Saturday, June 24, 2006

Zombies rock.

Seriously, nothing better than watching retarded people getting chowed-down upon by rotting bags of organs that move about as fast as a retarded toddler. Don't ask me why so many horror fans (myself included) get off on watching zombies do their thing... they're not as primal as werewolves, not as sexy (or bitchy) as vampires, not as classy as mummies... but somehow, we love them just the same, if not far moreso.

To help those of you who need a good stiff shot of Zombie Flu, Media Blasters/Shriek Show has released the ZOMBIE PACK, with 3 of their earlier DVD releases packaged in a flimsy cardboard box. The hell you say? Well let me tell you, 3 DVD's for $20 MSRP isn't an offer I can beat with my stick. I've yet to watch the extras on any of these, but I can talk about the films briefly. And I do mean briefly.

ZOMBI 3 - The "official" sequel to Lucio Fulci's "unofficial" sequel to ZOMBI, which is what they call Dawn of the Dead in Europe and Japan... with me? No? Good. Scientists create the ultimate super weapon - a zombie serum - which gets stolen by terrorists. Unfortunately, said scientitsts put the damned bio-super-weapon in a coke bottle or something, it leaks, and said terrorirst runs to a hotel where he mutates in to a squishy, bloodthirsty zombie. It's up to a bunch of goofy looking soldier boys and some slutty girls they picked up along the way - who are then attacked by zombie birds (!?) - to save humanity from the blood-thirsty hoards!

All right. This is "the movie with the flying zombie head in the fridge"... that's really all you need to know. It's THAT kind of movie. Logic, understanding, structure... fuck that. It was primarily directed by Lucio Fulci, the horror maestro best known for films like Zombi 2, The Beyond, and Don't Torture a Duckling. His films are very surreal and moody - if not always good. He got sick 2/3rds of the way through and left it to Bruno Mattei, who's directed horror movies like Rats: A Night of Terror, and Hell of the Living Dead. A lot of people have been cruel to Fulci in recent years, but let me tell you letting Mattei fix your movie while you're gone is like asking the Three Stooges to fix your shower while you go shopping. The results are hilarious... but awful. Zombies range from doing the Dawn of the Dead shuffle to jumping off of roof tops and doing undead Kung Fu. And seriously, why do zombies WAIT for peopel to be in juuuuuuust the right spot before they pop out of your stomach or out of a closet or, whatever? Did they just get lost and then get lucky? Ugh. Anyway, if you like gore and retardation and zombies being hit with flame throwers, this is the flick. This is it baby. If you want to watch a GOOD zombie movie, well... stay the hell away from Italy!

Also, it should be noted that Media Blasters' DVD for ZOMBI 3 is a bit... well, fux0red. They were given a 35mm Italian print, which was heavily cut, and so they had to take the BETA masters from the old Japanese video release to splice in the opening scene, a dialogue scene or two, and pretty much all of the gore. It sucks that they couldn't secure better film elements, but the Japanese and UK DVD's are non-anamorphic, and may or may not be all that great, and considering they couldn't have sold more than 30,000 copies (tops) I'm not too surprised they wouldn't go through the cost of getting a Japanese theatrical print with burned in Japanese subtitles so the gore would be a little clearer. It sucks, sure, but it's still the best DVD release the film's had yet.

AFTER DEATH - Sometimes called "Zombie 4", though I have no idea why. Opening with a voodoo priest raising his wife as a cracked out super zombie to take revenge on the scientists who inadvertantly killed his cancer ridden daughter, an adorable little girl - who acts like she's in a totally different movie - runs to safety while her parents are eaten by white guys wrapped up in nylons and face paint. Years later, she returns with a bunch of scruffy looking mercenaries and their old ladies for a vacation, but along the way one of them chases down a stranger in the jungle, and beats him up... only to be bitten by a zombie! That'll teach you to beat up strangers in the jungle. Dumbass. Anyway, they find an abandoned hospital full of guns... which also happens in Zombi 3. Huh. They also find the BOOK OF THE DEAD - we know because it says it in big spooky letters on the front - and after reading some passages Kandarian dem- I mean, zombies pop up to eat the living! I guess. They don't really eat them so much as they do bite them ands then let them barf up green slime and rot. Can the dem-er, zombie hordes be beaten back by what looks like a bad 80's metal band and their groupies?

Though it's arguably WORSE than Zombi 3, it isn't quite as much fun, if only because it doesn't switch from Fulci mode to Mattei mode at random. It IS an entertaining piece of crap though; it's basically just Evil Dead, Romero's entire "...of the Dead" trilogy (pre-LAND, of course) and Rambo 2 blended with just a hint of mental retardation. The star was also a gay porno star (Kurtis Stryker the liner notes say, I believe), which explains why he never hits on the heroine. And has his shirt tied off at his belly button. Yeah. Anyway, while none of the gore or action is any GOOD, there's definately plenty of it, and after the 40 minute mark (when most audiences are about ready to go watch something better) the zombies just keep on coming and don't stop 'till the final shot.

KILLING BIRDS - Released as Zombie 5 by Shriek Show (...wha?!) this marks perhaps the last horror film by the great sleaze meister Joe D'amato, director of Anthropophagous, Emanuelle in America, Caligula 2, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead and literally almost 200 others. His films are rarely any good, but there's always a combination of enthusiasm and professionalism that makes the final result a lot more lovable and exciting than his contemporaries. Especially his XXX porn.

Killing Birds start Laura Wendel, aka the cute girl who was getting naked on film at 13 in Maladolocsenza. It also has Robert Vaughn, who puts in a decent performance considering he was clearly on set for all of an hour. What you need to know is Wendel and her friends are going in to Louisiana to search for the rare Ivory Billed Woodpecker, and met Vaughn along the way. What they don't know is that Vaughn is a Vietnam vet who - upon returning home found his wife with another man, and killed them both. Her friends also showed up with their baby. He killed THEM, but saved the kid, and managed to piss off one of his pet birds enough that it tore out his eyes. 20 years later (or, whatever) he's still living, blinded... and the bodies of those he's killed have come back to life, feeding on the fear of those that get too close. Why? Ask D'amato. Oh, wait... he's dead. *Shrug*

Shot for Italian TV - and with synch English audio rather than the usual bad dubbing (bad acting is still here though) - Killing Birds (aka RAPTORS) is a pretty terrible film. It's biggest crime is that for the first half... it's pretty boring. There isn't much money to throw around, and being made for TV there isn't even any boobage. Infact the only sexy moment is when Wendel is giving the hero this "c'mere stud" look when she's nailed to a wall in one of the film's more bizarre dream/vision moments... and I'm not just saying that because I'm a freak. Seriously, 80's hair, 80's jeans, 80's in general were NOT a sexy time. *Shudder* So, all that aside once the zombies show up things get better. D'amato's films may not as a whole be excellent, but the moment any bodily fluids are on display he's in his element, and rivals the best genre directors out there. Unfortunately... again, for TV, so the gore inserts were basically just there to make it a horror movie internationally. Vaughn getting his eyes pulled out is pathetic, there's a LOT of fairly unconvincing throat-slitting, and he does re-do the "through the roof" gag from Anthro again, to a better artistic end but with a lot less splatter. The only REALLY great gore scene is when one of the kids gets his compass stuck in the generator and the gears end up not only pulling the chain in to his neck, but chewing off a few of his fingers too. That's great shit. it does get cheese points for having a guy; find a gun, run up to the zombie, get in a fight, and then DROPS THE GUN AND RUNS! "That is SO not gangsta'!" as Riley once said. Seriously, this film is worth seing mostly on an MST3K level or if - like me - you're just mental and can't get enough D'amato in your life.

And that's about it for now. I'm leaving for the weekend, so I need to grab various gore and smut and get ready to run. Thanks for reading!