Greetings and welcome to a new section entitled BUDD OF THE DEAD!! This is a place where I (Sarah Budd) will be posting a variety of film, TV, book and Horror Event reviews done in my own frightful way. My major obsession is Zombies so expect a fair amount of the undead but I intend to throw a few monsters, hauntings and a shed load of gore in for good measure! I do hope you will join me.
WALKER STALKER CON - LONDON 4th/5th March 2017
The Olympia Exhibition Centre in London played host for the second year running to the only UK convention of one of the greatest TV shows ever… The Walking Dead. Such is the popularity of this show that it has spawned its own convention dedicated to the show and all things zombie, namely Walker Stalker Con 2017. Boasting a larger cast list then last time it was set out mostly the same as last year (report here) which I was pleased about as I was concerned they had moved the panel area to a more enclosed location but they kept it out in the open for easy access.
As well as Norman Reedus, Ross Marquand, Chandler Riggs, Greg Nicotero, Charlie Adlard and David Morrissey who attended last year. We also saw Scott Wilson (Herschel Greene), Tom Payne (Jesus), Lennie James (Morgan), Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene/Rhee), Austin Amelio (Dwight), Steven Ogg (Simon) and Irone Singleton (T-Dog) to name but a few. The main pull for most of us though was to catch a glimpse of the most talked about cast members in recent times; Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) and Jeffery Dean Morgan (Negan). Andrew Lincoln was only there on the Saturday this year. He only did the Sunday last year which I was gutted about as I missed him, but this year I finally managed to see him! He was the only cast member that didn’t have an autograph booth, but I’m figuring he was crazy busy doing photo ops. He did do a panel which you had to pay extra for to get in but they did have large screens either side of the stage and because it was quite open you could see him without actually going into the panel area so we could see and hear everything that was going on. It was great! He is a funny, happy, out going person who was pleased to answer the silly questions as well as the serious ones. He talked a lot about the emotions he went through shooting the scenes from “The Day Will Come When You Wont Be” which saw the deaths of 2 loved characters and left Rick a broken man for a time. He was also joined on stage by Chandler Riggs who plays Carl Grimes and it was great to see the way they interacted with each other. There did seem to be less panels going on this year but I think I picked the best day for panels, as not only was it Andrew Lincolns day but we also had a panel from Scott Wilson and David Morrissey together talking about their time and experiences on the show as Hershel and The Governor. There was also a brilliant and informative panel from Greg Nicotero (Producer, Director and SPFX artist on the show) who once again made my day. His panels are always so much fun and he buzzes with enthusiasm its hard not to get excited when you see him. This year we were treated to truly amazing viewing of videos from his own personal phone of Andrew Lincoln trying out Lucille on Greg and then JDM having a go as well!!
Something I would never have seen had I not been there so felt very privileged. He also talked about the process involved with creating a fan favourite of the current season, Winslow, the gladiator type zombie from the episode “New Best Friends”. This year I even managed to pluck up the courage to ask him a question; I wanted to know what his thoughts were on the social media outcry about the violence used on “The Day Will Come When You Wont Be” and since then had noticed that it seems to have toned down a little, was this intentional and when will the violence return? I got a really awesome response if a little long winded but the main gist of it was a resounding “no” he does not listen to or read anything on social media, so he says, so couldn’t give a fuck if people are offended and yes we will soon be getting back into the violence we are all used to on the show very soon. Since Walker Stalker Con we have now seen what he means by this in the recent episode “Bury Me Here” which brought some harrowing scenes to the forefront. A great man that I could happily listen to for hours. That was about it for the panels, I was a little disappointed that I missed JDM’s panel which was on the Sunday.
There was a rumour going round on various Walker Stalker FB groups that they were trying to stage a mass “kneel” when JDM turned up which would’ve been great but that never happened. Might have been something to do with the fact that we didn’t see JDM at his booth until late into the afternoon on the Saturday, I’m guessing he too had a lot of photo ops that day or he was just being fashionably late?! His booth was next to Norman Reedus’ so once he’d turned up we got to see quite a lot of them posing together which was every fan girls dream, its hard to describe just how hot they both are in the flesh!! I was pleasantly surprised at how close we could get to them this year as last time you couldn’t get anywhere near Normans booth, this time it seemed much more relaxed. When we were sat in the panel for Hershel and the Gov, Norman Reedus walked round the back of the panel to get to his photo op session, which totally took us by surprise and left us wishing we had sat further back in the panel as he was shaking hands and taking selfies on the way through! They really had managed to squeeze in a lot more guests this year as they added a whole new row of booths along the mezzanine. As well as all the cast members from TWD there was also Freddie Highmore and Nestor Carbonell from Bates Motel, M.R.Carey author of The Girl With All The Gifts, Eugene Clark aka: Big Daddy from Land Of The Dead (again!) and the great Denis O’Hare who I adore in all his forms in the American Horror Story series.
Article by Sarah Budd
Photos Courtesy of Sarah Budd
BUDD OF THE DEAD'S TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2016
2016 was indeed, despite all the doom and gloom, a good year for horror movies so in keeping with the trend and peoples love of lists here are my top ten movies. Unfortunately my list is rather light on zombie films as ashamedly I have not yet seen the most critically acclaimed ones such as TRAIN TO BUSAN, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, SUMMER CAMP or NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE this will be rectified soon but alas will not be on my list. Had I seen any of these I expect my list would be slightly different but there is no doubt in my mind that my number one would stay the same. So without further ado:-
10. PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES (Burr Steers)
The long awaited film adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, rewritten and zombified by Seth Grahame-Smith, the Bennet sisters now strive to find suitable husband material with the added inconvenience of a zombie plague. I liked the book but thought it was a little light on zombies so hoped the film would be a bit more lively which it was. Matt Smith as Parson Collins was hilarious and yes maybe the CGI was a little OTT at times but I really liked the zombies especially at the end. Don’t expect this features on many top tens but I enjoyed it.
9. THE BOY (William Brent Bell)
A well to do English couple hire an American au pair to look after a doll effigy of their son. Great atmosphere, chilling and creepy with a grand performance from Lauren Cohan. This film takes a dramatic turn of events towards the end from what you would expect.
8. ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES (Dominik Harti)
A group of snowboarders in the Alps have to battle a horde of zombies when a chemical used in the production of artificial snow infects the locals. A fantastic nod to the great 80’s zombie movies, brilliant special effects, hilarious kills and zombies. Extremely good fun.
7. GREEN ROOM (Jeremy Saulnier)
A Punk Rock band score a gig run by Neo Nazis and after witnessing a murder are held prisoner. Great soundtrack, violent visuals and awesome performances from Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart.
6. BLAIR WITCH (Adam Wingard)
Heathers brother, James, is sent a video that shows his sister may still be alive after disappearing 17years earlier in the Black Hills Forest, so he and some friends go back there to find her. I love the way Wingard incorporates the same sounds and feel from the The Blair Witch Project and brings it more up to date in technology with the use of Blue Tooth technology and drones. Shame the over hype did put people off it but I really enjoyed it.
5. BASKIN (Can Evrenol)
Turkish Horror/Fantasy movie about 5 policemen answering a supposed distress call from colleagues in a feared part of the country known to be filled with Black Magic and satanic rituals. A great movie rammed with disturbing visuals, revolting creatures and gore a plenty. A little confusing at times but has a few interesting twists.
4. THE WITCH (Robert Eggers)
A family in 1630’s New England battle against witchcraft and ancient forces. A real slow burn but so haunting and effective. A great story with amazing dialect and acting from all involved including the animals.
3. SOUTHBOUND (Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvarth, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Chad Villella, Tyler Gillett and Justin Martinez)
A horror anthology with seem less links to each other. Devilish creatures and dark secrets all contribute to a really great film that will leave you feeling quite uneasy. The stories are not typical to these types of anthologies that fall into making their stories all very similar but have loads of different things going on that tie in together. Not a huge budget movie at all its gore effects are great, some of the ghostly figures can be a little odd but the acting is also very good.
2. IN THE DEEP (a.k.a. 47 Meters Down) (Johannes Roberts)
Two sisters on holiday in Mexico go out on a shonky boat ride and go shark watching in an ancient shark cage with, funnily enough, disastrous consequences. This movie has claustrophobia and suspense by the bucket load. You will be on the edge of your seat, sweating profusely throughout! Great acting and the sharks are brilliant.
1. DON'T BREATHE (Fede Alvarez)
Three down and outs break into a blind Vietnam veterans house to steal his fortune but end up trapped and hunted by the man they thought was weak and easy to steal from. By far the best movie I saw in 2016. A great twist in the plot with masses of action, suspense and great characters. Not just my favourite movie of the year but probably one of the best (non zombie) movies I’ve seen for years.
Also want to do a quick mention of some of the other enjoyable movies that didn’t quite make it on my top ten: - ZOOMBIES (Glen Miller) and 2LAVA 2LANTULA (Nick Simon) for pure entertaining stupidity. 31 (Rob Zombie), DEAD RISING: ENDGAME, (Pat Williams), THE CONJURING 2 (James Wan) and THE SHALLOWS (Jaume Collet-Serra) all good movies but didn’t quite make it. Also big love for Adrian Tofei’s found footage stalk-a-thon BE MY CAT: A FILM FOR ANNE which is definitely my favourite indie low budget movie by far.
Movies I wish I’d never watched would be THE NEON DEMON (Nicholas Winding Refn); I just did not get it. I also had no interest in the subject matter and found the whole thing way too pretentious, arty and just plain boring I’m afraid. The other being DARK COVE (Rob Willey) for kind of similar reasons, apart from the pretentious nature, as they wouldn’t know what that means, for the shear fact that fuck all happens for 50 minutes!!!!! I’m sure there were more but unfortunately these two stick in my mind as a complete waste of my time.
I am eagerly awaiting the new Chris Sun creature feature BOAR and, of course, SKY SHARKS by Marc Fehse to name a few. I hear rumours of another DAY OF THE DEAD rehash, sorry remake, which I am dubious about. Either way I am sure 2017 will leave a blood trail of fabulous new horror for our delectation!
FILMS I HAVE REVIEWED
2047 - VIRTUAL REALITY (a.k.a. Virtual Revolution) (2016)
A HAUNTING IN CAWDOR (2015)
ZOMBIE LAKE (a.k.a. Le Lac Des Morts Vivants) (1981)
DARKEST DAY (2015)
HERE ALONE (2016)
THE TRIBE ** U.S.A. (2016) Director: Roxy Shih 97 mins
ELDER ISLAND *** U.S.A. (2016) Director: Darrin James 81 mins
Evil Dead 2) and Timothy Patrick Quill (Blacksmith in Army Of Darkness) who play the parts of Lucas Heidegger and Sheriff John Ree respectively. My favourite quote being from Sheriff Ree after a visit to see Heidegger about April’s disappearance: “Who chops up a body into little pieces and buries them next to his tomatoes?? A psychopath that’s who!”
The acting is pretty good bar some dodgy drunken staggering and insincere compassion. The camera work and special effects are fine, the gore is a little on the light side as much is suggested rather than shown but there are a few spilt guts, gouged out hearts and axes in the head scenes that don’t disappoint. The soundtrack works well and is performed by Chris Sorem and The Narcoleptic Pandas (great name). On the whole an ok film but nothing memorable to mention apart from maybe the fact that this is probably one of the only films I’ve seen in which no one manages to successfully light a cigarette!
PARASITES *** U.S.A. (2016) Director: Chad Ferrin 80 mins
The acting is great from pretty much everyone involved especially Robert Mianos (Donnie Brasco) portrayal of Wilco as the foul mouthed, bloody minded, raging homeless overlord. Sean Samuels doesn’t falter in his role of Marshall and there is a brief appearance from Joe Pilato as a ranting, drunken War Veteran now living on the streets. That being said I found the many running scenes arduous and unnecessary. The continuity of these scenes seemed way off a lot of the time. A brief example of this is a scene where Marshall is being chased by a really annoying screaming chain wielding assailant. On the long shot Marshall is easily way ahead of him but they cut to a close up and chain hobo is right behind him, cut away again and he is way behind again. They did this quite a lot, I am assuming to create tension and suspense but it seemed to only make it flat and quite frankly it did the exact opposite and just annoyed me quite a lot.
The very effective John Carpenter inspired soundtrack adds some great darkness and atmosphere throughout so hats off to Matt Olivo for that. The same cannot be said for the versions of American Folk classics “House Of The Rising Sun” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” sung by Miano and Samuels, nothing wrong with their singing but I wasn’t really feeling it and felt they were badly placed within the film as in not the best backtracks to endless running montages.
The ending is very Romero-esque in its bleakness though and the SPFX are perfectly reasonable with some good slicing and impaling effects. I really like the idea of this and for the most part enjoyed it but found the drawn out chase scenes let it down a lot.
WHAT'S LEFT OF US (EL DESIERTO) **** Argentina (2013) Director: Christopher Behl 98 mins
Not big on action or gore but a well told and sad story. Not just for zombie nuts but people who appreciate a well told tragedy, trust me it will stick with you for a while after you’ve watched it.
THE COOK *** U.S.A. (2013) Dir: Joshua Miller 90 mins
BE MY CAT: A FILM FOR ANNE **** Romania 2015 Dir: Adrian Tofei 87 mins
The main cast is all of 4 people; Tofei and the 3 actresses he hires. Sonya (Sonia Teodoriv), Flory (Florentina Hariton) and Alexandra (Alexandra Stroe) and it is hard to say at times if their acting is intentionally awkward or not as on many occasions its quite uncomfortable but it adds to the realism of the film. Tofei’s acting has been described by other sources as “haunting”, “captivating” and “the most believable movie psychopath since Norman Bates” which I completely agree with and the others especially Stroe all put in fine performances. It is low budget with the emphasis on the characters so the body count is small and the SPFX non existent with the gory details concealed behind a screen which to be honest doesn’t detract from the film at all but encourages you to use your imagination. There are hints of other found footage films, The Blair Witch Project springs instantly to mind, but more in the overall feel than trying to copy them. I did read that Tofei insisted that the 3 actresses watch The Blair Witch, if they hadn’t seen it and read his manifesto on found footage before they began filming Be My Cat so they understood the concept. I also read that Adrian Tofei had been planning this film for years before filming and did in fact move himself and his mother to Radauti, Romania to experience the life his character would live, just goes to show his level of commitment to his vision. There is no soundtrack or incidental music to this film only Adrian’s favourite Romanian folk song which he regales us with from time to time.
An incredibly enjoyable film, what it lacks in gory detail it totally makes up for with great character portrayals and uncomfortable scenes.
REPORT FROM THE HALLOWED GROUND: SCARESVILLE (5 OCT 2016 - 5 NOV 2016)
The event is set up all around the buildings and farmland so there are many different scares happening as you go through. The whole experience lasts an hour and a half. There is no let up, no stopping for breaks, once you are in that’s it till you reach the end. If indeed, you make it to the end that is. At least this is what they boast anyway. It is aimed at groups and when you book your group (8 or more people) you choose a time slot and are given a group number. Once you arrive you are shown into an area done up like an olde worlde fair with entertainers such as Magicians and Tarot Readers and also gives you a chance to grab some hot food and a drink before your group is called forward. Once called you are given the usual safety briefing warning of loud noises, strobe lights and uneven ground to name a few. Once the spiel is over you are encouraged to go into single file with your hands of the shoulders of the person in front, the door is opened and when you are all through you are plunged into darkness…… your Scaresville experience has begun. Obviously I’m not going to tell you every little detail, a lot of scare attractions tend to follow a similar pattern, many if not all the building scares are mazes predominantly in darkness set up to disorientate you with scare actors in a variety of costumes lurking around corners and sneaking up behind you to catch you out. One of the scariest for me was ending up in a room with a light that blinked on and off containing a Weeping Angel character. I shit you not, I was actually terrified by this. There is a small let up once you are outside as you can kind of see what is approaching and some bits are tamer than others. Another unsettling part was the abattoir section which was very wet, messy and ridiculously claustrophobic. There are also places where you are forced over wobbly bridges and to climb through net traps. As expected there were quite a few areas that housed the infamous killer clowns and chainsaw wielding hill billies. The biggest let down for me though had to be the Zombie Zone, I got all excited as I passed the sign entering said zone, I think I only counted 3 zombies one of which was in a hammock in a tree that we saw well in advance and the other 2 briefly appeared and then wondered off again. Their attempted scare was to kind of cock their head to one side which kind of reminded me of the way my cat looks at me when he decides to walk in on me on the loo! Plus none of them had make up they just wore masks which I thought was a bit of a poor show. There was another zombie type area more likened to The Crazies, containing dismembered corpses (mannequins) on tables and a couple of zombiefied nurses but again they didn’t do enough with it in my opinion.
When you have completed the event you end up in a nice cosy bar area where you can enjoy a nerve settling alcoholic beverage and chat about your experience, which was a nice touch. On the whole I did enjoy the Scaresville experience. I think they put a lot of time and effort into the set, surroundings and FX but I found the majority of the outside scare actors unenthusiastic and predictable with a distinct lack of zombies. Inside the buildings there were a number of times I jumped, was caught out and scared by quite a few of them though so fair play. Plus there was an awful lot of screaming going on from the other groups going round before and after us so they did their job and everyone who went seemed suitably freaked out at the end! If you are able to get to that part of the country and you are a fan of scare attractions then I would definitely suggest a visit. I believe tickets are still on sale for later on this month but be aware that prices for this particular event increase dramatically the closer it gets to Halloween.
If you think this is something that would interest you for 2017 then keep an eye on this page:
DEAD DAD ** (2015) Origin: U.K. Duration: 25 mins Director: Lee Burgess
Dead Dad was originally filmed in 2007-2008 as part of a collection of shorts to be combined into a feature film called Dreaming Of Screaming. This and two other shorts, torture flick Looking Good and a vampire film called Lady, were to play homage to Euro Horror filmmakers of the 70’s and 80’s. However it was thought that due to the pace of the different films it wasn’t going to work so writers John Ninnis and Lee Burgess (also the director) decided to keep the films separate. This particular one was finally completed in Feb 2015 on a budget of £600 and was shot in Trelewis and Bedlinog in South Wales. Dead Dad is the story of Joe Turner, a recently widowed man who, whilst watching the local news his TV channel changes to a graveyard scene which turns him into a zombie. We are all familiar with Pontypool and the recent adaptation of Cell where contamination happens via music or mobile phones so if these are plausible then why not through the medium of TV too however far fetched it appears to be?! This recently deceased man is also a single dad to a toddler who he seems to still remember so goes about his fatherly duties as a zombie but is being harassed by a bumbling and awkward social worker who seems nice at first but grows suspicious of Joe’s recent changes and tries to take the child. Joe Turner is played by Chris James-Jones and he does an excellent job of zombieing, I am very impressed by his skills. The social worker is played by Kirk John Moore and is really quite odd and all over the place but is funny especially when planning his actions by talking rather loudly into a brick sized Dictaphone and then discovering a one armed zombie in the shed. There is also a separate story going on with the female news reporter from the local TV channel who is great at not taking herself too seriously! The make up is adequate but a few to many close ups don’t really help to do it justice. The kid isn’t in it much but there is an endearing scene with his zombie dad which is quite sweet, if you like that kind of thing, if you don’t then there are a few nods to the zombie greats. The best thing about this short is the music. The score is written and performed by Yorgos Pangagiotopoulos (I really hope this is their real name!) and it is fantastic! The synth and the reverb really help create the classic 80’s zombie movie sound; there is also a brilliant scene of our zombie dad driving off in his car to hunt victims with a hilarious tune reminiscent of Benny Hill! In conclusion this is a pretty good tribute to the great 80’s zombie B movies right down to the dodgy acting!
You can check out DEAD DAD via the links below:
THE BATTERY ***** (2012) Origin: U.S.A. Duration: 100 mins Director: Jeremy Gardner
OH LORDI! : THE FILMS OF LORDI
As I mentioned in the TURNTABLE OF TERROR article on LORDI, they have been involved in one horror short, a feature length film and a documentary. Here I will attempt to provide a short (who am I kidding?!) review of said features.
The Kin ** (2004) Origin: Finland Duration: 33mins Director: Lauri Haukkamaa
This horror short was co-written by Mr. Lordi and starred himself and the band line up from The Monsterican Dream era in fact this film originally was only released on the special edition of said album, but I did manage to find it on YouTube. It is the story of a writer, Anna, who is trying to get her book on monsters published and following a tragic accident in her family, sees monsters (played by the band), similar to the ones in her book start to materialise and cause mayhem and havoc by murdering and maiming seemingly innocent people. Shot in a way very reminiscent of your typical horror B movie, almost Lovecraftian in places. It features drawings courtesy of Mr. Lordi and the score also has his input but it doesn’t feature any Lordi songs. It is rather over indulgent on setting the scene, I find the acting below average, it drags a bit and to be honest there is no where near enough Lordi monster action for my liking but when they are there they look great, there are some very good effects, gore and skull slicing. It’s definitely something you would expect from a band like Lordi to create and feature as a bonus DVD. An acceptable offering but if I am to agree with some other reviews of this short it would appear I need to watch this a few times to fully understand it. Unfortunately I can think of plenty of other things I could do to occupy myself for 33 mins to bother giving it another go…. sorry guys.
Dark Floors *** (2008) Origin: Finland Duration: 85mins Director: Pete Riski
Monsterman (Monsterimies) ***** (2014) Origin: Finland Duration: 85mins Director: Antti Haase
This latest Rob Zombie offering has a welcome feeling of familiarity to it as it’s the same era as House of 1000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects but is an entirely different idea to those films. It, of course, has Sheri Moon Zombie as one of the lead female characters, Charly. Alongside her we also have Meg Foster as Venus Virgo and Jeff Daniel Phillips as Roscoe, with other previous Zombie favourites such as Lew Temple and Ginger Lynn putting in grand supporting performances. Malcolm McDowell appears as one of the aristocratically wigged and powdered game leaders Father Murder. The aggressors are by far one of the best parts of the film with names like Sick-Head, Psycho-Head and Death-Head but the most terrifying of all had to be Doom-Head who we see in the prologue merrily chopping up a Pastor with an axe. Played by Richard Brake (Hannibal Rising, Game of Thrones) whose wiry frame doesn’t come across as particularly menacing at first but combine that with corpse paint and knives and he turns into a blood thirsty psychopath! The film is fast paced and holds your attention throughout from the black and white introduction to the humorous one liners, good acting and a great soundtrack courtesy of John 5 (formerly of the David Lee Roth band and Marilyn Manson, now the current guitarist in Rob Zombies band) interspersed with classic 70’s tracks ending quite hauntingly with Aerosmith’s Dream On. Rob Zombie seems to take bashings from most critics slating almost every movie he has done yet despite this constant abuse he keeps doing his thing and creating great horror movies his own way. I have always enjoyed his efforts. The only slight criticism I have of 31 is that the gore just wasn’t as much as I had hoped. It didn’t seem as graphic as it so easily could have been had a little bit more time been spent on it (it was said at the start of the film that it had been filmed in something like 22 days!), instead he opted for excitable, hyper active camera work and a shed load of fake blood, it was possible to just use you imagination in these moments and the suggestion of it was still effective. He got plenty of slashing and chain saw action in to keep us happy. 31 was possibly the best introductory film I could have chosen for my first ever experience of FrightFest as nothing portrays the essence of horror more then a Rob Zombie film! Don’t let the haters sway your opinion of his work they are all worthy efforts and 31 will not let you down.
I, ZOMBIE: THE CHRONICLES OF PAIN **** (1998) Origin: UK Duration: 85 mins Director: Andrew Parkinson
This is a bit of an unknown film and if it wasn’t for the people in the know bringing it to my attention I would have gone on blissfully unaware of its existence and denied myself a truly awesome British zombie film, so thanks guys!! I found the story flowed incredibly well throughout, even though some of the hallucination sequences were a little confusing it picked back up. You really feel for Mark (Giles Aspen) who spends a fair amount of time on his own either convulsing on the floor, dismembering bodies or getting over friendly with photographs, he also did all his own stunts as well. There are some very good gory moments with well done half eaten bodies that due to how they are initially taken down may or may not wake up whilst being eaten! For a low budget film they have concentrated on accurate make up and effects. I also love how it is not your average zombie storyline either. The effects of this particular infection does not kill you instantly nor even in a few hours, there is no reanimation, you don’t die and come back craving brains. You’re still alive when you are driven to cannibalism and you’re still alive as your body is very slowly rotting from your bones. I think this in itself is a rarely used and brilliant take on things.
With all this early praise though I would like to point out a few small discrepancies, one part being, Sarah alerts the police that Mark has been missing for 3 weeks. They fill out a report and so on then nothing, some of the sequences of Sarah talking about Mark could be under police interview I guess but they don’t really make that very clear, you certainly hear nothing of a search for him. Also at one point Mark goes back to the house he shared with Sarah after a short train journey so its obvious he is not that far away or being particularly incognito either. Then there is the case of his victims, at some points he grabs them off the street in broad daylight surely someone would have seen this and found it a bit odd? He doesn’t dispose of the bodies very discreetly either, his flat appears to be in the middle of a city if one of his neighbours were to look out their window of an evening they’d see him burying ominous bin bags or burning clothes late into the night, pretty suspect behaviour really! I realise its not really meant to be about that though, it’s about the struggle, pain and despair of Marks situation I get that but it did annoy me a little.
Doing background research on this film I, of course, came across previous reviews slagging it off calling it “over serious and predictable” but I also found quite a few others giving it the love it deserves. Apparently Marc Price had said if he had known about the existence of I, ZOMBIE he probably wouldn’t have made COLIN which I would take as a compliment as although slightly similar in premise they are both done differently and are amazing films. Fangoria initially released I, ZOMBIE in 1998, it was released on VHS in 1999 and on DVD in 2014 in North America. You can only get this film on DVD from the States and even the VHS format over here in the UK will cost you twenty quid! It was 4 years in the making and was written, directed and produced by Andrew Parkinson who also did the music. On the subject of the music, for a film started in the mid 90’s and released in 98/99, the incidental music is very typical 80’s style synth/ Casio keyboard music which I really love and anytime there is a stereo on it seems to be playing 80’s pop music, I guess that and the fact I watched it from a VHS copy with that soft, older feel to it all add to the fact that I, ZOMBIE felt, to me, like it was older then it really is.
In conclusion this low budget gem is a fantastic example of a different take on a zombie pandemic, it makes you sympathetic towards Mark but there are also the little pieces that make you smile, it is by no means “over serious”. Maybe sometimes the acting could be considered a tad wooden which I suppose could fuel the over serious debate as sometimes you think they could put a smidge more emotion into it but instead they just end up looking a bit awkward but I can totally overlook that in this instance. It’s a great idea, story and pretty good execution, a definite must see for any zombie fan.
FLY TRAP (2015) *** Origin: USA Duration: 81 mins Director: Stephen David Brooks
DARK COVE (2016) ** Origin: Canada Duration: 84mins Director: Rob Willey
HORRORCON 2016: HORROR COMES TO ROTHERHAM
HorrorCon has just shut its doors on its second successful year. It took place on the 9th and 10th July at the Magna Science Centre in Rotherham. The building is fantastic, it used to be a steel mill and bears a lot of features from those days, and so has a very eerie, industrial feel to it. It apparently was also built on the site of a Roman Fort and thus rumoured to be haunted, so a brilliant place for a Horror Convention! Last years HorrorCon was kind of a tester to see how popular it would be and if they would be able to do it annually. I can’t remember how I came to hear about last years but I do remember the guests that drew me there. There was Ken Foree, Bill Moseley, Tom Savini and was one of the last UK appearances of the late Gunnar Hansen. I had an amazing time there and really hoped that it would return the next year and it appears I was not the only one! The organisers, sisters Wendy and Gill Bell, local to the Sheffield/ Rotherham area, themselves huge Horror fans wanted to develop and organise a Horror Convention on a similar scale to the larger Comic conventions to appeal to all horror fans, and after the response to last year brought it back for an even bigger and better event this year.
I can hold off no more about the traders markets my friends, no word of a lie the shops are to die for!! I was like a woman possessed buzzing from stall to stall spending my hard earned cash on so many beautiful things!! There were stalls selling Horror movie t-shirts, prints, paintings and posters. Stalls selling weapons (if you’re into that kind of thing), masks, intricately drawn independent comics, horror themed cup cakes and fudge even cute, cuddly, zombiefied, crocheted animals!! There were of course an abundance of DVDs and Blu Rays of everything from Action, Comedy and Monsters to Splatter, Supernatural and many, many Zombie movies!! What I didn’t see a great deal of though were soundtracks either on vinyl or CD but maybe, by this time, I was blinded by everything else going on and just overlooked them, they certainly weren’t obvious any way. There were stall for businesses to promote themselves such as local film festivals. The main sponsor of HorrorCon 2016 was Horror/Dark photography company Horrify Me, who had their stall in prime location by the autograph booths and were there to chat to and showcase their incredibly vast, dynamic and beautiful collection of Zombie, Vampire, Autopsy and Dark Boudoir photo shoots available to us, if we dare!
This convention has pretty much nailed it all in a short space of time and I can see myself returning year after year, it’s a great location, amazing prices and has something for every kind of horror genre fan. On the Saturday night they even had an after show movie night at the local cinema just down the road in Sheffield where they were showing Return Of The Living Dead for a really good price if you showed your HorrorCon wristband which is a tremendous idea especially if you have a weekend pass! I remember leaving last years con feeling exhausted but happy I’d seen everything. This year I also had an amazing time but I feel like there was a fair bit I didn’t get to see enough of so its pretty glaringly obvious that for next years event I will be getting weekend tickets!!
NAVY SEALS VS ZOMBIES (2015) ** Origin: USA Duration: 84mins Director: Stanton Barrett
'Z NATION' SERIES 1 & 2 REVIEWED ****
Season 1: 13 episodes Season 2: 15 episodes
Origin: USA Created by: Karl Schaefer and Craig Engler
He starts out with a group of soldiers escorting him but when we meet them he is down to just one soldier, Hammond, with him and as the episodes play out and progress he ends up with a small group of survivors from different walks of life trying to help get him to the CDC. With the help of a guy calling himself Citizen Z (a former computer hacker taken on by the NSA and based in the Arctic) , the sole survivor after the outbreak at the Northern Lights listening post he runs a radio broadcast out of the doomed outpost, with access to satellite cameras all over the states he can see the carnage caused by the ZA as it unfolds and with little radio contact tries to guide the intrepid group to their destination. This all sounds pretty serious and it is a genius idea and setting but the characters and the many ridiculous zombie frequented situations are absolutely hilarious!! Where shows like The Walking Dead have you immersed, deeply involved and perched on the edge of your seat, watching as well known characters meet their demise you’d be lucky to finish a cup of tea watching it. Z Nation is a definite take away pizza, 6 pack, put your feet up and laugh your arse off kind of show. Not a show to be taken too seriously but as it develops you find yourself getting more attached to these people. The writers Karl Schaefer (Eerie Indiana & Eureka) and Craig Engler (Zombie Apocalypse & Rage of the Yeti) set about creating this series with a deliberate over the top, truly bat shit crazy look at a zombie apocalypse featuring everything that The Walking Dead would not even dream of. They claim that The Walking Dead is just a bit too serious and have proved that even though their take on the ZA is ridiculous it is just as endearing. In the first few episodes of series 1 you get a really angry and fast zombie baby and a bus load of zombie children. In other episodes you encounter zombie bears, Amish zombies, giant zombie infested cheese wheels, stoned zombies, a phenomenon known as a Zunami and my all time favourite thing ever a ZOMBIENADO (Yes people it finally happened and I truly believe we need more of them!!), nuclear zombies and even half zombie half plant symbiosis. In the second series we are introduced to Z weed, oh and in one truly bizarre episode they end up in Roswell and find what they think are zombie aliens!! All kinds of types of zombies are in there from the super fast to the slow more decayed ones.
The characters are fantastic and really well acted. Murphy, played by Keith Allan (Rise of the Zombies), is supposed to be unlikeable. He is sleazy, under handed and only thinks of himself but as the series progress you can’t help but have a soft spot for him. As he gets bitten early on in the first episode but doesn’t turn, due to the vaccine he was given, he doesn’t really stay human but becomes a kind of half zombie with hilarious consequences. Some of the other characters are Lt. Roberta Warren (Kellita Smith) and Charles Garnett (Tom Everett Scott), ex National Guard soldiers who join the quest to get Murphy to the CDC after their original camp is over run but eventually end up as the leaders. Doc (Russell Hodgkinson) is a happy go lucky psychiatrist and recovering drug addict, the elder of the group but seems to get into the most trouble. Addy ( Anastasia Baranova) is probably my favourite character; she has her own vulnerabilities and past experiences but is a total badass when it comes to fighting zombies. Her weapon of choice is a metal baseball bat with spikes in it, this has now become my number one option if/when the ZA happens. Mack, played by Michael Welch (who was apparently in the Twilight films?!), is Addy’s boyfriend quite moody but very protective of his girl and a dab hand at killing zombies. Then we meet a guy who at first starts out as just being known as The Kid (Nat Zang) , he is a very talented shooter and is trying to hit ten thousand zombie kills so is then called 10K (we do find out his real name eventually!). As great a marksman as he is he has a naivety about him that is kind of odd but annoyingly really attractive. Finally there is Cassandra (Pisay Pao) a loner they rescue from being eaten who then nearly gets them all killed. In the second series we meet a bounty hunter called Vasquez (Matt Cedeno) who joins the team and has an agenda all of his own. And of course we have Citizen Z (DJ Qualls off of Road Trip), he appears throughout most of the episodes in series 1 and has a few episodes dedicated to his character so we can make up our minds if he is really loosing it out there all on his own. Over the series there are guest appearances from the likes of Bill Moseley, Harold Perrineau, George RR Martin and Missi Pyle.
I personally feel this is a truly brilliant series that keeps your interest throughout and leaves you wanting more, whether it is even more crazy zombies or actually finding out the characters stories and following their journey. There are some sad times and even some of the more permanent characters don’t make it but they always seem to keep it fairly light on the emotion so you don’t become too attached I guess. The budget is no where near on the same scale as The Walking Dead but they have done brilliant things with what they have. The zombie make up and special effects are done in the 80’s kind of style of zombie, mostly blue and green with a truck load of fake blood which I really approve of. I have raved about this series ever since the first episode and advised all other zombie fans or The Walking Dead fans to watch it and some of them did but to be honest they don’t seem as excited about it as I am. Even though I have said not to compare it to The Walking Dead some of them have and really don’t like it but I consider myself a fan of both and believe it is possible to enjoy both series as they are so different from each other. If you are a fan of zombie flicks and having a laugh you will love it. The second series has just finished and I know a third series is on the cards and with a bit of luck many more to come.
Colin (2008) ***** Duration: - 1hr 37 mins Origin: UK Director: Marc Price
As we follow him we run into a few siege scenarios where the uninfected are trying hard to survive and fight but with very little success. We come to a house that has been overrun with only a lone female survivor who Colin is somehow compelled to follow. Taking refuge at a pub with a seemingly friendly landlord she ends up in deeper shit then she was before, Colin moves on. He stops and stares intently at certain street signs and landmarks like they mean something to him almost like a pre programmed urge is drawing him in a certain direction but again is stopped. This time he is kidnapped by his sisters’ husband and taken to his childhood home where they hope seeing his mother will spark some recognition, it doesn’t. Back on his way again he (inadvertently) joins a horde of zombies just as they are attacked by a group of survivors using sling shots firing razor blades and make shift grenades. Many of the horde are destroyed and Colin suffers severe damage but manages to get away. A few of the survivors are bitten and the rest of the group are left to draw straws as to who has the misfortune to dispatch the infected and they basically have to beat them to death. The film ends with Colin reaching the last place he remembers before he was infected and a flash back to his last thoughts.
Marc Price (Director) shot this film on a Panasonic Mini DV Camcorder and edited it on his home PC, in total the film took 18 months to complete. The zombies were recruited mostly through the medium of social media and many of them played multiple characters and did it for free which I’m sure helped to keep costs down. On the cover the film boasts that it was made on a budget of £45, I don’t know how true this statement is. It is defiantly low budget but done brilliantly. Colin is played by Alastair Kirton and he does a tremendous job. With very little dialogue he makes Colin a really likeable zombie and not in a stupid, mushy way like some do. His little quirks like stealing an MP3 player off a victim as they’re eaten (complete with their ear) just makes you really fond of him. I actually felt sorry for him quite a number of times.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I absolutely adore this film and have as much fondness for this as I do for any of George Romero’s classic zombie movies. I have read some very damning reviews of Colin though which I categorically disagree with. They say there is no plot and that due to the lack of dialogue it is boring and goes nowhere. I just think that it is a different take on the genre. There are no heroes, no massive explosions and no half dressed overly grateful blonde I’m afraid but to me it just proves how unnecessary that stuff is. If I was to be completely objective and go with my head I would rate this film with 4 stars because some of the acting is a little questionable at times but I’m not going to, I have to go with my heart and give it 5 stars. I can forego the dodgy acting purely for the make up, fake blood and effects used to create the zombies, especially Colin himself. I have seen bigger budget zombie movies with worse zombie make up then this. I feel that they really thought about this and didn’t turn everyone your bog standard green/blue colour. Colin, when first turned just looked slightly paler and as he starts to decompose you see his skin start to sag and thin, towards the end in a battle with some survivors a make shift bomb blows up right next to him taking half his face off.
In conclusion this film might be a little bit wobbly in places, doesn’t have big names or dramatic explosions but it does seem to me to be how it could be if this actually happened over here. I know one thing though I might love Colin but if I met him I’d run in the opposite direction!!
Green Room (2015) ***** Duration: - 1hr 35mins Origin: US Director: Jeremy Saulnier
The band is then all bundled into the back room, and scene of the crime, whilst the skins call in their boss to deal with the situation. This isn’t necessarily a good outcome for the band as it stands but exacerbated by the fact that the band decides to call the police to report the murder. The boss, Darcy Bunker, played by none other then Patrick Stewart, is a well spoken but fearsome and threatening character who, with the help of his loyal followers stages a stabbing to throw the cops off and make them think that was what the original call was about. He then turns his attention back to the band and plans to make sure they will never leave the room.
Director, Jeremy Saulnier, does a fantastic job of showing the band members characters before hand without taking up too much film time getting to know everyone. Shot mostly in and around the room they are shut inside, it captures their blind panic and fear when they realise what is happening and the lengths they go to just to escape and the devastation that befalls them. There is violence a plenty, be it from a machete, shotgun, killer dogs, fire extinguisher or just getting the absolute shit kicked out of you. The camera work and special effects are spot on, with everything from half severed limbs to holes blown through faces with dramatic effect. Other cast members are Anton Yelchin (Fright Night) as Pat, Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later) as Amber and Eric Edelstein (The Hills Have Eyes 2) as Big Justin to name a few.
I’ve already mentioned Patrick Stewart’s role but as we are so used to seeing him in wholesome and trusted character roles such as Capt Picard its worth mentioning him again as he does sterling job as a Nazi mentalist leader. He is incredibly chilling, you don’t see him attacking anyone and he doesn’t hog the limelight so to speak as his part is quite small in comparison but his manner really puts you on edge. Couldn’t think of a better person for the role although he wouldn’t spring instantly to my mind which is why I think the casting for this film has been thought out really well.
One of my favourite things about this film is the music and the nods to some truly great Punk bands. To provoke a reaction from the crowd the band plays a cover of the Dead Kennedys “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”. They are also wearing Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys T-shirts and the cover/poster of the film is reminiscent of the iconic image of The Clash’s “London Calling” cover.
I don’t want to over do it on the description of this film as it is definitely recommended that you go and see it as soon as possible, it hit the cinemas last month so don’t delay it any longer. It is gloriously gory, vigorously violent and sweet music to your ears!!