Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Best Zombie Films of '08

So 2008 to say the least has been pretty lackluster on the zombie front. A lot of low budget schlock has made its way out of the undead ooze but unfortunately there hasn't been much that has stuck out.

Thankfully, there have been a few and well - I think they deserve some credit don't you?

Now these films aren't necessarily from 2008 per say but released in 2008 in the U.S. as that's where I live and most of my readers may live so it only makes sense - I will however put the correct release date next to a title if that happens to be the case.

Up first we have, THE ZOMBIE DIARIES. Originally released in the U.K. in 2006 - where they actually release films no longer than a year after they are made, go figure - this zombie opus premiered in the U.S. a mere month ago trailing behind George A. Romero's recent disaster; DIARY OF THE DEAD.

THE ZOMBIE DIARIES follows several groups of survivors as they record their plight during a zombie outbreak with video cameras with no set reason other than just to document what's going on. Unlike DIARY the film feels more like the recording of a real zombie outbreak, not a bunch on whiny college students reading cue cards off the screen. The zombies look awesome, the acting is really above average for a film with such a low budget and if there is any CGI it does not stick out as it painfully did in Romero's film. Thankfully someone out there did the P.O.V. style right with a zombie film and hopefully we'll see these guys in action again as the plans for a sequel are currently in talks.

Next came as quite a surprise to me as I wasn't expecting much from this but alas it showed me that the geeks and freaks from high school can be heroes too thus DANCE OF THE DEAD easily became one of my favorites of this year. Granted it's not a perfect film by any means - it's got some really stupid dialogue and the most ridiculous way to stop a zombie I've ever seen/heard but in all honesty - it all works.

The film tells the story of a group of misfits who have decided to skip their senior prom - or just don't have the option of going - for one reason or another and find out their home town is being invaded by flesh-eating zombies. Instead of spending 15 minutes running around trying to figure out just what these "things" are, the characters all know they are zombies and know how to stop them right off the bat and, oh yes there's more, know if you get bit - you'll turn into one of them!

Well slap my wrist and call me Shirley, someone made a zombie film where the characters have actually heard of zombies! Go figure! And it's not because of some previous outbreak, oh no, it's because zombies are a staple in pop-culture and people know what they are in real life so in a movie it just makes sense. I really had a lot of fun with this flick, it's a hoot and it has its tongue planted firmly on its rotten cheek. However that's not to say its not without its faults but what zombie film isn't?

Third also came as a surprise to me being it was a remake of what I still believe to be an already damn near perfect film but I'm allowed to be surprised and QUARANTINE did just that. As most people know, QUARANTINE is a remake of the Spanish zombie film [REC] which was only released last year and that left many horror fans scratching their heads wondering why they just didn't release that film as opposed to remaking it. After seeing both I can honestly say I still can't figure it out as QUARANTINE is literally a shot for shot remake but then again, it also added to the story and fixed some technical errors [REC] had - like rewinding the tape and playing the footage back wouldn't happen on a video camera unless you were watching it on a television, not a huge deal but still, fixed.

I can also see the problem the studio would have had trying to market a horror film in Spanish and even though there is an English version - that dub is beyond ridiculous and makes the film more funny than anything - so in some ways I can agree with them remaking it especially since they added more to the story.

The film follows a duo shooting a reality show that focuses on the men and women who work at night while the rest of us sleep safely in our beds. Tonight Angela and her camera man Scott are following around the Los Angeles fire department in hopes of getting something worth while of primetime. Unfortunately they get what they want but it doesn't come in a fiery blaze as expected, it comes when they are locked into an apartment building after a call to help an old woman turns deadly when she attacks the police at the scene and the firemen. Soon the group realizes that there is not only no escape, but an attempt to results in a bullet to the skull and now they are trapped with the building's tenants. The questions as to why they are forced to stay inside soon come clear when we find out what Grandma had is catching on with the neighbors and its spreading like wildfire.

It's hard to say this was any worse than [REC], which I insidentally dug a lot, because it's literally the exact same thing with nothing more than adding some bulk to the story and as I said fixing some technological errors. So with that being said, it's hard not to include this in the list because really - it's not much different from the already well made film.

Next is a low budget film that I had high expectations for and thankfully, it met and surpassed those expectations by a mile. ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS, a.k.a. LAST RITES OF THE DEAD is a welcome breath of fresh air, instead of the Romero-esque zombies, we get a rather rare breed of living dead; the ones who die and just get up as if nothing happened.

In the film we follow a young girl after she has been brutally murdered by her psycho ex-boyfriend, I think the relationship really came to an end when he put a bullet in her, and her new life as a walking corpse. She deals with many issues including finding a job as a zombie, the strange and new appetite for raw meat - there's a very subtle scene where she snacks on a pound of hamburger like one would eat a bag of potato chips - and extreme groups of folks who either want to kill all of the living dead or the living dead who have found solace in eating human flesh.

The film really takes on many tones incorporating racism as a political subtext, not to mention discrimination, and does it very well. If you're the type of zombie fan that's been looking for something different, this may be the one to check out. It's definitely worth the watch.

Last up we have DAYS OF DARKNESS. Okay so granted this one isn't great by any means, hell it's pretty boring and silly at times but damn it I really dug it. It was interesting to see characters that weren't stereotypes, meaning the gay character wasn't some sissy with a pink bow - he was actually someone who kicked some ass, and a rather different way to bring upon the zombie outbreak. Okay so it's not THAT different, the idea of aliens invading people's bodies and turning them into zombies has been around since the 50s but never have the aliens mutated or come flying out of woman's vagina's with tenticles and all kinds of sharp teeth have they? That's one to rival FATAL ATTRACTION for a reason to be afraid of women.

Anyways, the film follows a group of survivors holding up in an old military radio tower while a plague sweeps across the world turning people into flesh-eating zombies. This motley crew includes a young couple, the token black guy, the aformentioned gay character, a religious fanatic, a movie producer and her daughter, an actor, and a car salesman with his partner.

The film allows enough screen time to develop each character enough for you to at least give a shit as to whether or not they die and spends a bit more time than most zombie films do focusing on the characters dealing with the situation they've been thrusted into and trying to figure out a way to stop it. It features surprisingly good acting with a fair amount of witty and smart dialogue not to mention some really cool effects that don't feature the benefit of CGI.

That's all folks. There are a few other films I left off this list intentionally because as I said before, this list focuses on the films that were released in the U.S. ONLY. Films like [REC] and the Big Brother horror show DEAD SET have yet to see the light of day here in the U.S. but hopefully will get released over here soon. But until then, this is the best 2008 had to offer us for the zombie craze.

Here's the list for all you lazy bums!


Top 10 Favorite Zombie Films

So I figured I'd start this off typically, giving everyone a small does of what my tastes are like.

My Top 10 Favorite Zombie Films...thus far.

Fortunately - it takes a lot to please me when it comes to zombie films although I have been known to enjoy a film solely based on it being just flat out entertaining; the DAY OF THE DEAD remake comes to mind, pure garbage but it was fun!

So thankfully this list hasn't changed much over the last couple of years but in time; who knows? I could see the ultimate zombie film and it could just cut right in there in the top five. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING can replace my top two favorite zombie films. They have been my favorite zombie films since my obsession started and are what really sparked my interest in the genre.

Anyways - I'll cut the blabbering and get on to the list.

7. DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)
6. ZOMBIE (1979)
1. DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)

Honorable mentions;


I know I'm going to get all kinds of hell for not including the original DAWN OF THE DEAD and including the 2004 remake but don't worry, my explanation for that will come soon enough!

What's the point?

So, you've come here at this point because a) I asked/told you to, b) you heard about it from someone I asked or told to come here or c) Google is really on top of its game and you found this in a Google search. Or Yahoo/MSN - whichever is your preferred method of searching the net.

Either way I'm glad you've chosen to pay a visit to what I'm hoping is going to be one of the most extensive, informative and fun zombie blog on the net.

I've been a fan of zombies ever since I was a young'n. I'm talking like at 3 I was trying to take a bite out of my next door neighbor's kid hoping he would turn into a zombie with me - needless to say I was not allowed to play with many kids in the neighborhood. This trend continued throughout Elementary school until I was scorned by one of my teachers and had my parents shoving the fantasy from my head of the dead really coming back to life and thus ending my streek of biting my neighbors and classmates...that they know of.

Anyways, soon an unhealthy, sane questioning obsession became grounded and turned into a well explored and extensive hobby that I still study to this day.

I don't consider myself to be the end all be all of what a zombie expert should be, although I do like to think I'm close. Although I must point out I do not think there is such a thing as a zombie expert but most people tend to.

Zombies are works of fiction and in all actuality cannot be studied the way an animal or human being can be studied. Sure you can watch films and read books and most follow the same basic shambling, flesh-eating corpse formula - but there are those who sometimes think outside of the box. Those who make their zombies run, talk, think, climb on walls, drive down busy streets cursing at the driver ahead of them - case and point is; zombies are not real thus they can really do anything they want. Just like the vampire mythos that has evolved over the last two hundred years, because they are not real they are limitless.

Now let's not go off and say that I find that having a zombie crawl on walls or ceilings makes a whole lot of sense - since zombies are really nothing more than walking corpses they should really be limited to what a person can do, not turn superhuman. However, zombies have been known to come back for various reasons from voodoo curses to demonic posession. Whatever the reason and as long as there's something of a logic behind it, who am I - or anyone else for that matter - to say a zombie wouldn't Zipedee-do-da by you instead of crumbling towards you slower than a turtle with a ten pound weight on its back?

You get a lot of people that try to apply unessecary forms of logic to zombie films. Zombies themselves are illogical. A dead hunk of flesh getting up and walking around is fictional for a reason. Trying to say a zombie running makes no sense because its dead in itself makes no sense.

Anyways I'm rambling on here, I'll get more on my running zombies vs. walking zombies theory another day - I tend to get ahead of myself from time to time and if luck strikes I will catch myself and save it for a later day. Otherwise you'll get a blog that would print out to be over ten pages long.

So - my point with this whole blog. Well I've read many sites, blogs, etc. that seem to get too far from reality for my taste. comes to mind. Check out the forums there and find out how many of the members there wouldn't mind wasting any of their family members if they had to. Pretty scary.

I have my ideas, my theories and such on zombie outbreaks and the types of zombies that they're are. I think every die hard zombie fan out there does. I mean look at Max Brooks who not only wrote two books on the subject but is now getting one of his books turned into a film! I mean is that impressive or what?

I also have well over two hundred zombie films in my library, everything and anything to do with zombies I generally pick up. Even if it means spending the next ninety minutes of my life in utter agony, I'm a glutton for punishment. But thankfully for every bad zombie film I see, I either have one of my many favorites to return to or discover a diamond in the rough.

So with that being said, I am going to compile many reviews, ideas, and just random tidbits about whatever - as long as it has something to do with zombies. That is the whole point here after all.