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.

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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.

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!

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.

ELVIRA stars in Call of Booby… I Mean DUTY!!

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Zombies Update

Elvira: more animated than normal!


I am an unabashed Call of Duty fan. I find myself losing hours and hours in it. Am I very good? Well I used to belong to a clan (Oz Rebel Misfits represent) and we did pretty good but on our team I was never an MVP. I just enjoy playing, though I rarely do the campaign and never do Zombies… but this year something different has happened.

They’re Coming for You, Barbara!


I don’t actually like the current CoD. I am sick of the scifi environment and am not a fan of the jumpsuits/ wallrunning no all that stuff as I think it takes away from the core of the game. When I heard that this year the new CoD was going to be WW2 I was absolutely stoked.

Dead End Drive In


So this year, more accurately, in the last month, I have taken to playing the Zombies section of the game. Now I imagine it must seem weird that a horror fan like myself would avoid this part of the game but I prefer the team no team stuff rather than this 4 against the zombies cooperative stuff, but this current zombies has a firm basis in genre film and I’m loving it.

Now in TECHNICOLOR!


This year has four intrepid heroes trapped in various film environments fighting zombies and other creatures (like Bigfoot) with a bit of help from various celebrities. The first episode, Zombies in Spaceland, is set in a theme park in the eighties with a guest appearance by David Hasselhoff, the second is Rave in the Redwoods featuring Kevin Smith and the other was a 70s themed one starring Pam Grier. Each episode is introduced with a cool little, old school styled animated recapping the last episode, and introducing the next!

you need big balls to invade the earth!


Yesterday a new update happened of PS4 and we have been treated to the 50s styled Attack of the Radioactive Thing, hosted by the one and only Elvira, Mistress of the Dark! It starts in black and white and slowly evolves into a washed out, b-movie styled colour and you spend your time opening areas, shooting zombies and aliens before meeting a gigantic thing that’s attacking a ship in the harbour.

That’s a big radioactive thing!


I haven’t finished the level, but it’s more fun that a barrel of undead monkeys: check it out!

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.

Dead 7 (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Dead 7 (2016)


Film: Imagine you live in a world where opportunities are given to ex boy-band singers to make horror/action films… Well, you DO live in that world! Here we have a horror/scifi/western called Dead 7 written by Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter, and directed by Danny Roew, responsible for 2013’s black comedy Shotgun Wedding. Who else but Syfy and The Asylum could get this together?

Though ‘The Asylum’ can occasionally be a gigantic red warning light…

The movie starts with a bit of a background story of what has happened to humanity. There has been an apocalypse of some kind, and mankind… Well, America… Had returned to a simpler lifestyle, similar to that of the Wild West, but an evil character by the name of Apocalypta (Debra Wilson) has created an army of zombies, or ‘copperheads’ as they are know here, so she can herd them into gated towns and then take them over… Yep, she has the power of the undead at her will and she’s using them for land grabbing.


The film is told in chapters, and we are introduced to the ‘Magnificent Dead 7′ one by one. They are Jack (Nick Carter), Billy (Jeff ’98 Degrees’ Timmons), Komodo (Erik-Michael ‘O-Town” Estrada), The Vaquero (Howie ‘Backstreet Boys’ Dorough), Whiskey Joe(Joey ‘*Nsync’ Fatone), Sirene (Lauren ‘married to a Backstreet Boy’ Kitt Carter), and Daisy-Jane (Carrie Keagan… Whom you will never forget!) Now this ‘Dead 7’ have been gathered together to fight the forces of Apocalypta and destroy her, but will they be able too… Will the power of this 7 be able to do it?

You’d better see it and find out.

Now I can’t continue this review without a mentioning a few other cast members: Chloe ‘daughter of Olivia Newton John’ Lattanzi, John ‘Just Another Day’ Secada and A.J. ‘Backstreet Boys’ McClean.

I was going to make an attempt to review this film by using nothing but lines from songs from the aforementioned boy bands, but after listening to three of them, I couldn’t go on with that idea, so I said ‘bye, bye, bye’ to it. 

I have to say I quite enjoyed this film. In no way did I ever expect that I would have fun with this pastiche of Mad Max, the Magnificent Seven and The Walking Dead, but somehow, it works… And I swear I wasn’t drunk when I did this review. At times the filmmaking itself did annoy me, especially with House of the Dead style exposition whenever a new character was introduced, but essentially it’s job was to move the story along, and make pop stars seem like adequate actors; so mission accomplished. 

The special effects are from two ends of the scale. The make up effects are actually pretty cool though zombie make ups seem to be a dime a dozen now, and can be executed at home with Halloween costume kits. The chopping off, and exploding if heads in general look pretty good, but as ever, the cgi blood sprays look really dumb, and there is a hanging intestine gag that just out and out sucks.

This is what unemployed ex-boy band members get up to in their spare time though I admit to being sadden you the absence of Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, surely there could have been a role for them!


So, it’s pretty good, for what it is, which is a zombie film that has come far too late in the zombie trend to ever be taken as too original, but it is fun enough for you to overlook that.

Score: ***

Format: The version of Dead 7 reviewed was the Australian DVD release presented in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, both of which are pretty good, though occasionally the faster moving panoramic shots pixelate a little.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Not a bad selection of extras on this disc:


Dead 7: Behind the Scenes looks at how the film came together.

Dead 7: A Look At The All-Star Pop Music Cast repeats some of the interviews from the previous extra, but it exists really just to highlight the members of various boy bands.

Dead 7: Gag Reel weren’t very long, but there were titty and fart jokes, so that’s a plus.

Dead 7: Trailer is the trailer for the film.

Thankfully, the ‘supergroup’ song ‘In The End’ threatened on the back cover isn’t something I had to endure except for over the end credits.

Score: ***


WISIA: You know, there was just enough zombies, violence and sexy gunslinging gals in this to warrant at least a second watch.

The Astro-Zombies (1968) review

One from the to watch pile…
The Astro Zombies (1968)


Film: I am an unabashed fan of films, and I don’t care if they a blockbusters or trashy trash, I just love cinema. I’ve seen films with a negative budget that have entertained me to no end, and sat down to multi-million dollar, star studded efforts that have bored me to the point of attempting to swallow my own tongue just to get out of the cinema. I’ve seen Academy Award (c) winners that sucked, and Razzie recipients that didn’t.

This is the amazing tapestry of life: opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one and most of them stink.

The reason I find films of all levels entertaining lie in two pieces of personal necessary criteria: story, and duration. The film has to have a good story, and the effects don’t matter because whether they are seamless CGI effects or rubber costumes, I can see the story that is being conveyed. If effects were such an issue, TV shows like the Thunderbirds wouldn’t have the longevity they do. The duration and efficiency in how that story is told is also a point of contention. One of my pet peeves is the current trend of overselling a great movie with a TV series remake… I’m looking directly at you, Scream. The first film was told with an economy that the TV series unnecessarily expands upon. The point here is not whether the show is good or not, because an item of entertainment can have great acting and direction but then not deliver its tale with any sense of timing delivery.


This film, The Astro Zombies, is by legendary independent film-maker Ted V. Mikels, whose skill in filmmaking I find interesting and frustrating. Interesting insomuch as I like the themes, and story of the films he makes, but frustrating as he breaks my second rule about the pace of a film. His direction is always here and there with me as well; occasionally I find scenes that are set with such an amazing eye for a quirky angle, and then in the next second, someone spends an entire dialogue scene with their face in the shadows, but the back of their head lit perfectly.

This film tells of Dr DeMarco (John Carradine) a former scientist from the Astro Space Laboratory, who has managed to created a murderous ‘Astro-man’ from parts stolen from various dead bodies procured by his deformed assistant, Franchot (William Bagdad). Even though performed in secret, the doctor’s work has still been brought to the attention of agents from various secret services from around the world, including the villainous spy Satana (Tura Satana) and the CIA’s chief Holman (Wendell Corey).

Holman amps up his investigation though when a young lab assistant is brutally killed by one of the Astro-men, and using the latest hi-tech equipment that the CIA has, they manage to pinpoint his secret location for a final deadly showdown.

Realistically, this movie could be summed up in one sentence: Dr Frankenstein vs The Man From Uncle, and even, in the credits, uses some of the fonts from TV shows like The Brady Bunch, and scene changes that kinda-sorta feel a bit Batman (the 60s TV show) in style.


The basic for the story is quite entertaining, though I am mystified as to how Umbrella managed to be stuck with an R rating. There is really nothing here that is SO offensive to require that. I almost wonder if they have just thrown on a rating from several years ago just to not have to pay to have it resubmitted, especially as seeing as how it is at such a low price in Australia (this copy was bought from JB Hifi in Sydney NSW at a just sub $7 price point). I don’t see how this could be under the same category as Cannibal Holocaust and Salo!

The real joy from this film comes from the appearance of iconic Russ Meyer star Tura Satana, chewing up every line she gets and showing her disdain for every man she comes across that doesn’t bow to her will, and John Carradine, a cinema legend who is known just as much for the absolute crap he ended up in as much as he is known for his quality cinema. The appearance of these two though, doesn’t mean the film is a must-see gem unfortunately.

I think perhaps Mikels at this stage in his career didn’t quite understand, or chose to ignore, and I mentioned this earlier, that cinema has a language where every single step of a procedure doesn’t need to be shown. At one point Carradine goes through this long winded process with a computer chip that brings the film down to almost a complete halt. I’m amazed I stayed awake!

The film is entertaining, though has several of these moments that bog it down. It’s hardly one I’d suggest to most of my film friends, but the trash fans will get up for it… And it’s got Tura Satana in it, surely that at least worth one watch!

Score: **

Format: This Australian region free DVD release from Umbrella Entertainment is presented in a very artefact-filled, telecine wobbling 1.77:1 image with a mono English soundtrack. It’s still watchable, but it is far from a perfect image.


Score: **

Extras: Not a sausage. Not a single thing. Zip. Zilch. I do have to compliment the awesome cover though, but it doesn’t get a score as an extra just for having that.

Score: N/A


WISIA: It’s far from a great film and honestly I found it at times somewhat of a trial, but the appearances of Tura Satana and John Carradine possibly could cause it to be spun more than once.

Zombi 3 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (1988) review

One from the re watch pile…
Zombi 3 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (1988)


Film: I have a very special place in my heart for the work of Lucio Fulci. Why? Because he’s freakin’ AWESOME! I was brought up on some of his films on VHS, specifically The Beyond and City of the Living Dead, and since the advent of DVD and Bluray, I’ve been able to expand my exposure to his work, and even though there are several missteps, and a lot of nutso stuff pumped out of his factory, I have a great affection for it all.

Ok, I’ve gotten the fanboy stuff out of the way, now for the ‘professional’ review, and I’ll point out that even though I like watching his films, I am well aware of the shortcomings of some of them. This film, known as both Zombi 3 and Zombi Flesh Eaters 2, is a real item of its time. It riffs on so many films, such as Return of the Living Dead and The Crazies, but doesn’t have the budget, or talent either in front of the cameras, or tragically behind them.


This film was written by Claudio Fragasso, though IMDB mentions Rossella Drudi who wrote Troll 2, and this is such a dog’s breakfast I see no reason why that wouldn’t be true, but her involvement isn’t the only reason for this film’s confusion. Fulci had a stroke during production, and the directorial reigns were handed to both Fragasso and second unit director Bruno Mattei, who dumped some of Fulci’s 70 minute cut, taking it to 50 minutes, and added 40 minutes of their own footage.

When a toxin is stolen from a research lab, it accidentally infects the thief. The toxic dies once airborne, but when transfer from human to human, via blood, or breath (hang on, isn’t that ‘airborne’?) or saliva, or other gooey, mucusy bits, it turns the infected into a violent, zombie-like crazy.

The original thief is found and his body destroyed by the army in a crematorium, but the doctor’s inform them that this was a stupid idea as the smoke could transfer the virus… You know, airborne (as fire cause it to mutate, obviously)… and infect even more people, or…um… Birds.


*sigh*

… And yes, birds and people are indeed infected and a zombie outbreak happens, as we follow a small group of holiday-makers and on-leave soldiers as they try to survive…

Ok, so there is so much wrong with this film. The cinematography is terrible at some points, one in particular is a car hood mounted camera looking into a windscreen that has a strong reflection on it, completely obscuring the occupant of the vehicle. Some of the dialogue is either completely crap, or ‘borrowed’ directly from Return of the Living Dead, also stolen from ROTLD is the way some of the music cues are presented: actually ROTLD is a source for a lot of the film. Especially fun is the acting… Well, the over-acting. The main Doctor character acts like he is in a Power Rangers outfit: you know what I mean, hands waving around, head wobbling and you know what a William Shatner impersonation sounds like? Well he talks like that!


In spite of, or maybe (probably) because of these reasons it’s actually entertaining. I mean, your mate who loves big budget, world destroying CGI fests is not going to find much here to enjoy, but you spaghetti-loving, Italian film fans are gonna roll their eyes in ecstasy.

Be warned: this isn’t a good film, it’s a fun roller coaster!

Score: **

Format: The film was reviewed as a part of 88 Films’ ‘The Italian Collection’. It is a region B Blu-ray Disc presented in 1.66:1 widescreen with a LPCM 2.0 track, both of which are pretty good.

Score: ****

Extras: Wonderful extras live in this two disc set. The first disc gives us alternate Italian opening and closing sequences, interviews with Dell’acqua (in a piece called Veteren of the Living Dead) MacColl (in a live Q & A with terrible sound), Ring (Zombie Reflections which is more a stills gallery with a voiceover about her career played over it, nothing wrong with that but again, the audio is substandard) and Fragasso, and a trailer reel featuring Children of the Corn, Don’t Go In The Woods, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man, Mother’s Day, Slaughterhouse, Trancers and Splatter University.


The second disc, called ‘Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered’ is a collection of interviews divided into three sections: Accomplices (his cohorts in the making of his films), Peers (other Italian directors of the period), and Victims (his actors and actresses). It is a nice collection of tributes and anecdotes of the man, and something Fulci fans will enjoy.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s dumb, but it’s fun, so yeah, even though it got a low score, I’d probably watch it again for kicks.

A Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)


Film: When a moronic, tryhard janitor accidentally starts the zombie apocalypse, only those skilled at survival even stand the slightest chance of getting by.

Thankfully, scouting offers one all the right tools and skills to make it!

Our tale follows the exploits of the only three members of scout troop 264: the keen and excitable Augie (Joey Morgan), motormouth Carter (Logan Miller) and nice guy Ben (Tye Sheridan) who after cutting short an overnight scout trip to go to a secret high school senior’s party find themselves in a town that empty except for zombies and a hot cocktail waitress named Denise (Sarah Dumont) who is as tough as nails, has the longest legs in the history of mankind and is a shotgun diva… Literally. 


The kids at the secret party, including Carter’s sister (and Ben’s secret crush) Kendall (Halston Sage) don’t know what has happened to the rest of the town, and our heroes find themselves with a time limit to save the partygoers when they discover the entire town is going to be bombed by the military to contain the ‘zombie problem’. 

So what do scout’s do when they face the zombie apocalypse? Why improvise, of course… Let’s just hope that zombiefied Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner) doesn’t catch up with them…

In general I am not a fan of the term ‘horror comedy’ as I don’t believe the two elements sit together at all because I want my horror to be, well, horrible: I want to be scared by it… And realistically, whenever we talk about ‘horror comedies’ we are referring more to either a comedy with monsters, or a gore-comedy. Films like Return of the Living Dead, Re-Animator and Shaun of the Dead nail both those descriptions perfectly, and I reckon I’d put this film in with those three comfortably, though it would certainly be the lesser of them, as whilst it appealed to my love of gory movies, it also tickled my less mature delight towards dumb, dick, tit and fart joke comedies.

Basically, if the Goonies grew up to be the kids from Superbad and had to fight Shaun of the Dead zombies in the town Monster Squad took place in, that contained a strip club that someone like Porky would own, this would be their story. 

Phew!


It’s not very often that a film can be both laugh out loud at the comedy one second, and cringe with empathy at an act of violence the next. The writers, Lona Williams, Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuki and director Christopher Landon (who also has a script credit) really nailed the balance well, and once it gets underway, the movie never stops for a breather. The four main actors nail their stereotypes perfectly, and parody them well too, but they are also well rounded characters, with back stories and histories that are touched on but never to the detriment or the movement of the story.

In the extras the crew regularly comment that they are trying to get that eighties teen sex comedy feel and that is done well, but the tributes to other horror are there also. The film takes Romero’s tropes of residual zombie memory and turns it on its head, and also nods to Dr Tongue from Day of the Dead (in a scene that echoes Reanimator’s head-giving-head scene, but with more tongue), and did I see a road sign showing how far away Haddonfield was?


I can’t finish this review without mentioning that the wonderful Cloris Leachman makes an appearance as a very cranky old cat lady and really steals the few scenes in which she appears.

Essentially, the sophomoric humour lover and gore hound in me really loved this film, and if you like films that don’t take themselves too seriously, you will probably get a kick out of this.

Score: ****

Format: The review copy of this film was the Australian bluray release, which runs for approximately 92 minutes, and is presented in an immaculate 2.39:1 image with a matching DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: A nice bunch of extras on this disc, and with titles reminiscent of my Cub Scout days…


Scout’s Guide to Filmmaking is you normal ‘making of’ mini-doc but the personalities of the filmmakers and the cast make it quite entertaining. Sure there’s the usual mutual-masturbation ‘oh he/she’s SO good’ stuff, but it doesn’t come across as fake, they actually seem genuine.

The Zombie Make-up FX Handbook is all about the practical and CGI zombie effects. I love these sorts of extras as I’ve always had an interest in make up effects.

Undead Movement Guidelines: Zombie Choreography takes a look at the work done by choreographer Mark Steger who taught the cast and extras how to ‘move’ like a ‘real’ zombie. His concepts of these zombies being quick because they are fresh, rather than the slow, disinterred old dead was interesting.

Uniforms and You: Costume Design shows us the skill of the costume designer Marylou Lim and the subtleties of some of the costuming, and how they individualised the zombies.

There’s only two Deleted Scenes: extended Scouting video and Pharmacy. They certainly aren’t missed in the film.

Score: ****

WISIA: A Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a gory and funny movie with a lot of personality so I can definitely see me watching it again.