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It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.

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Dead & Buried (Day 26)

26.) Dead & Buried (1981)

Plot: Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) is investigating a series of murders in the town of Potter's Bluff. So, why are these dead bodies coming back? Does Mortician (Jack Albertson, in his last performance) have something to do with it?

Review: Released by a major studio, written by Dan ("Alien", "Return of the Living Dead", "Total Recall") O'Bannon, and directed by Gary ("Raw Meat", "Poltergeist III") Sherman, "Dead & Buried" tanked in the box office, but faired better on VHS. In the 80's era of Slasher movies and Splatter flicks, it's really a lost classic.

The plot could best be described as Stephen King meets E.C. Comics with a bit of H.P. Lovecraft. The dead in the movie aren't shambling, rotting corpses, and that's what makes them so eerie and unnerving-they just seem so much like normal people. You wouldn't know hey are zombies if you saw or talked to them, but you would know that something about them isn't right. While hardly a gorefest, it still has some memorable moments, including an infamous hypodermic needle to the eye sequence.

Acting wise, Jack Albertson steals the show as Dobbs the mortician, adding a nice undercurrent of black humor, as well as a sense of pride and respect for his work-you can tell the actor is having the time of his life playing the villain for a change. The rest of the cast is great, with faces such as Melody ("Flash Gordon") Anderson and Robert Englund popping up.

"Dead & Buried" is one of my favorite 80's horror movies, and should be seen by anyone who says they love horror. Believe me, you won't regret it.

Rating: Either 9/10 One of the best Zombie movies you don't hear much about, "Dead & Buried" is an underrated gem.

Next on the Plate: Dawn Of The Mummy

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

A Virgin Among The Living Dead (Day 25)

25.) A Virgin Among The Living Dead (1973)

Plot: While at her dead relatives castle, a woman finds herself in a world of satanic rituals and the undead.

Review: I've reviewed a Jess Rollin movie, now it's time to look at one from his doppleganger so to speak, in Jess Franco. Granted, Franco's movies range from entertaining trash to unwatchable crap, but "A Virgin Among The Living Dead", while not unwatchable, feels a bit undercooked.

Sure, the requisite female nudity and lesbian content is there, as are creepy undead reminiscent of Carnival of Souls, and some great atmosphere. However, there are also far too many dull patches in the movie, as it almost feels like Franco was half assing the whole ordeal at times, taking interesting moments and essentially making you wonder "well, why isn't he doing anything here?" That out of the way, the score by Bruno Niccolai is great, an quite catchy at times.

The other problem though, and possibly the biggest flaw, is the disheartening thing about the whole movie, is the jumbled nature of it all. Like several of Franco's movies, it goes from Gothic Horror to Erotic Nonsense too frequently. sure, Horror and eroticism can go hand in hand, but when the creepy or erotic moments do occur, they feel like they don't gel (save for some lesbian blood drinking.)

"A Virgin Among The Living Dead", while far from Franco's worst (That would be either Oasis of the Zombies or Devil Hunter), has too many problems to recommend it, except as a curiosity. It may not be good, but you won't see many movies quite like it.

Rating: 5.5/10 Coulda been a contender really. Great Poster art though.

Next Up: Dead & Buried

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Horror Rises From The Tomb (Day 24)

24.) Horror Rises From The Tomb (1973)

Plot: A Medieval Warlock returns hundreds of years later to recieve the rest of his body (he was decapitated, you see) and kill anyone who get's in his way.

Review: The final Spanish Horror entry in this list, "Horror Rises From The Tomb" is also the second featuring the upiquitis Paul Naschy. Fortunately, this is a better movie than the jumbled mess Vengeance of the Zombies, and is a good, fitting end to the Spanish titles reviewed here, as it's a very entertaining entry in the world of weird but fun Euro-Trash flicks.

The plot is a bit confused, though fortunately, Naschy and co. manage to make the everything but the kitchen sink approach work this time, complete with gore (decapitations, hearts torn out in graphic detail, etc) nudity (this thing is a tit fest) and general weirdness (the site of a disembodied head giving orders is funny no matter how you try to spin it.)

The movie is also more interesting this time around, thanks to not overdoing it with exposition, and just letting things happen. It may be a bit confusing (a detailed plot synopsis of this is nearly impossible really), and the zombie aspect feels a little undercooked (really, do we need another movie with undead servents doing their master's bidding?), but it's still tons of fun, and a good introduction to those wanting to get into the movies of Paul Naschy.

"Horror Rises From The Tomb" and it's ilk are an acquired taste, but those wanting some nonsensical fun will be pleased.

Rating: 8/10 A fun slice of Trash Horror, though those hoping for a easy to follow plot will be dismayed. Otherwise, enjoy.

Tomorrow: A Virgin Among The Living Dead

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

The Grapes of Death (Day 23)

23.) The Grapes of Death (1978)

Plot: A woman finds herself trying to survive a French Countryside swarmed with the living dead.

Review: Prolific Exploitation autuer Jean Rollin's 1978 gem is actually his first in a trilogy of zombie movies: the others include the atrocious Zombie Lake and the surreal but good Living Dead Girl. However, "Grapes" is the best of the three movies, as well as the most coherent and conventional.

Fans hoping for graphic violence and bloodshed will be pleased with this movie. The eerie "just rotting" look of the zombies is effective, and we get plenty of nice gore, including a great bit involving a Pitchfork. There's also plenty of fog drenched atmosphere, and the requisite Rollin movie nudity, to make fans of horror happy. Especially effective is the way Rollin uses the desolate French countryside, creating a sense of menace and dread, which is accompanied by an excellent electronic score.

That out of the way, some will probably be turned off by the episodic feel of the movie, as scenes occur that may leave viewers confused. To me though,that's not a problem, as it adds to the nightmarish quality of the proceedings.

"The Grapes of Death" is both a classic Gallic horror movie and a classic zombie movie. See it if you want to get a gander at what Rollin was capable of.

Rating: 9/10 One of Jean Rollin's best movies, and a great, original zombie movie to boot.

Next Time: Horror Rises From the Tomb

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Dead Heist (Day 22)

22.) Dead Heist (2007)

Plot: A bank heist goes horribly arry when (what else) the dead come in for food.

Review: As far as recent Urban Zombie movies go, "Dead Heist" is better than Zombiez, but worse than Hood of the Living Dead and Gangs of the Dead. That's not saying much, especially when you consider the fact that "Hood" and "Gangs" are bad movies too.

The dead here are cut from the same cloth as the speedy zombies from the Dawn of The Dead remake and the infected from 28 Days Later and it's sequel, only generic instead of interesting or frightening. The gore is nothing new, though the fact that the dead can only be killed by being shot in the heart (and you're to blame...) is a poor attempt at trying something different.

As far as acting goes, Big Daddy Kane does the best job. He's not good, mind you, but he does the best job. Amusingly, while Bone Crusher and E-40 are advertised as staring in it, yet they aren't in the movie for very long-Bone Crusher appears in the beginning as a patron in a strip club so tame it could have passed for MTV's "The Grind", then disappears. Meanwhile, E-40 has less than 5 minutes of screen time as a porn director, and gives a "alright, where's my paycheck already" level performance. The rest of the cast ranges from a dead ringer for Vin Diesel to the white female cop, a white businessman thinking of joining the Nation of Islam (har har), and plenty of stereotypical gang banger characters.

While not the worst recent Urban horror movie, there's still nothing worth recommending here.

Rating: 2/10 I have no idea whether or not the fact that this reminded me of the "Attack of the Street Pimps" bit from Hollywood Shuffle is a good thing or a bad thing.

Next Up: The Grapes of Death

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Messiah of Evil (Day 21)

21.) Messiah of Evil (1973)

Plot: In the California town of Pointe Dune, Arletty Lang (Marianna Hill) is looking for her reclusive artist father (Royal Dano.) So, what's with the undead town's people? And who is the Messiah of Evil?

Review: Night of the Living Dead meets the works of H.P. Lovecraft in Will Hyuck's underrated cult classic. While you won't finds piles of gore here, you will find a creeping sense of dread and a nice little gothic horror tale made for about $80,000 or $100,000.

What works in the movie,as I mentioned already, is the sense of dread. You know there's something about the townspeople-they are flat, emotionless, pale, and bleeding from the eyes. When something does happen, it leaves an impression, especially in two setpieces: one in a supermarket, the other in a . The movie also gets away with some social commentary. The supermarket scene-the undead feasting upon uncooked meat-anticipates Romero's commentary on consumerism found in his masterpiece Dawn of the Dead. Also, like Let's Scare Jessica to Death, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, I Drink Your Blood, and Simon, King of the Witches, "Messiah of Evil" serves as a commentary of the hippie movement. Here, the dead seem to be not only a veiled commentary on consumerism gone mad, but also the fact that in the end, the hippie movement, no matter how it denied it, was a sense of conformity.

The movie does have it's flaws-poor acting, an annoying, warbly song-but the one flaw that hurts the movie some is the narration. We don't need a narrator to explain what's going on here people. Still, it's an underrated gem, and deserves a look.

Director Hyuck went on to write American Graffiti and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Then he did Howard the Duck, and his career never recovered.

Rating: 8.5/10 Yep, the Writer/Director of Howard the Duck did one of the most underrated zombie movies of the 70's. See it-it's not hard to find online, and it's public domain.

Next Time: Dead Heist

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Sugar Hill (Day 20)

20.) Sugar Hill (1974)

Plot: When the mob kills the boyfriend of Sugar Hll (Marki Bey), she turns to Mama Maitresse (Zara Cully) and Voodoo god Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley) for revenge.

Review: The only Blaxploitation movie to involve zombies other than Petey Wheatstraw, "Sugar Hill" and it's PG rating may mean that it isn't as graphic or fun as say, Petey, Dolemite, or Coffy, but it's still a lot of fun regardless.

For one thing, the movie, much like a Rudy Ray Moore movie, doesn't take itself too seriously, and has a lot of fun with genre conventions (the stereotypical white Southern villains for example), and also offers som fun one liners ("hope you like to eat white trash!") It also helps that the performances from Bey and Colley are a lot of fun-especially Colley, who hams it up with the best of them. The zombies themselves aren't flesh eaters, but instead gray, cobweb covered ex-slaves with machetes who do Sugar's bidding.

It might not be a classic, but "Sugar Hill" is a nice guilty pleasure that, while not standing up to the likes of Cotton Comes To Harlem, still offers some fun. Great theme song too. Shame it isn't on DVD yet.

Rating: 7.5/10 A fun cult nugget from the 70's that should please Blaxploitation fans.

Next Review: Messiah of Evil

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (Day 19)

19.) Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (1980)

Plot: Like you're watching this for a plot synopsis.

Review: Porn and Zombies? Yep, it's been done before: Porno Holocaust, Erotic Orgasm, Naked Lovers, and to a far lesser (and grosser) extent, Porn of the Dead are proof that some want to see flesh eating cadavers and people fucking in the same movie. Hey, whatever gets you off, I guess. Now, from the man who gave you the notorious Anthropophagous and it's sequel Absurd comes (pun intended) "Erotic Nights of the Living Dead."

First, how does it work as a porno? Well, there's a memorable sequence involving a woman, a wine bottle, and a cork. Other than that, this is rather tame. Sure, there's sex, but for the most part, it largely isn't that hardcore-George Eastman (who also wrote the movie) even keeps his pants on during sex. Also, the sex itself isn't really that erotic.

So, how about the zombies? Well, the good news is, they are great, and quite creepy. Nearing the end, the movie even builds upon some atmosphere, and the gore is pretty good (yes, we do see a guy getting his cock bitten off.) However, the scenes of the undead doing their thing (no, the zombies don't fuck) are often inter cut with sex scenes, which ends up being distracting as a whole. That ends up being a problem, as it becomes clear that director Joe D'amoto* doesn't know what kind of movie he wants to do.

In the end, it doesn't work that well as a porno, and as a zombie movie, it works better. However, the two just don't see eye to eye.

* Apart from Anthropophagus, D'amato also directed "Porno Holocaust" and "Erotic Orgasm. He's mostly known however, for directing the MST3K favorite Ator The Invincible.

Rating: 4/10 A missed opportunity to say the least. Who keeps their pants on during sex anyway?

Next Time: Sugar Hill.

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Let's Scare Jessica To Death (Day 18)

18.) Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971)

Plot: Jessica (Zohra Lampert) is let out of a mental ward, and moves into a country home with friends. So, what's with the strange drifer girl (Gretchen Corbett)? Or the vampire in the lake? Or the townspeople with those odd scars?

Review: The term "lost classic" gets thrown around a lot, especially in the horror genre. Hardcore fans such as yours truly love to mention movies like Vampyr, Horrors Of Malformed Men, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, and others as examples of why we should continue to dig for great but overlooked horror movies. One movie that gets thrown around by such fans is John Hancock's 1971 classic "Let's Scare Jessica To Death."

The movie itself is not a gorefest-bloodshed is quite limited within the movie-but what it lacks in disembowelments it makes up for in creeping dread and atmosphere. Throughout most of the movie, we are unsure what is real or what is a dream, as Jessica's paranoia reaches a fever pitch level, and the atmosphere clouds over the viewer, up to the conclusion. The dead in the movie are not rotting corpses bent on destruction, but are instead undead townspeople who you can't trust, bringing to mind the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Also, just like Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Messiah Of Evil, and I Drink Your Blood, "Jessica" serves and a condemnation of hippie culture-and may be the biggest middle finger-the biggest proverbial fuck you-to the culture, as it reveals many of the things that destroyed it, and it wasn't authority figures either: bickering, in fighting, egos, the looming sense of comformity, acid drenched delusions, paranoia, and more figure into the movie. The overriding message of the film seems to be that even without authority and police figures, the hippie movement was doomed to fail from the get go-only it would end up destroying itself instead of the other way around.

"Let's Scare Jessica To Death" is a great horror movie, and deserves it's cult reputation.

Rating: 9/10 One of the best horror movies from the 70's you haven't seen or heard of. Recommended.

Next Time: Erotic Nights of the Living Dead

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

The Dead Hate The Living! (Day 17)

17.) The Dead Hate The Living! (2000)

Plot: A band of would be filmmakers go to an abandoned hospital, and find a real dead body-which they use for the movie. It ends up opening a portal to hell-and unleashing some zombies.

Review: I make no apologies whatsoever when I say that I like the movie Scream. Sure, I may lose cred to some horror nerds, but I answer only to myself, thank you. I don't like though, what came after "Scream": A series of annoying, self aware horror movies that thought they were clever, but weren't. Case in point: "The Dead Hate The Living", released by the one interesting Full Moon Studios, is proof that a love for zombie movies does not make a good zombie movie.

The movie is full of references to other, better horror movies: Return of the Living Dead, The Beyond, Cannibal Ferox, to name a few-and while it's heart seems to be in the right place, it all comes off as fanboyish nonsense, which is essentially what it is. Not only that, it's bad fanboyish nonsense. The acting is non-existence, the references to Bruce Campbell and Fangoria are annoying, the soundtrack-filled with bad horror punk, psychobilly, and horrorcore rap-is grating, and the mugging for the camera hurts as well.

To be fair, the zombie and gore FX are decent, but they aren't enough to save this dreck from being any good.

Writer/Director David Parker would go on to write the notoriously bad House of the Dead (no, he's not happy with the way it turned out-can't say I blame him), and was originally attached to direct a Michael vs. Pinhead movie, though that movie never came to pass thank God. He also acted in the movie Free Enterprise, which is actually a pretty damn good comedy. Amazingly, when "Dead Hate The Living!" came out, some were praising Parker as one of horror's next big things, which shows how bad the shape of the genre was in at the time. After HOTD, his career never took off or fully recovered.

Rating: 2/10 Proof that while anyone can make a zombie movie, not everyone can make a good one.

Next Review: Let's Scare Jessica To Death

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Night of the Sorcerers (Day 16)

16.) Night of the Sorcerers (1973)

Plot: A team of researchers go to Africa end up running into Leopard Vampire Goddesses and their zombie minions.

Review: From the man who gave us the "Blind Dead" series comes "Night of the Sorcerers", a wonderfully tacky exploitation mini-masterpiece.

First things first: this movie will offend some people. The African natives are portrayed stereotypically (you expect somebody to say "where all the white women at?" at any point"), with grass skirts, masks, voodoo rituals, and kidnapping white women, among other things. Those sensitive to such things should avoid this.

Those who fully embrace exploitation movies though, may have a blast. Yes, it's gleefully politically incorrect, but it's an exploitation movie. What do you expect? While there may not be a huge amount of zombie action, the movie fulfills it's exploitation elements: whippings, rape, zombies, vampirism, orgiastic voodoo ceremonies, gory beheadings, a face melted by acid, gratuitous nudity, melodramatic overacting, a fun score, hot chicks in leopard skin bikinis-what's not to love?

"Night of the Sorcerers" is not for everyone, but those who love exploitation at it's cheesiest will be in heaven.

Rating: 8/10 A real blast for fans of Eurotrash cinema.

Come back tomorrow for: The Dead Hate The Living.

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Sole Survivor (Day 15)

15.) Sole Survivor (1983)

Plot: The only survivor of a plane crash finds herself being followed by the dead-to finish the job death planned for her.

Review: The plot may sound a lot like that of Final Destination, but that's where the similarities end. What we end up getting is an original, relatively gore free horror flick, and anunderrated zombie movie that owes more to Carnival of Souls than Zombi 2.

The most intriguing aspect of the movie is it's treatment of the zombies. These are not mindless, flesh eating hordes, or corpses brought back by a chemical leak or voodoo. These are a cruel parody of death, working for the reaper, and working with a serious purpose. They are quite creepy too, and bring forth an aura of serious dread and menace reminiscent of the dead found in underrated fare like Dead & Buried and Messiah of Evil. The acting is also strong, with Anita Skinner playing a convincing lead character.

Director Thom Eberhardt would go on to direct the more tongue and cheek apocalyptic zombie movie Night of the Comet, as well as Gross Anatomy and to a lesser extent, Captain Ron.

As it stands though, this is his best movie. It's now out on DVD thanks to Code Red (complete with linear notes by genre authority Stephen Thrower), and is worth your money. I recommend it.

Rating: 9/10 One of the best 80's horror movies you haven't seen, "Sole Survivor" is an underrated gem. Check it out.

Next Time: Night of the Sorcerers

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Swamp Of the Ravens (Day 14)

14.) Swamp Of The Ravens (1974)

Plot: Dr. Frosta preys on Beggars and Gypsies so he can continue his work on the dead. When his girlfriend leaves him, things get pretty bad.

Review: A Spanish/American co-production, "Swamp Of the Ravens" is a good example of a meat and potatoes exploitation movie: it might not meet all the requirements, but it still has enough to count some.

The movie itself isn't that much of a zombie movie, as the doctor's failed experiments float and hang around the swamp. It's really more of a Mad Scientist movie, with plenty of evil doings and little if any zombie action. Also, there aren't many ravens in this swamp-there's a lot of buzzards though.

Still, the movie has enough sleaze and weirdness to make it watchable. This includes a little gore (including real life autopsy footage), nudity (including necrophilia-not that graphic though), a score that sounds like outtakes from a Yes album, and a weird lounge act with a ventriloquist.They sure don't make 'em like this anymore.

"Swamp Of The Ravens" is a decent time waster: it might not meet all of your hopes, but it's watchable, and has it's moments nonetheless.

Rating: As a zombie movie, 2/10, but as an old school exploitation movie, it gets 6/10.

Tomorrow: Sole Survivor.

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

The Child (Day 13)

13.) The Child (1977)

Plot:A newly hired housekeepr must take care of a spoiled, troubled kid named Rosalie, who has telekinetic powers. She uses these powers to summon her friends-a group of malevolent zombies-to do her bidding.

Review: "The Child" is a flawed but watchable entity. Shot for about $30,000, the movie played in drive ins and Grindhouses as part of a double bill with Fredrick Friedels' odd Axe, and is something of a minor cult classic in some respects.

The movie has it's share of flaws: poor acting (Rosalie Cole is particularly annoying as the evil Rosalie), and the score (an overbearing mix of bad synth squalls and overwrought piano), as well as taking what feels like an eternity to get going.

When it does get going though, the movie picks up considerably. The onslaught of the undead, while not huge, is still great stuff, and the make up effects for the zombies is quite good and original, especially when you consider the budget. The movie eventually channels Night of the Living Dead with it's zombie seige conclusion, though it still works.

"The Child" is not a perfect movie, and doesn't exactly come with a recommendation, but it's a decent timewaster, and would make a great double bill with Bob Clark's Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things.

Rating: 6.5 "The Child" is a cult oddity that should please fans of mini-budget weirdness.

Next on the plate: The Swamp of the Ravens

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Junk (Day 12)

12.) Junk (2000)

Plot: A team of petty Jewel thieves find themselves fighting for their lives when the factory they are in turns out to be infested with zombies-including a hot naked chick.

Review: Take one part Tarantino knock off, one part Re-Animator, one part Return of the Living Dead 3, and three parts Italian zombie movie, and you get "Junk"- a derivative, unoriginal, but really fun zombie movie that plays like the best one Italy never made-only it's from Japan.

The movie borrows liberally from from a variety of movies (the ones mentioned above, as well as Day of the Dead, Bruno Mattei's so bad it's brilliant Hell of the Living Dead, and a few others), yet somehow, it ends up being a blast. The gore is great and plentiful (including quite an original scene where a zombie consumes it's own flesh), as the undead eat human flesh with relish, and people shoot, stab, electrocute, etc. them with gusto. Oh, and there's a hot naked zombie chick (well, she's naked most of the time-when she's not, she's in tight leather) with big tits whose also smarter, faster, and smarter than the other zombies in the movie.

While the movie is unoriginal and derivative, that fact is never distracting. What is distracting though, is the English speaking/American actors, who are so bad, it's painful. I'm talking bad local theater production levels bad. You'll cringe whenever they appear on screen.

Still, "Junk" is a blast of mindless cheesy fun, and is a perfect "pack of beer with friends" movie.

Rating: 7.5/10 Derivative nature and poor acting aside, "Junk" is still a a lot of fun, though it doesn't have much on the mind.

Next Time: The Child

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Zombie Holocaust (Day 11)

11.) Zombie Holocaust (1980)

Plot: Dr. Obrero * (Dan O' Brien) is experimenting on corpses on a remote Island. Well, an expedition team (which includes Zombi 2's Ian McCulloch) ends up on the island-and runs into the Docotor, who has some plans-as well as cannibals and zombies-in store for them.

Review: Titled "Dr Butcher M.D." when it came to video in the 80's, "Zombie Holocaust" is an interesting-and fun-blend of two different kinds of Italian Gore flicks: The Italian Zombie movie, and the Italian Cannibal movie-only without any of the animal torture and mutilation of the later.

The movie has some nice gore (surgical and otherwise-including an awesome motorboat engine to the head death) and nudity to liven things up, as well as a fun score and tons of camp. Also, unlike other Italian gore flicks of the time, the movie features a little intentional humor to go with it ("The patients screaming disturbed me, performed removal of vocal chords"-that line always gets me), which after the downbeat feeling of Fulci's zombie movies, is something of a breath of undead air. It's nice to see an Italian gore flick that doesn't take itself too seriously for a change.

If there is any problem, it's that the zombie aspect feels rather underplayed, as they aren't used for much. Sure, there's that aforementioned death by boat motor, but they don't do a whole lot to threaten the team, as the cannibals are more of a threat.

Still, "Zombie Holocaust" is a blast of exploitation that fans of over the top Italian Horror might enjoy. I know I did.

*In case you ever wondered where I got the old username Dr Obrero, now you know.

Rating: 3/10 as a zombie movie, but 8/10 as a fun exploitation movie. I recommend it.

Tomorrow: Junk

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Frozen Scream (Day 10)

10.) Frozen Scream (1981) *

Plot: Mad Scientists (including late minor cult movie icon Renee Harmon) discover a new technology that turns people into remote controlled/frozen zombies that kill.

Review: "Frozen Scream" isn't just a bad movie-it's a frustrating one at that. The premise (though campy) is at least original, yet it fails. Why?

Well for starters, the acting (save Harmon, who's icy, emotionless performance is sort of interesting) is dreadful. Harmon is clearly the only person in the movie with any acting experience, as everybody else obviously has little to no experience in the field. The only things that break the tedium are the loud (and weird) electronic score (half of the movies cues are from the notably awful backwoods slasher flick Don't Go In The Woods-which H. Kingsley Thurber also scored) and the (unconvincing) gore effects, both of which have a weird low budget charm.

The biggest problems though, are the inability to do anything with the interesting premise, and the general uneventfulness of the whole thing. The movie has a goofy but original premise, but it never realizes the potential that it has. Instead, people just babble on incessantly about immortality. It's a movie where you keep waiting for something-anything- to happen, and while a few things do happen (eyeball violence is always welcome), not enough does happen.

Still, it's at least better than the Shot On Camcorder zombie movies reviewed here, though that isn't saying much.

* The IMDB and a few other sources may say that the movie was made and released in 1975- but it actually came out in 1981.

Rating: 3/10 There's some minor pluses, but they are far too many minuses to make it good. Instead, "Frozen Scream" is a total bore.

Next Movie: Zombie Holocaust

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Das Komabrutale Duell (Day 9)

09.) Das Komabrutale Duell (1999)

Plot: A dude is killed, another guy wants revenge, and people kill each other, then return...over and over again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Review: I don't even know why I bother. As I mentioned in my review of Zombie Bloodbath, the 90's gave us a series of horrible shot on camcorder zombie movies. This wasn't just an American phenomenon, as this was also hugely popular in Germany, which has somehow become a haven for terrible microbudget splatterfests. This is no exception, and actually manages to be worse than Zombie Bloodbath. At least Zombie Bloodbath had something resembling a plot.

The whole thing literally feels like it was made by a bunch of teenagers with a severe case of Attention Deficit Disorder and a camcorder. There is literally no plot to speak of, and it's the cinematic equivalent of watching somebody play a dreadful "Mortal Kombat" rip off, only somehow worse.

Look, just because you and your friends own a camcorder and love horror does not mean you should be making horror movies yourselves. Oh, and Unearthed films: this did not need to be released on DVD stateside, ok?

Rating: -/10 Instead of explaining it, I'll let this video do the talking for me


Next Time: Frozen Scream

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

One Dark Night (Day 8)

08.) One Dark Night (1983)

Plot: A sorority initiation goes horribly wrong when the body of Russian Occultist Karl "Raymar" Rhamarevich returns-as do some corpses that he controls.

Review: "One Dark Night" is a movie that is so 80's, you're surprised those annoying "I Love The 80's" shows didn't tell bad jokes about it. It's got an 80's look, everyone dresses like it's the 80's, it has a fun cast (Meg Tilly! Elizabeth G. Daily! Adam West-yes, that Adam West), and a plot that could only come out of the 80's.

The movie does have it's share of flaws. Well for starters, the fact that Raymar can cause corpses to awaken, float, and do his general bidding via telekineses is original. Thing is, it ends up being floating corpse dolls/models "attacking" their victims. While it's hilarious at first, it loses it's charm the 3rd or 4th time around. Also, Raymar isn't that frightening or interesting, though the dated optical effects accompanying him are amusing.

That's not to say that it's a disaster. In fact, I ended up enjoying it some. The direction by Tom (Friday the 13th Part 6) McLoughlin is solid lively, and the dead themselves are appropriately drippy and gross. The acting is also pretty good (again, a really fun cast), and the final scare works pretty well.

"One Dark Night" is pure 80's cheese. It might not be perfect, but it's fun, and would make a great triple feature with The Dead Pit and the underrated Sole Survivor.

Rating: Either 6.5 or 7/10. A flawed but watchable piece of 80's fluff.


Tomorrow: Das Komabrutale Duell

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (Day 7)

07.) The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974)

Plot: Two hippies (ugh) are suspected of being behind a series of murders. Thing is, it's actually the living dead-brought back by chemical pesticides-who are responsible.

Review: After Night of the Living Dead, other filmmakers tried their hand at combining the living dead with social commentary. The first gory zombie movie from Italy to do so, "The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue" predates the likes of "Dawn of the Dead", as well as later Italian gore flicks.

While the hippie angle may turn some viewers off, the movie in itself is largely a success, mostly because it doesn't become too preachy with it's message, and remembers that it's a horror movie first and foremost. In case you were wondering, the movie have it's fare share of atmospheric and gory moments, including some creepy as hell walking dead, a wonderful sequence in the cemetery, a woman's breast being torn straight off, and more. Adding to it all is some strong acting, a nice score, and top notch directing.

"The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue" is considered one of the best European horror movies of all time, and for a good reason. Just be sure to get the new 2-disc DVD, as it's the definitive version.

Rating: 9/10 A classic zombie movie, and a must for those interested in seeing more of the sub-genre.


Next Time We Look At: One Dark Night

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Vengeance Of The Zombies (Day 6)

06.) Vengeance Of The Zombies (1973)

Plot: An Indian Mystic (played by Paul Naschy) uses black magic to bring hot topless chicks back from the dead to get payback on those who wronged him. Naschy also plays the mystic's brother, and Satan himself.

Review: Paul Naschy is the king of Spanish horror-not because of quality, but because he is a Lon Chaney jr./Boris Karloff like figure in how he was known for playing everything from Werewolves, Vampires, Demons-you name it.

The first of four Spanish tales of the undead to be reviewed this month, "Vengeance Of The Zombies" is a rather confusing-though quite campy affair. The movie throws in everything but the kitchen sink-the occult, Satan, topless babes, zombies, psychedelic imagery, and a wholly inappropriate Jazzy Lounge score more suited for Bachelor than a horror movie.

The movie, as you can guess, is hard to take seriously. However, as I also already mentioned, it's also rather confusing, as the kitchen sink approach ends up making you scratch your head at times, causing you to lose interest. Also, while the movie has plenty of camp appeal, it is hurt some by the occasional over reliance of exposition. A little exposition goes a long way, but too much is just annoying.

In the end, "Vengeance Of The Zombies" offers some sleazy delights, but ends up feeling like too much of a good thing, and ends up wearing out it's welcome. A better place to begin as far as Spanish Zombie movies are concerned would be Tombs Of The Blind Dead.

Rating: 5/10 I may be a big fan of exploitation and sleaze, but even though it had plenty of the right elements, "Vengeance Of The Zombies" left me feeling unfulfilled.

Next Time: The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

The Dead Pit (Day 5)

05.) The Dead Pit (1989)

Plot: Years ago, Dr. Gerald Swan (Jeremy Slate) discovered Dr. "Bad reference to a great director" Ramzi (Danny Gochnauer) performing horrible experiments on patients. Years later, a woman known only as Jane Doe (Cheryl Lawson, looking great in a nipple hugging baby-tee and panties) comes to the mental facility. However, Dr. Ramzi has returned from the dead-as has a horde of zombies.

Review: Released to video in 1989 (complete with an awesome VHS cover with light up eyes), "The Dead Pit" was one of the last notable independent zombie movies for a while (well, until people decided to stop using camcorders to make zombie movies, but hey), and was the first movie from Brett Leonard. It has since garnered something of a cult following, with some claiming that it's a lost classic, while others calling it one of the worst zombie movie ever made. To tell the truth, it's neither.

For one thing, the acting (with the exception of Slate and Gochnauer) ranges from over the top, to just forgettable. As hot as Lawson may be, she can't act to save her life, though she at least seems to be trying. While the movie is largely played straight, it's attempts at humor are poor at best, with Ramzi spouting dreadful one-liners that making him look like a D-Grade Freddy. Also, it takes an hour for the dead to get to business.

When the dead do rise however, the movie picks up considerably. While not the goriest zombie movie, we get some choice bits: brains are torn out and eaten with relish, brains receive acupuncture, a heart is torn out, a scalpel is shoved up a nurse's nose, and zombies melt into puddles of goo. Also, the dead can only be killed with Holy Water in this movie, which makes for an original twist. The score by Dan Wyman is a little dated, but fits the mood perfectly, and contains some genuinely unnerving moments.

"The Dead Pit" is worth a rental at least, though hardcore devotees to horror have seen better. If anything, it's a nice time waster, though for a movie that loves to show brains, it doesn't have much brains on it's own.

Brett Leonard would go on to direct The Lawnmower Man, Hideaway, Virtuosity, Man-Thing, and the underrated Feed. His latest is the new Highlander movie.

Rating: 6/10 It's like a bag of Twizzlers-not bad, but you won't remember it.

Tomorrow's Movie: Vengence of the Zombies

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Carnival of Souls (Day 4)

04.) Carnival of Souls (1962)

Plot: After a car accident, A woman finds herself in a strange carnival of the undead.

Review: One of the best pre Night of the Living Dead zombie movies (yes, the undead existed in movies before that-and they didn't eat human flesh either), "Carnival of Souls" is also a horror classic. Made for about $33,000, and released in drive in theaters with little fanfare, it has sense become heralded as a classic-and rightfully so.

The film itself feels like a nightmare meets a Twilight Zone episode, and the zombie make up isn't that great (again, made for $33,000), it nevertheless is a haunting gem, well acted throughout, and containing a killer climax to boot. In an interesting turn of events, the movie was more influenced by the likes of Bergman than the other drive in quickies of the time, which probably explains why it originally went ignored upon it's original relase.

If you want to see it, it's public domain, and easy to find. If you want to get it on DVD, get the Criterion Collection 2-Disc version, and while I love MST3K, avoid the version with Mike Nelson on commentary mocking it (seriously Mike, stick to ripping on bad movies.)

Verdict: 10/10 A horror classic that deserves to be seen by everyone-even those who normally don't watch horror.

Next Time: The Dead Pit.

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Zombie Bloodbath (Day 3)

03.) Zombie Bloodbath (1993)

Plot: Zombies rise from an nuclear power plant (built on top of an Indian Battle Ground-oh no!) and attack Kansas.

Before I get to reviewing this, it's time for a history lesson. You see, in the 80's, we started to see really (and I mean really) low budget horror. Granted, microbudget horror is nothing new. People were churning out cheap exploitation made for crackerjack money back in the 60's and 70's. The 80's though, gave us a new device: the camcorder. That's right,now anyone could do their own backyard effort. Also, it should be known that the 60's-70's microbudget directors at least had some sort of experience in the business of film and television. The folks with camcorders though, didn't. If there is any consolation, the 1982 shot-on-video "classic" Boardinghouse received a theatrical release in Grindhouse theaters, and is watchable in a what the fuck did I just watch way.

The 90's were a dark time to be a horror fan. Sure, Scream came out and gave horror another chance, but it unfortunately lead to a series of poor imitators and inferior sequels, giving the movie some unneeded (but predictable) scorn from angry virgins. The Silence of the Lambs won Oscars, but Hollywood didn't want to call it horror, when it clearly was. Oh, and while there were still zombie movies, they were few and far between. So, that lead to the greatest catastrophe to come to horror from the 90's to this millennium(I think they ended in 2002): the Shot on Camcorder zombie movie. These movies offered something studio horror didn't offer: full on hardcore gore, sexual content, nudity, and zombie mayhem. Sadly, they were done by people with no experience whatsoever in the field of film making, which meant that they were all horrible in every conceivable level, and not in a so bad it's good way. I mean in a so bad it's bad way. Imagine watching somebody's home videos/home movies for about 80-90 minutes. There you go.

Now, on to our

Review: This is actually the first in trilogy of films from "filmmaker" Todd Sheets, who admits his movies are unwatchable. Instead of reviewing it, here's what you have in store:

Horrible mullets. Terrible, rubbery gore A man named Sam (modeled after Sam Kinison) doing a speech about his dead goldfish Butthead. The worse handlebar mustache every committed to anything. Horrible attempts at exposition. No real plot to speak of. Terrible music. Bad gore and make up effects. Terrible attempts at gags. The fact that, just like in every other Shot on Camcorder zombie movie, nobody involved had any previous acting experience. I think you get the point. I've already suffered through it. Don't let it happen to you.

Rating: 0/10. You'd have more fun watching a home video of a colostomy than watching this. Avoid at all costs.

Tomorrow: Carnival of Souls.

Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

 

Resident Evil:Extinction (Day 2)

02.) Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

Plot: The third entry in the "Resident Evil" movie franchise sees Alice (Milla Jovovich) and a band of survivors from the previous (horrible) movie (including Oded Fehr and Mike "Where's Ice Cube?" Epps) and some new faces (Ali Larter as Claire Redfield and Ashanti-yes, that Ashanti) in a world reduced to a desert by the T-Virus. There's still plenty of undead, and the Umbrella Corperation want Alice-as she's the original. See, there's these clones-oh come on, you aren't watching this for plot.

Review: Not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, the third entry in the series is actually the best of the series so far. Sure, it's far from original-cribbing elements from Day of the Dead (1985) (domesticating the dead) and The Mad Max movies (post apocalyptic desert landscape), but it at least has some decent points to go with the mindless action.

For starters, there is thankfully more undead action this time around, with sun baked zombies at nearly every corner. Also absent this time is dreadful Nu-Metal, and that's always a plus. The acting is at least competant, and the movie itself is the most competantly directed entry in the series, managing to make sure you don't get bored for the large part. Also, if you don't like Ashanti, you'll be glad to know her role is small (as is her time in the movie).

That out of the way, the fact that Alice has powers and superhuman abilities (from the last movie, which I like to pretend didn't happen) is really dumb. That reminds me, you really don't care about anybody in this movie, as there is no character development whatsoever throughout. People appaear and disappear, and those who die are people you really didn't see much of anyways. The ending also leaves room for yet another sequal, and really, do we need another one. Ok, it made about $150 Million worldwide, so it's inevetible. That out of the way,t he series needs to end, as we can't keep getting sequal after sequal. It's tiresome.

Still, it's a decent Saturday afternoon flick, and if you don't think too hard while watching it, you might sorta enjoy it.

Final Verdict: 6/10. Dumb popcorn entertainment not at it's best, but hardly at it's worst, and is at least the best "Resident evil" movie so far. Check it out if nothing else is on.

Next time: Zombie Bloodbath


Gary Floyd

Gary Floyd

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