Planet Terror (2007)

One from the re watch pile for Zombruary…

Planet Terror (2007)

Film: I have to admit to being a pretty huge Robert Rodriguez fan. There is something about the hot Texan look and the cool not-really-70s vibe that really resonates with me. I am neither old enough nor have I ever lived in American, so the whole Grindhouse experience isn’t really one of mine, but being a teen in the 80s, I get how a film can seem more violent or sexy from the ‘dirtiness’ of the image.

According to Rodriguez’s forward in the book ‘Grindhouse: The Sleaze-Filled Saga of an Exploitation Double Feature’, he came up with idea of a double feature before he filmed Sin City, but put it on hold until he presented the idea to Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino loved the idea and eventually the two decided to of make two brand new films that were made to look like 70s exploitation flicks. Those two film became RR’s Planet Terror and QT’s Death Proof as tragically the experiment failed, and the distributors, the Weinstein Brothers withdrew it from release, only to release each film as single feature, double disc blurays, this one being Planet Terror.

Planet Terror tells of scientist Abby (Naveen Andrews) who releases a bio-chemical into the atmosphere when he is double-crossed by Lt. Muldoon (Bruce Willis), a marine with whom he has been supplying the same drug to, which has been used to keep at bay horrible mutations. The chemical infects almost everyone it comes across, turning them into bloated, pustule covered flesh eating zombie-things. A ragtag group of survivors, including mysterious El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), Go Go dancer amputee Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), sexy Doctor Dakota Block (Marley Shelton, doing her very best Barbara Crampton in From Beyond impression), tough guy police officer Hague (Michael Biehn), his brother J.T. (Jeff Fahey) and several others use any abilities they have to find a way to get away from the town, coming not just up against the zombies-things, but also the marines, and even worse, fighting amongst themselves! Will they make it to safety? Only time and a LOT of firepower will tell!!

There is no doubt this film is a fantastic piece of gore laden horror. The story is a pure eighties ‘bio-chemical weapon’ story, like The Return of the Living Dead, but with the visuals of a Lucio Fulci pic. The soundtrack is an interesting one, with Carpenter like synthy bits mixed with RR’s Mexican influence guitar pieces. From the opening scene, which is like a C-cup version of a Russ Meyer’s filmed Go-Go dance, this film has you entranced. Every line is pure Rodriguez in top form.

Rodriguez’s use of the ‘Grindhouse’ effect is interesting as well, the intensity of the artificial ‘print damage’ gets worse in more intense scenes, adding both to the tension of the scene, and also bringing back memories of watching old VHS tapes where the tape was stretched and distorted over excessively sexy or gory bits, from where previous viewers watched that bit over and over again or paused to have a good look at boobs or blood. Another highlight of the ‘Grindhouse’ effect is the so-called ‘missing reel’ which has a saucy sex scene jump to another scene that looks like it takes place a good ten minutes later, which makes the viewer feel like part of the ‘What happened?’ factor.

Of course, this film is probably best known for the iconic image of Rose McGowan, who is fantastic in this, with the machine gun prosthetic leg. She’s been in a lot of stuff, but that silhouette will remain a Hollywood icon for years.

When I first saw this film it sent me to a place that only 70s and 80s gore films send me to, so I suppose the experiment, for me, was a resounding success. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve enjoyed it.

Score: *****

Format: This film was reviewed on the American region free Bluray which contains an awful artifact-y 1.77:1 presentation that is covered in all sorts of hairs and cigarette burns: it jumps, has telecine wobble and the color drops out more than once… but it is supposed to be like that, so I guess it is perfect!! Like the picture, the sound is imperfect and is filled with little crackle-y bits, but it’s SUPPOSED to be like that! Presented in Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

Score: ****

Extras: As usual, Robert Rodriguez has a well-stacked pantry of extras on this Bluray.

Disc 1 opens with one if the ‘fake trailers’ that were to site inbetween the two films when packaged as Grindhouse. This fake trailer, Machete, of course has since become an action film in its own right, with a sequel!

The first extra is the ability To Watch the film in a “clean’ version that doesn’t have any of the scratches and stuff on the screen. Honestly I don’t know why you would watch the film like this.

Feature Commentary by Robert Rodriguez is as you would expect a commentary by Rodriguez. He is passionate about his work, and presents a detailed commentary on all aspects of the filming of Planet Terror (occasionally repeating himself from the extras).

The Audience Reaction Track is a feature length track that plays the audiences reaction during a showing of the film along with the actual soundtrack…. Like seeing the film ‘live’. Rodriguez did this with Sin City as well, and it is certainly a great way to watch a ‘Grindhouse’ movie. My favourite part is the audience’ s reaction to the appearance of Bruce Willis!

Disc 2

10 Minute Film School is one of Rodriguez’s usual extras, and shows how he did some of the effects for Planet Terror using both live action and cheap methods. This extra is a great tool if you are a tragic wanna be film director.

The Badass Babes of Planet Terror tells of the female casting choices of the film. There are interviews, and interesting anecdotes from Robert Rodriguez, Rose McGowan, Marley Shelton, the Crazy Babysitter Twins and Stacy Ferguson.

The Guys of Planet Terror tells of the male casting choice of the film. This has interviews and anecdotes with Rodriguez, Tarantino, McGowan, Shelton, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Naveen Andrews, Tom Savini, Michael Biehn and Jeff Fahey.

Casting Rebel is a short bit about the casting of Rodriguez’s son Rebel in a main role. Shelton, Brolin and Rodriguez all discuss his abilities.

Sickos, Bullets and Explosions: The Stunts of Planet Terror is all about the big bangs and multiple mayhem of Planet Terror. This is an interesting look at the stunts and features interviews with Stunt Supervisor Jeff Dashnaw, with additional comments from Rodriguez, McGowan, Shelton and F. Rodriguez.

The Friend, The Doctor and The Real Estate Agent is a pretty funny piece about the casting of Rodriguez’s friend Tommy Nix, his doctor, Dr. Felix Sabates and his realtor, Skip Reissig.

There is a trailer for the film, and a bunch of international posters for the film.

Score: *****

WISIA: I’ve watched this so many times I can practically recite it.


Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)

Zombruary 2 The Zombening continues….

One from the re watch pile…

Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)

Film: This film was a late love for me. I had never seen any of the 4 Blind Dead films until I actually won a box set collection of the UK release of the series several years ago, and I instantly fell in love with the films and director Armando De Ossorio’s directorial vision for them. This also led me to De Ossorio’s amazing film The Loreley’s Grasp, which is so wonderfully ridiculous that one can’t help but loving it.

This film, The Tombs of the Blind Dead aka La Noche Del Terror Ciego, tells of Betty (Lone Fleming) and Roger (César Burner) who, after a tantrum, are concerned for their mutual friend Virginia (María Elena Arpón) who bailed from the train ride they were on whilst in transit to a weekend getaway destination.

Virginia is found dead in a castle in the middle of nowhere and an investigation begins to find out what happened, but what has happened is that at this particular abandoned castle, is that undead Knights Templar, blinded whilst alive for crimes against god including sacrifice and blood-drinking, have risen from the grave to kill anyone who disturbs their unholy slumber… and now that their castle is full of people investigating Virginia’s death, they have plenty to feast upon!

The really cool thing about this release from Blue Underground is the fact that there is both the edited UK release of the film The Blind Dead and also the uncut Spanish version of La Noche Del Terror Ciego, which ads four whole chapters to the film and tells a different, raunchier story than the UK version. It is subtitled so be warned for those who don’t want to read a movie, if you want the boobies, you are going to have to work for them.

The film is paced really strangely, but it totally works! The whole story of Virginia leaving her friends and her eventual demise is a whole third of the film and sets it up beautifully for the roller coaster ride of the rest of it.

It’s really a heap of fun and I can’t express what a treat this film is, make sure you check it out.

Score: ****

Format: As I mentioned there are two versions of the film on this DVD from Blue Underground. The English dubbed one runs for about 83 minutes but the Spanish with subtitles version runs for 101 minutes. The film is presented in a 1.66:1 image with a mono audio track, and the Spanish version is certainly the superior image. If I were to score each individually, The English would be 2 and the Spanish would get a 3, so I’ll average the score for the disc between the two.

Score: **1/2

Extras: There is a few interesting extras on this disc.

Alternate opening: Revenge from Planet Ape which is an alternate beginning attempting to capitalise on the popularity of Planet of the Apes, and the somewhat simian appearance of the make up on the Templar Knights. The quality of this isn’t great but it’s an interesting watch.

Theatrical Trailer is just that. It’s a pretty awesome trailer though!

Poster and Still Gallery which has an amazing selection of posters, lobby cards, video covers and press books of the film intercut with the occasional still from the film.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I really like Tombs of the Blind Dead and it gets a regular revisit at my place. It’s not brilliant, but it’s both charming and hokey enough to warrant regular viewing.

House of the Dead 2 (2005)

Another day, more zombies for Zombruary!

One from the re watch pile…

House of the Dead 2 (2005)

Film: When it comes to video games, I am mainly a Call of Duty player, but being a horror fan, I have a grand affection for horror games too. One of the reasons I like CoD is due to the Zombies section of the game, but I like stuff like The Evil Within, and Resident Evil and even Sega’s House of the Dead.

Now this film, House of the Dead 2, was to be a sequel directed by dodgy director and film-reviewer puncher, Uwe Boll, but he was directing another video game property, Bloodrayne and couldn’t do it… or wasn’t asked. He was also responsible for the first House of the Dead, a cinematic travesty of the highest order, so maybe he WASN’T!

This is a new, fresh zombie movie, with an all new look at House of the Dead, where highly trained soldiers battle the undead in a gore-fest for all ages…well all ages over the age of 18 or accompanied by an adult anyway.

The tale of House of the Dead 2 goes like this: during a collegiate hazing, a young girl falls afoul of the villainous Professor Curien (Sid Haig), who is trying to bring the dead back to life, until one of his experiments escapes, causing a virus to be released on a campus, infecting the students.

Sig Haig is delighted by his friends choice of zombie costume.

29 days later, two experts in the field of zombie hunting, Alex (Emmanuelle Vaugier) and Ellis (Ed Quinn) accompany a crack team of soldiers onto the campus to collect blood from the source of the virus, the original zombie, so they can create a vaccine to protect the world against the spreading menace. Unfortunately, even though the Special Forces team is made up of experts in the field of war, a campus overrun by zombies isn’t their field, and things fall apart…

Let’s start off with one aspect of this film that was also a problem with the first one: where is the freaking house? The movie is called House of the Dead, the game on which this film is based featured a damned BIG house, so where is the house? The first film had a house whose exterior was so small it should have been called “Shed of the Dead’, and this one takes place on an ‘isolated college campus’ (who isolates a college, wouldn’t it be smarter to put it in a town so the local community would benefit from the kids as a part of their social and financial infrastructure?), so shouldn’t it be called ‘Isolated College Campus of the Dead’?

Continuity faults abound in this film, so much so that it becomes annoyingly ridiculous. Almost every character gets covered in a blood splatters which move around from shot to shot, and occasionally zombies that attack on one part of the canvas miraculously appear at other ends of the campus even though it took the protagonists a truck ride to get there. That is not just sloppy editing, it is plain out bad filmmaking.

The solders in this film are described as ‘Special Forces’, but i don’t think they mean ‘special’ as ‘better’ or ‘greater’ as these soldiers were such a bunch of badly organized clowns, they wouldn’t have even gotten a job at a school fete. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect a film about zombies to be ‘realistic’ or the situations to be ‘sensible’, but for Romero’s sake, I expect the soldiers to at least act like soldiers. I am no military expert, but these guys weren’t even following basic HUMAN instinct, let alone those of a highly trained soldier. Funnily enough, the first House of the Dead was criticized for having college kids acting like army trained professionals, and this one has army trained professional who act like college kids.

At some points the movie tries to be deadly serious, but the acting isn’t the greatest, so it comes off as forced, and some of the horror homage’s (Sid Haig refers to being left ‘Alone in the Dark’, and most of the action takes place ’29 Days Later’ after the prologue) are so obviously placed, that I kept expecting someone to elbow me and say ‘Geddit? Geddit?’. The zombie fan will find a hell of a lot of the set pieces in this film reminiscent of other zombie genre pics.

Another thing I found a bit dumb about this film is in the liner notes, which is a four page booklet…ok, it is a piece of glossy paper folded in half, writer/ producer Mark A. Altman hangs a bit of well deserved rubbish on the first movie (which HE wrote as well) and on the ‘teen horror’ genre as well, while praising this film, which he describes as ‘The Wrath of Khan of zombie movies’, when in actual fact, this isn’t even the ‘Spock’s Brain’ of zombie movies.

There is no doubt this film is better than the first House of the Dead, but that is like saying you like your Mum better than your Dad coz’ when she cuts you, she doesn’t make you roll in salt. There are some positives about this film though: nudity, some decent zombie make up, and Sid Haig…and that’s about it.

Score: **


This review was performed on an Australian Ex-rental DVD whose 1.77:1 image has a bit of artefact interference, but basically a good picture with a clear image…which is probably a bad thing. I wasn’t really impressed with the sound on this picture: it did utilize the 5.1 to some effect, but not wholly. It lacked atmosphere!

Score: **


There is a director’s commentary, which has input from director Mike Hurst and writer Mark A. Altman. They talk a lot about the genesis of this film, and how Altman wanted to make Starship Troopers on a college campus. It is also mentioned that this is a part of a trilogy, the final part being about the destruction of mankind…. please help us. I think that these gentlemen think they have a new ‘zombie trilogy’ on their hands. I pray for them that the legions of Romero fans don’t get their hands on their mobile numbers.

There are 4 deleted scenes titled Panty Raid 51, Football Practice, Library Scene and Exterior Dorm. These scenes neither add nor take anything away from the film, although it is disappointing to see that there was more sorority girl tom-foolery that was edited from the final cut.

Re-inventing the House: Making a Bloody Sequel is a basic making of with interviews with various cast and crew members.

There are trailers on this disc for Lion’s Gate Films’ House of the Dead 2, Alone in the Dark, Attack of the Sabretooth, The Triangle and Fierce People.

Score: ***

WISIA: Hell no, I’m NOT doing this ever again!

The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

One from the to watch pile and the next of 2018’s Zombruary celebration…

The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

Film: Possibly the thing I like the most about zombie films is that there is no real ‘traditional’ lore that has created a rule set so when you see something contrary to ‘tradition’ it seems out of place, or it puts you off. You know, a vampire film with the vampires walking in the day (especially if they are sparkling) or a werewolf who can change at will.

Creative license is obviously fine and occasionally can be put to good use for the sake of the story, but I am sure all of us who are horror fans just get a small twinge of ‘what the..?’ when we see one of these anomalies on screen.

Zombie films though don’t come under all that though as the mythologies are all different and most of us assume zombies to be a part of the rules laid down by George Romero’s Original Dead Trilogy, but films like Re-animator, Return of the Living Dead, the Dawn of the Dead remake and 28 Days Later shrug those rules and do their own thing, to varying degrees of success.

This film, based on the novel by Mike Carey and from a script by him, was directed by Colm McCarthy, director of Outcast and who has directed heaps of Tv including episodes of the aforementioned Black Mirror, Peaky Blinders and Doctor Who.

This synopsis may sound like Romero’s Day of the Dead and honestly, it does feel like that at the start, but where it ends up is completely different.

A group of children are being kept at a facility which is run by Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close) and controlled by Sgt Parks (Paddy Considine) and are being taught in a school where they are strapped into wheelchairs and moved around. The smartest and most intuitive of these children is Melanie (Sennia Nanua), the favourite student of Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton).

We very quickly find out though that these are not children, but instead subjects infected with a fungus that has turned them into flesh-eating monsters if they smell human skin. The humans who work at the facility use a cream on their skin which blocks their scent, preventing the children from ‘turning’.

Unfortunately the rest of the world has gone to pot with this infection and the creatures are everywhere, and when they manage to break into the facility, a small group, including the aforementioned bunch, manage to get away, but to where? How will they survive? Is there something even worse happening?

This cast…oh BOY, this cast are something special. Close and Considine are at the very tops of their game. Considine’s sergeant is a hard hitting bastard and Close is the no-nonsense Doctor and they are both powerhouses in their roles. Arterton’s character is wholly the heart and soul of the film and she plays it solidly. The real revelation in this film though is Nanua: she plays this delicate monster who doesn’t know what she is like an acting veteran. The whole movie had to be sold on her performance, and she sells it like an absolute professional.

I really like the make up on the zombies, or ‘the hungries’ and they are called in the film. The make up is reminiscent of the ones for Umberto Lenzi’s Incubo Sulla Città Contaminata aka Nightmare City but as this is a fungal infection that is causing the apocalypse, the hungries clothes have a real ‘overgrown’ look to them which is explored as the film goes on.

Typically, as I am a soundtrack collector, I noticed what an amazing hypnotic soundtrack this film has, composed by Cristobal Tapia De Veer, who also did an episode of Black Mirror and a few episodes of Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams Tv series’s.

The best thing about this film though is just how broad the story is. This isn’t just a zombie film, this isn’t just about survival, this isn’t just about tribalism and obsession. It’s about all of those things and it’s a cohesive brilliant piece of horror/ science fiction.

I absolutely loved this film and its shot right into my favourite films of all time list. Super recommended.

Score: *****

Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian Bluray release which runs for approximately 111 minutes and is presented in a perfect 2.00:1 image with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Score: *****

Extras: The only thing wrong with this film is the lack of extras. Bummer.

Score: 0

WISIA: There is so much width and depth to this film it’s going to be watched several more times over the next few months!

Zombieland (2009) Review

Welcome to Zombruary, our celebration of all things undead and unburied. Every review this month will in some way be related to a zombie or undead film. I hope you enjoy as we revisit some old ones, and find a few new ones to take off the To Watch Pile.

One from the re watch pile…

Zombieland (2009)

Film: I‘m not the biggest fan of horror comedies, and that’s mainly because there is an inconsistency in how good they are. For every Return of the Living Dead’s there are, there is 4 that go between being ok, and just sucking. Thankfully, on occasion, you will get gems like Shaun of the Dead, or A Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse or this film, Zombieland.

Zombieland is the tale of a phobia-driven young man (Jessie Eisenberg) who lives no longer in the United States of America, but instead in a world he likes to call Zombieland, a world overrun by the infected style of running zombie that purists seem to hate.

Our young hero has rules about surviving Zombieland, things like Rule Number 1: Cardio. Apparently the overweight were the first to die as they couldn’t escape the zombies. There are several others like Rule Number 7: Travel Light and Rule Number 31: Check the back seat. Basically his rules are the same ones we, the horror fans, shout at the screen whenever a young girl is left alone for any reason. I won’t go further into the other rules as it would spoil some terrible funny and funnily terrible scenes of carnage.

Anyway, on his way back to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, where he hopes to be reunited with his estranged parents, he meets another seemingly bonkers survivor (Woody Harrelson) and the pair join up for safeties sake. This man tells him that names are unnecessary in Zombieland as attachments can lead to fatalities, and they refer to each other by their destinations: Columbus, the young man and Tallahassee, the nut-job redneck with a love of guns and cars.

The two stop in a mini-market so that Tallahassee can soothe his unstoppable need for Hostess Twinkies, and after they dispatch a few zombies in creative ways, they meet up with two young ladies, the soon to be known as Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and the four decide to make their way to California together, and so after a gargantuan amount of personality clashes, and several con-jobs later, they all realise that being loners may not be the way to survive Zombieland.

This film is directed by first time feature director Ruben Fleischer, from a script by Rhett Reece and Paul Wernick that was originally devised as the pilot for a TV series, which apparently by its timeframe, it would have been the first zombie TV series. Interestingly, since the advent of streaming TV, apparently there has been discussions of it returning as a series, a sequel is also in discussions.

The cast in this film were excellent. Jessie Eisenberg, who I normally am no fan of as he occasionally feels like a discount Michael Cera (or vice versa), was perfect in this role. Woody Harrelson is a classic as always as a gun-toting crackpot who has no problem sharing a few tears, even if just for his interesting ways of sending off the zombies. Emma Stone never ceases to amaze me: I loved her in Superbad, and as the hyper-nerd in House Bunny she was probably the funniest thing, but here she really makes this role her own: a femme fatale who is spending the rest of her life defending her younger sister. She is the straight man to Eisenberg’s phobias and Harrelson’s nuttiness, and pulls it off with ease. She is also a cracking good sort!! Abigail Breslin, who was nominated for a best Supporting Actress Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine is excellent as well, and holds her own against the other three personalities which could easily have overpowered her.

The cameo by Bill Murray is a classic as well. Especially with the tips of the hat they provide to things like Caddyshack and Ghostbusters.

The special effects are mostly average, though occasionally the CGI is so good that you won’t even notice half of it unless you watch the ‘making of’ stuff. I was stunned by some of the scenes that weren’t on location. There is a couple of ‘zombies get hit by stuff’ bits that are showing their age though. One really cool thing is that even when one of the rules isn’t mentioned, but is acted upon, you will see the rule written somewhere slightly hidden in the scene, with a solidity usually only seen in a David Fincher title sequence.

All in all it’s a fun film, but there are other films of its type that are better. The win for this film is the cast work together really well and form a funny yet warm-hearted cohesive ad-hoc family unit.

Score: ***1/2

Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian Bluray, whose image nothing short of spectacular and presented in 2.40:1 widescreen and with plenty of gunshots and a touch of heavy metal, this English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 kick MASSIVE arse.

Score: *****

Extras: Heaps of extras on this set, and in the set. This was the first release of the film and it came in a cardboard outer box, and featured a Bluray, DVD and digital copy of the film.

Beyond the Graveyard: Picture in Picture Track is a great extra, with a smaller window opening up in the main screen showing how effects were done, or amusing anecdotes from cast and crew.

Commentary by actors Woody Harrelson and Jessie Eisenberg, Director Ruben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick is a great one as those involved regularly ask each other questions about their aspects of the creation of the film, which keeps the conversation running.

In Search of Zombieland looks at the making of the film, and explores all aspects of its production.

Zombieland Is Your Land is more or less similar in tone to In Search of Zombieland, but seems to have more behind the scenes footage. If it had have been me, I would have combined these two together to make one really tremendous making of documentary.

Deleted Scenes is a bunch of scenes removed from the movie. They are: Zip Lock Bags, This Did Not Just Happen, Mum and Dad Would have To Wait, The jokes on Them, The Slow and the Weak, Girls Play at the park and You Always Think Of Something. Usually when I see deleted scenes I am quite happy to have seen them removed from the film, but some of these, particularly Zip Lock bags and you Always think Of Something, could have happily remained, though the rule number of Zip Lock Bags would have had to have been changed from number 2, which ended up being Double Tap.

Visual Effect Regression Scenes looks at the technical break up of four special effects scenes of the film, specifically Washington, Seat Belts, Banjo Zombie and Falling Zombie.

Theatrical Promo Trailers are a series of trailers that features Woody Harrelson and Jessie Eisenberg’s characters giving hints and tips on how to survive the zombie apocalypse. These interstitials are titled Bounty Towels, Bowling Ball, Buddy System, Skillet and Swiss Army. Quite funny.

This disc also featured trailers for Bluray as a format, 2012, Year One, Zombieland and Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.

Score: *****

WISIA: Zombieland is almost as funny as Shaun of the Dead which for me is the gold standard of horror-comedy-zombie films but maybe has just a little more heart. I enjoyed every second of it, though I believe that Shaun has far more rewatch value than this.

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.