation to me when I saw it at Village Cinemas Sylvania when I was a teen. It was probably one of the first dates I ever took a girl on, and she never went out with me ever again.

Sorry Kylie.

Everything that was achieved in the film was amazing: art design, soundtrack, the cast… it felt like, to this little Australian suburban kid, what the American punk experience would be like, and then you throw something like zombies into the mix: astounding!

A few years later the sequel came out, and I was a slightly older teen then, but could immediately recognise that the new filmmakers hadn’t necessarily realised what made the first film what it was and filled the sequel with a real generic group of victims and they amped the dumb comedy up as they possibly didn’t have the skill Dan O’Bannon had with delivering the subtleties of black comedy.

By the time I had heard a third was coming out I was rolling my eyes, wondering how crap it could be… then I saw female lead Mindy Clarke on the cover of Fangoria and I though immediately,’ I gotta see this’. Looking like the daughter of a mating between Pinhead from Hellraiser and Trash from the first Return of the Living Dead, the contrast between the actress’ beauty and her ‘body modification gone bad’ appearance stunned me, and put this film in my headlights!

Whereas the first sequel had gone for laughs, this sequel written by John Penney (The Kindred) and directed by Brian Yuzna (Beyond Reanimator, Society), I had a pretty good idea that this movie was gonna be a trip.

Onto the film…

Julie (Mindy, now Melinda, Clarke) is desperate to see what goes on in her boyfriend Curt’s (J. Trevor Edmond) father, Colonel Reynolds’ military research facility. Curt, due to… well him being a teen and Julie being smoking hot… steals his father’s security card and sneaks in to find out what is going on.

What IS going on is that Colonel Reynolds is a part of a team who are trying to use 2-4-5 Trioxin, a chemical originally created to destroy marijuana but had the awful side effect of bringing the dead back to life, to try and create an army of controllable undead ‘bio-units’ to use in war instead of living soldiers.

They witness one of the experiments, and Julie becomes entranced by the idea of the Living Dead, hungry for brains.

Unfortunately, Curt and Julie have an accident and Curt decides to take Julie’s corpse to the lab to revive her, not knowing, or not caring, that she’ll become a zombie.

Of course she does become one, but finds that through self-mutilation she can control the urges up to a point… but how can a relationship work when one of the members is a reanimated corpse? Especially when you’ve upset the local gang… and maybe have bitten one of them…

This film is a blast; director Brian Yuzna isn’t the greatest director who ever lived, but what he lacks in talent he makes up for in enthusiasm and his ability to assemble a cast who can deliver a crazy story convincingly. Also, his lack of restraint when it comes to special effects is also something to be admired!

Black humour is one of those things than can easily not work, and the best thing they could of done with this story was keep it as the tragedy it was set up to be, which they did, and the whole tale works perfectly. Using some of the ideas proposed in the other two films, that is: being dead hurts, makes for a pretty interesting journey our heroes go on.

It’s atypical of most zombie films as there are actually few zombies! There’s no gigantic pandemic, no masses of the undead, just a couple of people in love making bad decisions… it even at times riffs on Frankenstein with its creator/ monster relationship. 

I do enjoy every second of it and recommend it to fans of the zombie genre.

Score: ****

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was performed on a region 1, USA release DVD which is about 10 years old. The film runs approximately 96 minutes with a not very sharp 16×9 image but with an OK Dolby 2.0 audio track.

Score: **

Extras: Surprisingly, this disc has three extras on it. There are two commentaries, one with director Brian Yuzna where he muses on the creation of the film and his cast and crew, and the other with actor Mindy Clarke, and second unit director Tom Rainone. Both are interesting, and it’s even more fascinating to hear about the making of a film from employer and employees.

There is also trailers for this film, and other Yuzna directed films Progeny, The Dentist, The Dentist 2 and Faust.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I really like this film and honestly, probably haven’t seen it enough! It’s time it returned to a higher rotation!

Beyond Re-animator (2003)

One from the re-watch pile…



Film: I have probably mentioned it before on this very site, but my very favourite movie of all time… not just horror… but my very favourite, number one favourite film of all time is the 1985 film, directed by Stuart Gordon and based on the work of H. P. Lovecraft, Re-animator.

I loved it from the first moment I saw it and it turned me on to the work of Lovecraft, and the gorgeous Barbara Crampton, and I really enjoyed the combination of zombie flick, mad scientist movie and actual drama about people’s lives.

At this time in my life I loved sequels too, but always prayed that they would never make more Re-animator films as it really felt like a cool complete movie, but Yuzna knew he was on a good thing so we have been treated to two sequels: Bride of Re-animator and this, Beyond Re-animator.

Beyond Re-animator find Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) interred in a cruel prison when a young doctor, Howard Phillips (Jason Barry) takes up residency in the infirmary.


Dr Phillips didn’t accidently end up there though, he deliberately sought out the place where West was imprisoned so he could have some questions answered about the death of his sister, at the hands of one of West’s reanimated subjects.

Of course, answers of this kind are easily found, and Phillips finds himself under the oppressive hand of an unpleasant prison warden (Simon Andreu) and an increasing amount of re-animated bodies, and that jail is not the best place to be trapped with them.

This was one of Yuzna’s Spanish created Fantastic Factory jobs, a company he was attempting to build into the new ‘Hammer’ in the late eighties and early 90s. A couple of good films came out of that, including the adaptation of the David Quinn/ Tim Vigil comic Faust and I don’t mind this so much either, even though it is pretty dumb at times.

Of course the highlight of this is Jeffrey Combs’ performance of Herbert West. He is the look down the nose, superiority complex king of mad scientists, for certain. The writing of his character lacks some of the charm of the first two outings, particularly the first, but it’s there, simmering under some below average scripting.

Unfortunately the co-stars suffer from a language barrio which makes their performances not bad, but certainly not quite ‘on point’. Don’t get me wrong, the prison characters are perfectly nuts, the warden deliciously evil and the love interest a feast for the eyes, but occasionally what they say just sits wrong.


The effects in the film are provided in part by Screaming Mad George so you know you are in for somewhat of  a treat with some of the effects.

All in all is a fun watch, but its just not great, and honestly waters down the character of Herbert West. Having said that, would I watch another one if one were made? Of course I would.

Score: **1/2


Disc: The reviewed copy of this film is the U.K.  Arrow Films DVD release, which runs for approximately 92 minutes and is present in a decent 1.78:1 anamorphic image with a matching 2.0 audio.

Score: ***

Extras: There are three extras on this DVD:

The Director’s Commentary with Brian Yuzna sees Yuzna himself talk about the film and its creation and is a fairly complete document of the film.

 All in the Head: Brian Yuzna and the Re-animator Chronicles  is an interview with Brian Yuzna about his career both with and without Herbert West. It goes for about an hour and is pretty complete.

There is also a trailer for the film.

The packaging is pretty cool though: there is an awesome The Dude Designs reversible cover (with the original poster on the other side) and a poster of the TDD cover as well. Calum Waddell has also leant his journalistic skills to a booklet which discusses the world of Lovecraft.

Score: ****


Zombruary Review: Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)

On our last review of Zombruary, we have one from the re watch pile…
Dellamorte Dellamore aka The Cemetery Man (1994)

Film: Shameless Screen Entertainment tricked me. Being a completist, I can’t help but grab every release they do as they have numbers clearly shown on the spine of each DVD or bluray they release. 

Cheeky buggers.

But I have to admit my chagrin may be not as severe as it could be, as through the perpetual purchases of their product, I have watched some films that I possible would never had been exposed to the likes of Who Watched Her Die or Torso.

This however is a film I would have grabbed even if I wasn’t a nutjob collector. This film has always been of interest to me for several reasons: it’s based on the comic Dylan Dog and I’m a sucker for comic movies, it stars Anna Falchi who is just exquisite (and has an amazing body which is shown off several times in this film), and is directed by Michele Soavi, who also directed Stagefright and The Church, two films I love!

Our story tells of gravedigger, Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) who doesn’t just bury the dead, but also has the job at a graveyard of re-burying the Dead who have returned to life, or ‘returners’ as he calls them along with his sidekick/ employee Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro).

Dellamorte Dellamore: Rupert Everett as our hero!

Whilst at a gravesite one day he sees a widow, referred to as ‘She’ (Anna Falchi), who is burying her husband, and he decides she is the most beautiful living person he has ever seen, and decides he needs to pursue her.

He eventually lands his prize, but she dies of fright after seeing her returned deceased husband, Dellamorte’s life starts to decline… and perhaps his mental stability too, after he is visited by death itself, and doppelgänger of his beloved….

Dellamorte Dellamore: Anna Falchi… sigh.

It’s a great movie, with great looking zombies and a real different way of looking at the ‘zombie problem’ and it’s full of black comedy and with a nihilistic ending which is a surprising flip in tone, and is entertaining throughout.

Score: ****1/2

Dellamorte Dellamore DVD menu screen

Format: This U.K. Release from Shameless Screen Entertainment on DVD runs for approximately 103 minutes and is presented with an OK, 16:9 image with a similar Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The audio is available in English or Italian with English subtitles. It basicLly a good image, but has a touch of pixelation here and there and the colours sometimes run flat.

Score: ***

Extras: The disc opens with reviews for other Shameless Screen Entertainment releases Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Cannibal Holocaust.

Other extras include a trailer, a gallery (which is a usual pretty boring piece, only 15 photos from Alan Jones’ personal collection, some behind the scenes shots and a few pics of the script and a poster), there is a Shameless Trailer Park which features trailers for other Shameless releases Venus in Furs, The Frightened Woman, Who Saw Her Die, The Designated Victim, Oasis of Fear, Baba Yaga, Footprints on the Moon, Satan’s Baby Doll, The Beast in Space, The Strange Vice of Mrs Watch, Almost Human and Don’t Torture a Duckling.

There is also a fantastic commentary by Soavi and writer Gianni Romoli which really gets into the nuts and bolts of the making of the film, though it is , as expected, in Italian with English subtitles.

Journalist Alan Jones has also provided an interesting personal account of the Ma king of the film in an accompanying booklet.

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s a gem. You’ll watch it again and again!

Dellamorte Dellamore: a Zombie’s Guide to the Scout Apocalypse

Zombeavers (2014) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Zombeavers (2014)

Zombeavers Australian Bluray cover

Film: Yeah. You read that right. Zombeavers. The film that takes all the very best from Zombies, and adds it to beavers.

Beavers. You know, the dam building, buck toothed water-dwelling mammals.

Yeah. Them.

Our story begins as Eight Legged Freaks and Return of the Living Dead 2 did, and probably hundreds of other horror films, with a truck accidentally dropping chemical/ medical waste into a river, which unfortunately changes a few members of the local wildlife into undead killing machines… ok, it’s beavers.

It’s where the film gets it’s clever title from.

Zombeavers: Mary, Zoe and Jenn.

Unfortunately for sorority sisters Mary (Rachel Melvin), Zoe (Courtney Palm) and Jenn (Lexi Atkins), the mutated zombie-beavers take up residence in the lake just outside of her cousin’s house where they have decided to take a weekend sabbatical, without their boyfriends.

Of course, their obnoxious boyfriends Sam (Hutch Dano), Tommy (Jake Weary) and Buck (Peter Gilroy) turn up and their sabbatical turns into a weekend of sex and odious behaviour… sounds awesome!

Very soon, the Zombeavers descend upon the group and no one is safe from the teeth that bite and claws that slash… who will survive the night, and will the virus the Zombeavers spread kill them all?

Zombeavers: a zombeaver.

Who cares? They are all douchebags!

Zombeavers is the only film to date to be directed by Jordan Rubin, who is normally a comedy writer and has worked with people like Conan O’Brian and on TV shows like Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Crank Yankers and The Man Show. It was also written by Rubin along with Al and Jon Kaplan.

It starts with an awesome Scooby Doo styled beginning, is full of some preposterously bad CGI and some real silly practical effects, is full of lame gags and has scenes lifted out of films like Creepshow 2, Black Sheep and the Scary Movie series, and yet still somehow entertained. Not due to fine performances or exquisite wit, but just for the sheer stupidity of the concept and execution.

Make sure you still around for the end credits and the Frank Sinatra styled, crooning Zombeavers song: it’s now been stuck in my head for 2 hours!

Score: *1/2

Zombeavers bluray menu screen

Format: Thankfully, Zombeavers only runs for 77 minutes and is presented, on this Australian region B bluray release, in a good 1.78:1 image with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Score: ****1/2

Extras: Nothing, not a sausage.

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s so stupid, and yet with a weird funny charm to it… I hate to admit it, but I may actually watch this again.

Zombeavers: zombeaver/ human hybrid.

Fido (2006) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Fido (2006)

My ex-rental DVD copy of Fido

Film: After Shaun of the Dead came out, it seemed every man and his dog wanted to make a zombie comedy, some of which worked, some of which didn’t. This film, Fido, written by Robert Chomiak, Andrew Currie and Dennis Heaton, and directed by Currie, is one of the lesser celebrated ones, which is unfortunate as it does at least deserve one viewing, though personally, it’s not a huge rewatcher.

In what appears to be an alternate 1950’s America, we are told via an educational (read that as propaganda) film that a radioactive dust fell to earth from space, and caused the dead to rise and try to eat human flesh. Then the zombies wars came, and mankind survived, and through the research of Zomcom, a company who then walled the cities to protect the citizens, a way to domesticate the undead was discovered and they became servants of mankind, taking care of menial tasks.

Fido: Loder as Timmy and Connelly as Fido

We are introduced to our hero Timmy (Kesun Loder), a young man who is the subject of bullying at school and doesn’t have any real friends. His parents, Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Bill (Dylan Baker) have a strained relationship, mainly due to his lack of familial care, which is made even worse when Helen brings home a domesticated zombie, whom Timmy names Fido (Billy Connelly).

Timmy and Fido become great friends, but when Fido’s collar malfunctions and he kills a member of the neighbourhood, Timmy covers up the murder, but not before she kills another and causes a small uprising.

All through this though, Timmy questions various aspects of why zombies are what they are, both from a scientific and theological aspect… can the Living and the Dead co-exist?

Thematically there is a lot going on in this film. It takes a wry look at subjects like freedom vs security, at corporations controlling our lives when the government fails, oppression of minorities… all sorts of stuff.

From a cinematic point of view, there are some real clever elements here. The world of humanity is bright and vibrant and most of the zombies are discoloured so they appear to be in black and white, except for one zombie, Tammy, who’s owner is attempting to make her a surrogate wife. She is a microcosm of the entire film: there is a polished veneer over a society that is rotten to the core. 

It’s a well cast film too; Loder plays the 50s styled kid perfectly and isn’t annoying at all. Baker is the perfect uptight Dad with a few mental problems. Moss is delightful as the keeping up appearances mother, and Henry Czerny is great as the ‘company man’ who wants to contain and clamp down any situation. Connelly somehow plays Fido quite understated, and manages to convey what’s left of his humanity quite well.

Fido: Baker as Bill and Moss as Helen

Essentially what we have here is a funny parody of things like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, but with zombies instead of dogs as the trusty, non-English speaking hero.

Score: ***1/2

The Fido DVD menu screen

Format: The reviewed copy of this film is an ex-rental Australian DVD which runs for approximately 89 minutes and presented in a below average 2.35:1 image with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. 

Score: ***

Extras: Not a wholly bad bunch of extras on this disc:

In the audio section we have a choice to listen to a commentary by director Currie, producer Mary Anne Waterhouse, and actress Moss. It’s a great technical commentary and talks about the entire aspect of script and film. A great film-student commentary.

Fido Family Portraits has conceptual art, make up and stills from the film presented as a slideshow with some accompanying music. I don’t normally go for stills galleries, but this is presented nicely.

There is some DVD-Rom ‘Zombie Me’ creator thing which has not been reviewed. I imagine it is the pre-iPhone app version of

Making of Fido is a short summary of what the film is thematically about.

Blooper reel is short and sweet it just shows a bunch of people not doing their jobs properly. Only kidding. I thought it would be a lot funnier considering, you know, Billy Connelly, but no.

There is a commentary with the score composer Don MacDonald which if, like me, you’re interested in score and cinema music is quite fascinating.

There a six deleted scenes with directors commentary which are interesting, but better off omitted.

In addition, there is a theatrical trailer.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: It’s a cute, light-hearted, with occasional dark elements, zombie comedy but I doubt if I will revisit it.

Fido: when Daddy becomes a zombie….

Land of the Dead (2005) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Land of the Dead (2005)

Land of the Dead: Australian bluray cover

Film: One of the hazards I have encountered with starting my own genre-related movie blog after doing reviews for well over ten years is that eventually I am going to have to re-review a film that I did years ago. I have attempted to avoid that very thing where possible but I knew it would eventually happen, and I believe that this is the one!

One can’t have a zombie-film only month like Zombruary without a particular name eventually emerging: George A. Romero. He’s horror royalty as far as I am concerned, and with the influential Night of the Living Dead, gut-stompingly amazing Dawn of the Dead and epic gore-fest Day of the Dead, he nailed down his undead crown.

When this first came out, and I reviewed it for a site I once worked for, I totally was in love with it. I loved seeing Romero work again, and I’m not a guy who enjoys and uncovers subtexts about consumerism and stuff, I just love that first zombie trilogy! 

Time can open one’s eye though, and my memory of this is false. It’s actually not as good as I remember, which actually struck me as sad that my thrill, a decade ago, is tempered.

Land of the Dead continues the evolution that we thought was finished 20 years previously in Day of the Dead, but now we see that society has devolved into three levels. The Dead exist with some kind of muscle memory of what and who they were alive, and tend to return to their regular locations to continue what they used to be, which was explored in Dawn of the Dead. The middle level is a destitute form of humanity, barely alive and with an almost Wild West self-governing state, which is where we find our hero, Riley Denbo (Simon Baker) who works for the upper classes, who live in a huge building with all the mod-cons, and run by Kaufman (Dennis Hopper).

Land of the Dead: Simon Baker as Riley

To keep the upper class running at their pre-living dead era level, Kaufman employs Dendo and others, including his badly scarred sharpshooter, Charlie (Robert Joy) and rival Cholo (John Leguizamo), who leave the confines of the moated city to collect food from the suburbs, but it is a dangerous job as the Dead will emerge from their rut-like stupor to feed on the living.

Riley has a plan to escape though, and has been funding a car so he can leave the oppressiveness of the impoverish parts of the city and be free, but his investment disappears, and he confronts the crooked supplier, only to end up helping a captured girl who was to be fed to some zombies for entertainment, Slack (Asia Argento).

Land of the Dead: Asia Argento

Cholo is also stiffed on a deal, but he wants to join the people in ‘high society’ so he steals the truck that is used to collect supplies from the outside world, nicknamed Dead Reckoning, and soon Kaufman employs Denbo, Charlie and Slack to get it back, but what none of them realise is that a zombie, Big Daddy (Eugene Clark) has become intelligent enough to form a plan of his own, and starts organising an army of zombies in this land of the dead….

Tragically, upon reflection, I am reminded of another George who perhaps should have left his legacy alone: George Lucas. Whilst upon rewatching I still had the same love for Romero’s original films, this just doesn’t hold up, and I was even struggling to see what I was thrilled about when I first saw it. 

Honestly, it was probably Asia Argento, zombies and gore. 

Score: **1/2

Land of the Dead: Australian bluray menu screen

Format: The reviewed copy of Land of the Dead was the Australian bluray copy was presented in an amazing 2.35:1 video with a perfect Dolby digital DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****1/4

Extras: A decent bunch of extras here:

The Remaining Bits is a look at the deleted scenes, most of which the movie doesn’t suffer for losing.

When Shaun Met George takes a look at Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s cameo appearance in Land of the Dead. Basically this was Romero’s way of thanking the guys for Shaun of the Dead.

Scenes of Carnage is just a summary of the zombie munching scenes in Land of the Dead. I don’t know why a violence summary was needed. It it’s definitely a waste of disc space, for sure.

Zombie Effect: From Green Screen to Finished Scene shows the raw footage of some of the scenes and then with the effects added, unfortunately with no commentary.

Bringing the Storyboards to Life compares the cool, comic-y Storyboards to the final result, again, unfortunately with no commentary.

Scream Tests: Zombie Casting Call is thankfully barely a minute long and shows some barely well rendered CGI zombies dancing the ‘Thriller’ Zombie dance. Stupid, and with commentary, has no relevance.

There is also a commentary with Romero, producer Peter Grunwald and editor Michael Doherty which tells a lot of behind the scenes stuff that the extras missed out on.

There is also a thing called ‘U-control’ which, when activated shows a bunch of proper behind the scenes stuff, in a picture-in-picture way. This extra and the commentary saved these extras from being totally terrible.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for this picture has diminished over the years, and my rewatch has tempered by enjoyment, and quashed the memory of it being fantastic. I think if I have the choice to watch another Romero ‘dead’ film, it won’t be this one.

Land of the Dead: Savini vs Humans.

Burial Ground (1981) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Burial Ground aka Le Notti Del Terrore (1981)

The 88 Films Bluray cover for Burial Ground

Film: I didn’t get to see all the 80s horror I now love in the 80s, some of it I only discovered since this more permissive age of DVD and Bluray where so many films, previously cut to death or not released at all in Australia, or perhaps were part of the American MPAA slash fest, or nailed to the wall as a Video Nasty in the UK. I am especially thankful to the Australian company Umbrella for giving me an opportunity to see things I never thought i’d see, or things I didn’t even knew existed!

Several years ago Umbrella came up with the concept of releasing several films with an old school E.C. Comics styled cover and amongst those releases was this film, Andrea Bianchi’s Burial Ground The Nights of Terror, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Burial Ground: Peter Bark!!

Burial Ground tells of three oversexed couples, and one twenty seven year old man made up to look like a child (Peter Bark), who visit an old building in the country owned by one of the gentlemen. What they don’t realise is that a nutty professor who looks like Rasputin, has been researching the Etruscan history of the house and has accidentally unleashed a small-ish legion of the undead!

Will this unpleasant bunch of boosh-wah morons survive the undead as they try to get into the house; will they be able to survive… the Night of Terror?!?

It’s a strange film insomuch as it has some below-average acting, bizarre casting, odd underlying themes of incest, sleazy men with hot girlfriends and blatant product placement, but then it has some beautiful surrounds, gore-a-plenty and stupidly awesome zombie make-up… seriously, so-bad-it’s-good nails the description in this case.

Burial Ground: anyone else suddenly feel like a J&B Scotch?

It probably isn’t a film that deserves much care taken with it, but the beautiful thing is how much care HAS been taken with this release! The image is amazingly sharp and obviously a lot of time was taken to clean it up, bravo to 88 Films in that case.

Score: ***1/2

Burial Ground 88 Films bluray menu

Format: This film was reviewed with the UK company 88 Films bluray edition from their ‘Italian Collection, this being number 14 in the set. It was remastered for bluray and looks great, presented in 1.66:1 with an equally nicely remastered 2.0 audio track in English, and an 2.0 Italian audio with English subtitles which is also excellent. 

Score: ****

Extras: There’s a nice bunch of extras on this disc:

A trailer and some audioless deleted scenes, but the funky soundtrack makes up for it. I can’t make a comment on whether or not these scenes are necessary as without the audio it makes them somewhat difficult to read, and ultimately redundant. One can’t have too much Peter Bark though, can you?

‘WTF’ an Interview with Mikel Coven looks at the films of Andrea Bianchi through the eyes of film historian Mikel Coven. It’s interesting and a great overlook of Bianchi’s output, even though Coven doesn’t seem to be a fan of his… or is he?

Also we have a trailer for Zombi Holocaust.

We also have a commentary on the film by John Martin, hosted by High Rising Productions Calum Waddell which takes a fun look at Bianchi history and the production of this film. It’s told, obviously, from a third party source, but it’s funny and interesting, and the two hosts clearly enjoy the,selves.

One last interesting thing, which I have decided to count as an extra, is there is the opportunity to watch this film in a ’35mm Grindhouse’ version, which is another way of saying ‘old VHS’ as there is heaps of static both on screen and on the soundtrack; so many snap, crackles and pops you’ll feel like a bowl of cereal by the time it finishes.

Also, this version comes with a reservable sleeve, an art card and a booklet with an article about the film by Calum Waddell and a small commentary about the film’ s transfer for bluray.

Score: ****

WISIA: I dig it and find it compelling due to its sleaziness and flat out weirdo-ness, you might too, and that is what will make it a re-watcher!

Burial Ground: it’s a zombie!!!

House of the Dead (2003) Review

One from the re watch pile…
House of the Dead (2003)

House of the Dead Australian DVD cover

Film: Being the ideas man at some studios must be the easiest job in the world because basically, you don’t need any. It seems to me what you do is look at everything happening in pop culture, and find a way to cash in on it.

This isn’t a new thing: Hollywood has basically been bereft of new ideas for decades and in general it’s up to independent companies to shake things up. Everything lingering in pop culture is a target: books, comics, toys, video games… ah yes, the video game movie.

Such ‘hits’ as Bloodrayne, Tomb Raider and Super Mario Bros are great examples of what not to do, as is this amazing piece of crap, House of the Dead, directed by professional nerd-beater and directorial hack-a-roni, Uwe Boll.

(Caveat: Resident Evil is pretty good, so I’m not aiming my total disdain at every video game movie).

House of the Dead is barely based on the video game, but instead shows stuff that happens in the game and changes the environment to suit a pretty ordinary story, which presents itself as a prequel to the game.

A bunch of forgettable youngsters (played by people in their 30s, by the looks of it: it’s like Beverly Hills 90210 all over again) travel to an island where a rave is taking place, only to find they are late to the party, and the other partygoers have been turned into zombies!

House of the Dead: Jürgen Prochnow and Clint Howard check their bank books.

They hitch a ride to the island with a cranky old sea captain (Jürgen Prochnow) and his first mate (Clint Howard) who are being persued by the law for smuggling, and have to try and survive the zombie outbreak and maybe unravel the secrets of the house of the dead.

Now it may seem like I’m a Boll basher but I’m not. There have been a couple of his films of his that I actually enjoy, but this is just terrible. The idea of using footage from the video game as segues is a bad one as it serves as a constant reminder that this is not an original piece of work, and the use of some of the Matrix bullet cam is bizarre and really used only because they could and not as an aspect of the film, like Zack Snyder and his excessive use of slow motion which serves no purpose other than to sell an effect or lengthen his films by 20 minutes.

House of the Dead: in game footage used in the movie for ‘effect’.

Above all this though the story is quite generic, and the acting not much better than what you’d expect in a zombie film of this level of quality, though the setting is quite ridiculous and I’d like to say that Prochnow and Howard offer some class to the film in their special guest star statuses but, well, they just don’t.

I will however give this film a star as the zombie make-up and an boobies do make it somewhat interesting, but if these are things you need in a film, there are still far better options.

Score: *

House of the Dead DVD menu screen

Format: This review was done with the Australian Eagle Entertainment region 4 DVD edition which is presented in 1.85:1 video with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, both of which are ok, except you can clearly see and hear this terrible film. It was an ex-rental and probably not worth the ‘ten for ten dollars’ price tag at a shutting down Civic Video.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: There’s really only two extras relevant to the House of the Dead on this disc. The first is a thing called ‘Behind the House’ which is thirty minutes of behind the scenes stuff with NO explanation, or commentary and the second is a good ol’ theatrical trailer.

There are three other trailers on this disc: Tough Luck, Prozac Nation and Absolon.

Score: **

WISIA: To call this film dire is an underestimation, to call it diarrhoea is far more accurate. Avoid like a stomach infection. Seriously, it’s one of the few films I’ve ever seen that caused my bluray player to gag.

House of the Dead: a house exploding cannot stand.

Summer vs Zombruary: Zombie Flesh-Eaters (1979) Review

This film serves a double purpose. It is the first of February, the final month of the Australian summer, and what better way to spend your final month of summer than on a beautiful island, with clear waters to sail upon, and the undead who wish for your destruction. Also, this is the first review of the To Watch Pile’s Zombruary: a whole month of nothing but reviews of zombie films!
One from the re watch pile…
Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Zombie Flesh-eaters: The Arrow Bluray steelbook… unfortunately mine is battle damaged!

Film: I love Lucio Fulci films as they appeal to all the things I love about horror: the disturbing tale, the gore, the nudity, the violence, and especially in Fulci’s case, the sheer oddball-ness of it, or as ‘proper’ educated film critics may put it, his use of surrealism to convey the supernatural.

But I’m just some dude who likes horror movies, so I probably wouldn’t say that!

An abandoned ship enters New York Harbour with a soul occupant who attached a harbour police officer before being shot, and knocked off board. The owner of the boat’s daughter, Anne (Tisa Farrow) is notified of the murder and decides to sneak onboard to see if she can what happened to her missing father, who did not return with the vessel.

Zombie Flesh-eaters: Ian McCulloch and Tisa Farrow using the 70s version of a mobile phone.

When she sneaks onboard, which is being guarded by the NYPD, she meets reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) who is looking for a story, and the pair of them quickly team up to back track her father’s movements to find where he has been, and what may have happened to him. They charter a boat owned by Brian Hull (Al Cliver) and his lovely girlfriend, Susan Barrett (Auretta Gay) and make their way to the island of Matul.

…but what they find is a seemingly mad doctor, Dr Menard (Richard Johnson) fighting against the undead!!! Will they find out what happened to Anne’s father? Will all of them escape the island alive? Is this the beginning of some kind of zombie holocaust; some kind of dawn of the dead?

This isn’t my favourite Fulci film: The Beyond has that honour, but instead this still sits high on the cool list for me. 

First up it’s cool that a zombie film of this period actually has a reason for the dead coming back and it’s not just some kind of facility for cinema to tell us about ourselves. I love the fact it’s just a film about zombies, and not ‘consumerism’ or whatever.

Then its just the flat out insanity of some of the scenes: the zombies aren’t freshly dead like in Dawn of the Dead, they look almost mummified and have a real creepy texture about them. Except for one, the one that fights the shark, near the basically naked Audretta Gay in a g-banger and a scuba tank.

Zombie Flesh-eaters: surf ‘n’ turf

Finally, the gore is just so fantastically over the top one can’t help but just marvel at it, I mean, it’s not extraordinarily realistic, but even to attempt some of the ideas in a world of practical effects is absolutely awe inspiring. Even going back around to the zombie versus shark sequence, one can’t help but marvel at the job.

Basically, this movie is awesome. Get it, watch it, love it!

Score: *****

Zombie Flesh-eaters Bluray menu screen

Format: The film is presented in a really nice 2.35:1 restoration with a choice of two excellent audio tracks, English or Italian, in Dolby Digital 2.0. It’s never looked at good as this, for certain!


Extras: Not sure if it’s an extra or not, but there is the opportunity to watch this film as either Zombie Flesh-Eaters, Zombie or Zombi 2. Which ever one you pick, it’s introduced by Ian McCulloch, and it’s really just a change in the title card and nothing else. Is that an extra? I’m not sure, but I thought it bore mentioning!

Also the release I have is a pretty fancy steelbook with some cool original art, and the packaging contains an excellent booklet with articles by Stephen Thrower, Calum Waddell and Craig Lapper, photos of the original script with comments by Jay Slater, Fulci’s CV and a full cast and crew list, all fully illustrated.

Outside of that it’s an Italian smorgasbord of extras. This disc treats us to two commentaries, one with Elisa Briganti who co-wrote the film with her husband Dardano Sancchetti and the other with U.K. horror journalists Stephen Thrower (writer of Nightmare USA) and Alan Jones (writer of Dario Argento: The Man, The Myth and The Magic). Both are fascinating, with Briganti’s being a fantastic look at the making of the film and the Thrower/ Jones one is a fantastic retrospective from two movie journalists, and fans, with whom I have a lot of respect.

Next we have a documentary called From Romero to Rome: The Rise and Fall of the Italian Horror Film. Starting at Night of the Living Dead, but with reflections upon older ‘zombie’ films, it looks at the Italian output in reference to Romero’s output. It’s a great look at zombie films for zombie fans.

There is a heap of trailers and advertising material here, with a U.S. trailer, the Vipco trailer, 2 TV trailers and some radio spots.

Then we have a second disc of just extras!

The first on this disc is called Aliens, Cannibals and Zombies: A Trilogy of Italian Terror which sees Ian McCulloch discuss his acting career.

Zombie Flesh-Eaters: From Script to Screen sees doco director Calum Waddell totally nerd-out (and rightly so!) at an original copy of the script with Dardano Sacchetti.

Music for a Flesh Feast is a Q and A with Fabio Frizzi which is pretty interesting look at how a composer approaches a film.

The Meat-munching Movies of Gino De Rossi is a special effects doco featuring the work of Italian special effects artist De Rossi.

Score: *****

WISIA: I couldn’t actually accurately tell you just how many times I have watched this film, it’s awesome!

Zombie Flesh-eaters: here’s worms in ya eye!