zombies


B-Movie Night: “Zombies! Thousands of them!”

In the run up to the launch of Northern Gorehouse, and then for the week until Halloween, I’ve watched a few zombie films. I shuffled over 70 of them to the top of my rental list at Cinema Paradiso (my chosen, and recommended replacement for Lovefilm). Obviously, I ddn’t get through all of them, but maybe I’ll keep adding undead reviews to this post as they arrive.

Zombie Creeping Flesh (AKA Hell of the Living Dead, in the print used for this disc)

Something called the Hope Project is working to solve the problems of overpopulation and food shortages. Of course, they’re doing this by creating a eugenics gas that will be used to kill off the world’s poor. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work, and has unforeseen side effects (can you guess what they are?)

After a couple of establishing scenes- a gas leak at the Hope plant, involving a cool zombie rat moment, and a hostage situation at the US consulate in an unnamed country- we get into the action proper. Four special forces operatives, previously seen gunning down the hostage takers, are in Papua, New Guinea on a secret mission. Pretty soon, they stumble upon a reporter, her cameraman, and their unfortunate guides. The guides have brought their seven year old son along, and he’s been attacked by a “crazed native”, and will soon die. Cue the soldiers’ first encounter with zombies, and an undead toddler who was genuinely creepy.

After this, the group stumbles around the jungle, meeting zombies everywhere and, each time, forgetting the lesson they’ve learnt about shooting them in the head. The best sequence is when they come upon a native village. The reporter says she spent nearly a year with local tribes, and knows how to gain their trust, promptly stripping off and daubing on body paint. The villagers are carrying out funeral rituals for their dead, who have all succumbed to a mysterious disease in the last few days. When the corpses come back to life, the soldiers and their passengers take off and abandon them.

One by one, the group are picked off by the undead, the soldiers proving too highly strung and incompetent to save themselves, let alone the rest of the world. They find the chemical plant and…. do nothing. The epilogue shows us how the gas has carried to the rest of the world and the true zombie apocalypse has begun.

This Italian production was one of the ‘video nasties’ banned in the UK in the early eighties. It certainly has the gore effects to merit that, all appropriately gruesome, backed up by stock footage for scene setting. It wanders from one bloody set piece to the next, lacking a coherent plot, But, be honest, it’s the blood that the story’s all about.

Not a classic of the genre, but a fun time capsule of blood and entrails.

Zombie Undead

Low-to-no budget efforts such as this should be applauded for seeing the project through to the end. However, a participation medal is all I’m willing to give out to this uninspired film.

The tautologically twisted title hints at the lack of invention inside. A dirty bomb has gone off in a British city, and a bunch of survivors are trapped in a provincial hospital filled with undead and with only one way out. They go nowhere for most of the film. Stilted acting struggles with a clumsy script, shot with little thought to production design and no obvious colour correction or grading to pump up the flat imagery.

Gore effects are good, and the mini movie in the closing titles is better than the rest of the film put together. So there’s hope. Best of luck to the team behind this, and I hope they come up with a more original idea next time, do a few more drafts of the script, and take the time to frame better shots.

Zombi Holocaust

Very few zombies in this one, despite the title. The ones who do show up are more brain damaged slaves than shambling undead. This is actually a cannibal film.

After a bunch of cannibal attacks across the US, a team of anthropologists is sent to the place the protagonists all came from. This place is the mysterious island of Kito in the not-at-all-insultingly-named Mullato chain. Along the way, they drop in on a famous surgeon who’s dropped out to do missionary service in the islands. Following his directions to the wrong island, they end up on Kito nonetheless.

Soon enough, their guides are being picked off and eaten by the natives. Whittled down to a final two, they eventually find out why one of this film’s alternate titles was Doctor Butcher M.D. (Medical Deviant).

The gore effects are mostly well done, there’s some gratuitous nudity, and the evil doctor gets his deserved comeuppance. But the storytelling is disjointed, the way so many Italian horrors of the era could be, and the racism inherent in the sub-genre.

Bonus material on the disc included a documentary about the short-lived cannibal genre, which produced few great works of art, but was well represented on the video nasties list.

Zombie Virus On Mulberry Street

Another case of false advertising, because it’s actually a were-rat virus. As the infection takes hold across Manhattan, the occupants of an apartment block on teh eponymous street fight to survive.

It’s another low budget effort, but not as low as Zombie Undead, and definitely more better scripted and directed. It also helps that it takes place in the Big Apple, rather than some non-descript English market town.

Rec

Similar in many ways to Mulberry Street, this Spanish horror is even more tightly paced and chilling. Its creatures are closer to the traditional zombie as well.

A two person film crew from a local television station is shooting a night in the life of a fire station. Responding to a call in an apartment block, they’re soon out of their depth as an unknown infection turns the occupants into flesh eating monsters.

With its found footage technique of viewing everything through the news cameraman’s lens, and the characters trapped in the block for most of the film, it’s more effectively claustrophobic than Mulberry Street. In that one, at least they got to pop to the bar next door. There aren’t many occupants in the block, but the confined space means that each one that changes increases the threat level immensely.

Vampire Apocalypse

This one sneaked in as a last gasp from Lovefilm. A low budget vampire romantic dark comedy, it stars Jason Mewes, who’s initially unrecognisable without the long hair he sports as Jay in all those Kevin Smith films. He plays Jack, a lovelorn paramedic trapped on the night shift with his arse (well, ass, as this is a US/Canadian productio- but I can’t bring myself to say ass) obsessed co-driver and only friend.

When Jack meets Danica, she’s covered in blood down a dodgy alley near his home. Trying to help her out, and clean her up, he falls in love almost immediately. Things are going great, until he comes home to find she has taken a big chunk out of his ex-girlfriend’s neck.

Desperate to sate his vampire girlfriend’s thirst, Jack initially helps her feast on the local drug dealers and hide their bodies. But things soon get out of his control.

Not a masterpiece, but I’d definitely call this a little known gem. The Apocalypse part of the name is a bit off, and it seems the original name was Bitten, which is more appropriate.

Zombie Hunters

This one hits the new low, taking the prize away from Zombie Undead. On top of the poor script, direction and acting, there’s also some really bad CGI as well.

In the future, everyone lives on walled cities, spending all their time in virtual reality. Five wannabe real-life hunters break out, intent on bagging a deer. Unfortunately, the place they’ve chosen is just over the hill from a secret military research establishment which has just created, and leaked, a magical wound healer that also raises the dead. Cue boring, tension-free, useless zombie killing.

Undead

Another little gem, this one is full of inventively gory Aussie humour. After meteor chunks and/or aliens- it’s kept nicely ambiguous, right to the end- land in an outback town, people start turning into white eyed walking corpses. A slowly dwindling bunch of survivors tries to fight their way out of the town. I won’t try to break down the action for you, but recommend going off and watch it yourself.


Zombies Versus Vampires, part 1 1

Now available as Northern Gorehouse!

The black tower was a stake driven into the heart of the city. Overbearing and ugly, it loomed over the pale sandstone and red brick of the lower rise buildings cowering under it.

Terry knew the story- a version of it, anyway. The development had been proposed by a pair of footballers, looking to invest in property for lucrative retirements. But post-Brexit decline meant all the floors remained unsold, and the sportsmen wanted out of the project. Mysterious partners and backers- Russians, everyone agreed- stepped in to buy out the famous faces and finish the buildings themselves.

No-one got into the tower. No-one that anyone knew, anyway. It was a mystery. A slab of darkness looking down on the city centre. There were shops at ground level, then two storeys of offices, but, above those, the dark windows swallowed sunlight during the day, and never lit up at night. So it was surprising- and thrilling and frightening- that Glenn said he could get in.

Terry wavered between being wary of Glenn, and being in awe of him. The older man- only a few years, but it seemed to count for so much- gave the impression he had decided to be Terry’s protector. It didn’t feel like the other times men had taken an interest in him, Glenn didn’t look at him the way they had. And he wouldn’t let anyone else. There were plenty of predators around Tent Town, prowling for a piece of fresh meat who looked as young as Terry did. But Glenn wouldn’t allow them the chance. So far, he hadn’t asked anything in return. Perhaps he was truly a good person.

They were in an alley behind the towers, where the goods for the ground floor shops were delivered. In front of them was a heavy door, clad in pale grey metal, and with a large shiny handle and security grade brass lock. To the right were the roller shutters protecting the windows of one of the shops. Left of the door was a galvanised fence, to keep them from falling into the bottom of the ramp that ran down to another large roller shutter. This lower shutter blocked the entrance to the tower’s exclusive underground parking.

Glenn put his hand on the door handle and turned to grin at Terry. “Wait’ll you see inside here! It’s mad.” He pressed down on the handle and pushed at the door.

The door didn’t open. Glenn’s confident smile faltered, until they heard a click, and the door opened.

It was dark on the other side of the threshold. Much darker than under the bright security light outside. Terry waited on the threshold, unsure, until Glenn grasped his cuff and pulled him in. The tug was more violent than Terry had come to expect from his protector. He was too shocked to pull back, though, and quickly found himself inside.

The door closed with an ominous thud. Terry flinched at the sound, then again as a light in the ceiling turned on. The glow was only around them, the rest of the space wasn’t illuminated yet. The darkness was thick, and the detail revealed by lamplight fell off quickly. Terry could see the door, the wall either side of it, and a short way along the narrow corridor. There was no handle on this side of the door, just a vertical pull bar from top to bottom of it, and a brushed steel number pad on the wall.

Glenn was his smiling, reassuring self again, the flashes of impatience and anger gone. He beckoned Terry to follow him. As he strode into the dark, another light came on above him, revealing more of the corridor.

The floor was marble, Terry thought, looking down at the blood red veins marking the shiny off-white surface. A stone stuck in the tread of Glenn’s boots clicked against the floor with each step.

The space wasn’t very large, but it was lavish. The marble of the floor extended halfway up the walls, where a narrow gilt band separated it from the dark wood of the upper half and the ceiling. The lights were set in the cornice at the top of the wall on alternate sides, and activated by movement. The sections behind went dark as they left them. When the fourth set of lights turned on, they were at the far end of the hall, standing before the polished brass of an elevator’s door.

Glenn pressed a button on the wall and, with a ping, the door opened. He stepped in, beckoning Terry after him. “Come on. Come on. He’s expecting us.” Terry worried about what that meant, but stepped in anyway.

The floor and lower wall of the elevator was the same sort of marble as the hallway. There was a wide band of pleated and padded red leather at waist height, and flat brass above that. The metal gave the appearance of having been polished to a gleam, then brushed with a stiffer metal to take the shine off and distort the reflections until they were matt shadows.

Terry stroked, then pressed, the leather, and found it surprisingly soft and supple. He looked to Glenn for some explanation of what came next.

There was a polished panel of buttons set in the brass. As the door closed, Glenn pressed the top one.

The box rose up its shaft rapidly. Terry felt the acceleration in the soles of his feet and the pit of his empty stomach. Glenn had promised him food if he came along, but had said nothing about someone waiting for them. Terry knew, now, that he should have questioned Glenn more. The hunger was stronger than the worry, though, so he leant back against the soft leather and waited to reach the top floor.

Suddenly feeling light, Terry knew the lift had halted. How high up were they, he wondered, as the door opened. He couldn’t remember how many floors the tower had, but he knew they were above anywhere else in the city when he looked across the wide space that had been revealed, and took in the view through the dark tinted windows. “Penthouse suite.” Glenn told him.

Terry walked toward the windows, drawn by the view. The floor was the same marble again, but he couldn’t make out many other details. The room was dark, lit only by small lights in the ceiling. Reaching the window, Terry touched fingertips to the glass, finding it warmer than he expected, and looked down at the Town Hall. A long way down.

The lights that illuminated the Gothic façade of the Town Hall were muted, made a strange grey by whatever coated the floor to ceiling window. This must be the tint that kept the building dark, no matter what time of day it was.

“Life in the sky, mate. Innit brilliant. We can have this view as long as you keep him happy. He does like pretty boys like you, he said.”

Terry didn’t turn round to look at Glenn. He just had to look up to see the reflection in the glass. Glenn was about halfway across the floor, under one of the lights, the lower half of his face shadowed, so Terry couldn’t properly see his grin. The top half of his face, however, showed greed. Terry was going to fight his expression back to passivity before he turned. He wouldn’t show Glenn his disappointment. The older man wasn’t his friend, but his pimp.

“Lap of luxury, am I right? You’ll let him do what he wants, and we’ll be set.” Glenn wasn’t asking. He expected Terry’s compliance.

Focussing on his own reflection in the glass, Terry forced the down turned edges of his mouth flat. This was just another betrayal in a lifetime of betrayals. He was angry at himself for having thought Glenn wouldn’t let him down.

“He should be here soon. I mean, he said he’d….” Glenn’s words were cut short, and he made a sucking sound, then a strange, pained whistling.

Still, Terry couldn’t bring himself to turn. He shifted his gaze to Glenn’s reflection, and fought down a cry. Glenn’s head was tilted to the left, an expression of wide eyed surprise on his face. The skin down the right side of his neck was torn open in a jagged U, from which blood flowed profusely.

The more powerful spurts leapt out into the air, then disappeared. They were going into a red rimmed hole, which might have been in the shape of a mouth, ringed with sharp, even serrations that could be teeth. Two of the teeth, at the top of the circle, were longer than the others.

Glenn managed to move, finally. His right hand reached into a pocket, and drew out a knife. The blade flipped open with an instinctive move of his thumb, then came up and back. Most of the determination drained away, however, before the knife reached the top of its arc. It struck something, slid to the side, then dropped from Glenn’s hand. There may have been the hint of a line of blood, raised by the blade, hanging in the air.

The bloody mouth closed, then opened in a grimace to let out a little sound of disgust. Glenn collapsed, a soft bag of flesh and loosely connected bones.

“Do let me see you, little one. Are you as pretty as he promised?” the floating lips of blood said.

There was something about the voice that could not be ignored. Terry turned slowly. What he saw made him take a frightened step back, until he was pressed against the glass.

Standing over Glenn’s body was a woman. She was tall and slim, with long, jet black hair, wearing a tight sheath dress, split on the left to reveal a shapely thigh, and with wide sleeves that hung down from her arms like limp wings. She reached down, and tore a strip from Glenn’s shirt, using it to wipe the blood from around her mouth. Running it across her forehead, she dabbed up the blood from the wound that Glenn had inflicted. The skin under the thin red line had already closed. Done with the rag, she dropped it so that it draped itself over Glenn’s face.

“You are lovely. Yes, you are. He was a horrible little man, and he tasted foul, but at least he was honest about that.” The woman took a step toward Terry. She was beautiful, even in the unforgiving light directly above her. Terry felt himself relaxing, when he was sure he should be running. His limbs weren’t under his control, it seemed.

Just as Terry felt happy to succumb to this stunning woman, her expression changed. She was hungry, looking at him like a delicious meal. Somehow, without lines appearing on the perfect, pale skin of her face, she appeared ancient. Centuries showed themselves for the briefest of moments.

Terry could do nothing as the woman drew right up to him. His head tilted to the left, exposing his neck to her. “You will taste so much better than your friend. And I will not tear at this perfect skin, no. No. And you can take a taste in return. You shall be so much more than just one meal.”

The teeth entered Terry’s neck so gently he didn’t know his skin had been penetrated. An ecstasy he had never before felt flowed out from the wounds and filled his body.

Then it all went black.

Get Northern Gorehouse from Amazon.


B-Movie Night: Cockneys Vs Zombies

Eventually, everyone will get to take on zombies. As a bonus, this film gives you OAPs versus zombies as well.

A pair of bumbling brothers want to carry out a bank job to get enough money to save their grandfather’s old folks home from demolition. They rope in their multi-talented cousin, a bumbling crook and a psycho Gulf War veteran with a metal plate in his head

Despite a haul of £2million, things soon go horribly wrong, thanks partly to the psycho vet, but mostly because the building site next to the OAP home has unearthed a plague pit full of zombies. As the dead shamble through the East End, the gang take a couple of hostages and head off to rescue their granddad. The old chap and several of his chums- including Richard Briers in one of his last performances- are doing a good job of protecting themselves. Luckily for them, zombies don’t move much faster than a man with a zimmer frame.

This is a fun addition to the zomcom subgenre. It uses Cockney cliches to comic effect- particularly the convoluted explanations for rhyming slang given by one of the old codgers- without overplaying them. There are some suitably gory zombie takedowns- the “mouth zombie” and undead baby being particularly funny. There’s even an appearance by a Routemaster double decker, Boris Johnson’s favourite type of bus. Digital effects allow for London as a burning wasteland and some neat zombie bisections.

There’s a short section about halfway in- when the gang are holed up after the bank job and zombie outbreak- where the film loses its momentum for a while, but it gets back up to speed when they set off on their rescue mission. Apart from that, the film’s fun and funny, with occasional laugh out loud moments and some enjoyable action. Providing you’re not looking for anything too deep (or truly gory), then this is an enjoyable little film. Buy Cockneys Vs Zombies from Amazon.


Zombie Barbie

Sadly Ebay won’t let me easily embed the image on here, you’ll have to click through to see it in all its glory. You have one day to buy this unique bust.

Zombie Barbie Bust

“Retro 80’s doll rises from the dead”

This resin bust was inspired by the “Walking Dead – Bicycle Girl Zombie” and has been sculpted, cast in resin and handpainted by myself.

The bust features some amazing detail including – Dead Kens head – with exposed brains, Barbies broken arm and hand, a Severed Barbie doll foot, exposed ribs, torn off jaw, skeletal backbone, torn and wrinkled flesh, Barbie hair, flocked base with swamp effect grass, dirt and sticks.

This is a truly amazing piece and features an outstanding paintjob, including zombie toned flesh, veins and blood splats etc.

Unfortunately the pictures do not do this piece justice as they show up very red for some reason, and also the gloss wet look varnish has a bit too much shine on camera.

This will make a great addition to any Horror Collection and I will only be making a limited number – and this is #1

“This thing is Gross, Get it off the kitchen table” – My girlfriend

“Awesome mate” – Chris from work

“I want one” – Everyone who has seen it so far!!


May is Zombie Awareness Month

    Why Not October?

Despite common misconceptions, zombies – and the threat they represent – are not connected with the late October pagan tradition of Halloween. Witches, ghouls and vampires, all Halloween staples, are otherworldly creatures of old, filled with mysticism and superstition.

Zombies, on the other hand, are biological entities, made of flesh and blood, and functioning under the same laws of science and reason that all worldly beings must.

I’m off to buy axes and chainsaws.

Zombie Awareness Month


Trailer Time 1

The Expendables. Ooooooooh. This looks interesting. Quite a mix of actors there- action stars old and new, wrestlers, Mickey Rourke……

The A-Team

There are plans for a Captain America movie to be made in the next year or two. This isn’t it.

Ip Man. This one’s actually from 2008, but I like a good martial arts epic. I’ve included a link to buy the DVD.

Micmacs.

Knight & Day. I’m conflicted. The trailer looks good, and suggests Cruise isn’t taking himself too seriously. But it’s still a film with Tom Cruise in it.

George A Romero’s Survival of the Dead. Ah, zombies.

Splice. I’d say it could be the new Species, but I’ve never seen Species, so what do I know.


We need a bigger television

A quick review of recent video game purchases in casa Spinneyhead.

Midnight Club: Los Angeles

Drive around a detailed Los Angeles, challenging other drivers to races and winning or buying cars and upgrades.

Good Mayhem, just like in Midnight Club 3. The customising is still fun, though I haven’t yet found a car with the option of a roof chop.

Bad There don’t seem to be as many hidden jumps as in MC3, such as over the aircraft carrier in San Diego or the huge one which gave you 20 to 30 seconds of air time as you flew over several city blocks. Also it doesn’t seem to have a direction, or perhaps I just haven’t challenged enough of the right drivers.

Also available for the Playstation 3.

Burnout: Paradise

Another entry in the Burnout franchise. In Paradise you have a city to explore, the same as in Midnight Club. Rather than challenging other drivers as you find them you can join races at most junctions. There’s a variety of events- racing, survival, point scoring stunt runs and the lunacy of Takedowns. I haven’t found any crash events yet. It would be a shame if one of the best parts of earlier iterations was missing from this one. There are also barriers to be broken down, billboards to smash and top jumps to make, so the fun rarely lets up.

Good Chaos, takedowns and so many things to break.

Bad Possibly no crash events. I write off my car too often (okay, that might be me). Navigation in races can be a pain.

Also available for the Playstation 3.

Dead Rising

This has a lot of promise and I enjoy some features. But certain idiosyncracies make it infuriating. Perhaps if I’d played more survival horror games I wouldn’t have so many problems with it. You play a photojournalist trapped in the biggest scoop of your career- a shopping mall full of zombies. All you have to do is be at the helipad when your three days are up. Along the way you can figure out what has happened, or just kill lots of zombies.

Good Almost anything you can pick up can be a weapon, apart from food which replenishes your lives. My favourites so far are the lawn mower and the hockey stick. The latter saw off nearly a hundred zombies I’d cornered in a narrow hallway.

Bad The controls. Specifically for the radio I’m supposed to use to get missions sent to me. I can never seem to answer it and usually end up dropping weapons instead. Aiming and firing guns is clumsy, making them possibly the least useful weapons.

Also available for the Wii, coming out next year. Maybe the Wiimote will make shooting easier. It should definitely make waving things around more entertaining.

All of these games would benefit from a bigger television to play them on. The racing games are so detailed that you can get overloaded and drive into a wall. Blowing them up would probably help that. Dead Rising has tiny text that I can’t read for the mission briefings, often leaving me with little clue what’s going on. A bigger screen would solve that as well.


Horrified B-Movie actors and other fun figure sets

There is no scale specified for these Horrified B-Movie Actors figures, which is a shame. With heights of 6.4cm to 7.6cm I’d guess at 1:20-something. You might be able to mix them up with model cars for a diorama- a 1950s Chevy, battered ’40s Ford and a creeping blob maybe. Or you coiuld replace the blob with glow in the dark zombies. Or, if the screamers are Creationists, the Evolving Darwin set.

Other sets include the Paparazzi and the Office Monkeys.

via BoingBoing

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It’s a Lego zombie apocalypse!

BrickCon 2008, a Seattle get together of Lego fans, had one large display dedicated to the coming zombie apocalypse.

See the whole set on Flickr.

via io9


Trailer time- oriental oddness edition

There haven’t been any trailers worth highlighting for a few weeks, but just today I’ve seen nearly a dozen. Rather than one big trailer time post on Sunday I think I’ll spread them over a few days.

A selection of movies from the orient first.

A Tale of Legendary Libido.

Tokyo Gore Police. By the people behind Machine Girl, who seem to be keeping Japan’s fake blood industry afloat all by themselves.

Wushu, starring Sammo Hung.

Shaolin Girl, a spin off from Shaolin Soccer.

Onechanbara. Bikini girls versus the undead.