Zephyrus of the Anemoi

.the ramblings of a radman.

Category: Scary Movie Month (page 2 of 4)

We should have gone to the beach like I told you.
— Roy 

I have two words for you: Nazi zombies. Or zombie Nazis. It doesn’t matter which order you put them in, they are still an awesome combination. Dead Snow (iTunes) is probably the best zombie film I’ve seen from the last 30 years. I don’t care what people say about “slow zombies” vs “fast zombies”. Zombies can be undead or infected or possessed by voodoo. They can be fast, slow, dimwitted, or smart. They don’t necessarily have to be single-minded, though it certainly increases the fear. What I’m saying is, I love zombie movies no matter how the zombies are portrayed, because it’s the simple, unrelenting nature of the beast that inspires fear.

This movie does so many things right, it’s difficult to believe that there is a compelling reason to watch any other zombie movie. The protagonists find so many awesome ways to kill zombies that this movie is now the gold standard for new zombie movies to aspire to. There is plenty of awesome gore, but it never gets repetitive. Also, brains on the floor. I don’t need to say anything more about that. If you’ve already seen the movie, then you just had a brief moment of hilarity as you remembered the scene to which I am referring. But even beyond that, there are so many more amazing moments: “entrail-feasting grenade surprise”, “chaingun snowmobile”, “two-versus-the-horde showdown of epic violence”, and more.

There are even some awesome tributes to Sam Raimi with several series of quick cuts and big, clear sound effects (the first being when one of the characters tears a strip of cloth, wraps it around a stick, dips it in gas, lights it, and pulls it up to his face to see inside a cave). This is a direct reference to both Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, when Ash uses his inventiveness to replace his missing hand with a chainsaw and gauntlet, though he has used the same trademark in other films, as well. Hell, there’s even a self-inflicted chainsaw amputation scene.

Honestly, if the director had shot the entire film in English, this movie would probably be at the top of the list of great movies for nearly every horror fan. And even though it’s all in Norwegian and you have to read subtitles to understand the conversations, it’s still fantastic. Please see this movie and share it with your friends.

Best of all, it’s on Netflix Instant, in HD.

While 28 Days Later may not be a zombie movie the likes of Dawn of the Dead or [REC] (iTunes), it’s still a fantastic commentary on humanity and what would happen to society if social mores went out the window. On top of that, it’s bloody terrifying. Jim’s transition from recovering hospital patient to unwitting survivor to rage-filled protector is phenomenal and has more than a few thrills for the viewer.

Danny Boyle is one of my favorite directors. I liked Trainspotting (iTunes), loved Slumdog Millionaire (iTunes) and Sunshine (iTunes), and even enjoyed The Beach (iTunes). So you can understand why this movie is in my top 5 list for “zombie” movies and top 10 for scary movies. But it’s not just the pedigree that makes it fantastic. The story draws excellent parallels between the RAGE-virus victims and an uninfected human filled with rage and taking the fight to his or her enemies. This is where the movie really shines.

I also love the music from this film. The “theme” during the climactic showdown at the end of the movie is a simply beautiful piece and I love to listen to it, even when I’m just chilling at home or work. And, unlike most horror stories, this one has a (somewhat) happy ending. Plus, it’s a significantly better movie than 28 Weeks Later (iTunes).

The original, 1978 release of Dawn of the Dead is the best zombie horror movie I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, I love Shaun of the Dead (iTunes), Zombieland (iTunes), 28 Days Later, and even the 2004 remake. Part of what makes this movie so fantastic is its originality and sense of humor. The number of times Romero tries to find humor in an apocalypse borders on the ludicrous. From our heroes running through the mall making a game of looting stores while zombies try to catch them to the motorcycle gang throwing pies in the faces of the zombies rather than killing them, there are plenty of opportunities to laugh.

Romero also does an awesome job of showing how the experience of surviving a zombie apocalypse can easily lead to insanity, as two characters in the movie come unhinged during the course of the film. It’s also a gore-fest, despite being an older movie. While some of the effects are nowhere near as realistic as what we see today, there are still some cringe-worthy moments when zombies claim their victims.

However, perhaps the best part of this movie is how effectively it teaches you to survive a zombocalypse. A mall may not be at the top of my list of places to hole up in, but it’s certainly in my top 5. And now that you know how it all goes wrong, you can make better decisions than the characters to survive even longer.

The mother of all zombie movies, Night of the Living Dead (iTunes) is an excellent film and, due to the way it is lit and filmed in black-and-white, it’s rather frightening. While zombies from later films will be much scarier and more realistic, Romero does an excellent job of bringing this favorite villain of cinemaphiles everywhere to the big screen in one of the most iconic films of all time.

The ending is typical of most early horror films, in that it ends in tragedy, just when it seems as though the protagonists will survive. Of course, there is some excellent humor in the ending of the film, as well. I also quite loved the way that the zombies were referred to as ghouls. In fact, it’s a name I wish they continued to use.

If you love zombie movies, and you still haven’t seen this one, you should watch it and all the Romero films. You won’t regret it.

I never saw Quarantine (iTunes). It didn’t look interesting to me, though mostly because I’m done with the hand-held camera style of filmmaking. And yet, when I was busy looking for scary movies to watch this month, [REC] (iTunes) popped up a couple times. It was all in Spanish and required viewing with subtitles, but was well worth it. Of course, it was also quite predictable, but that didn’t stop it from being an enjoyable zombie movie.

Often-times, when watching a foreign horror film, I expect low-budget sets and less-than-stellar makeup/effects. However, that was not the case with this movie. Zombies make for an excellent low-budget or foreign horror film, though. One of the scariest scenes in the entire movie required very little in the way of budget, and that was the scene where the police officer, fireman, and cameraman come across the little girl in one of the apartments.

As I said, I’m over the hand-held camera style of filmmaking, but this one was actually worth the time and effort to watch.

I’ve seen the original White Noise (iTunes), though I don’t remember much about it. It was creepy. Not overly frightening, but still left me with genuine unease about actual white noise for a time. I had hoped that the sequel wouldn’t just be a rehash of the first, and it wasn’t (at least, as far as I can tell, considering how little I remember of the first).

White Noise 2 (iTunes) on the other hand had some well-played scare factor, despite a much less scary premise. Whereas the original focused more on the protagonist seeking out a method to communicate with the dead (specifically, his wife), the sequel has a protagonist that can tell when people are going to die and attempts to save them. However, in doing so, their fates are altered and the consequences are more severe than had they simply died “on schedule”. Of course, the best part of the movie is Nathan Fillion, whom I adore. But Katee Sackhoff also plays a significant role, which is another great reason to watch the film.

The effects for the movie are fantastic, particularly the intermingling of the dead among the living. The simple use of a color (or lack thereof) to accentuate the unliving is downright gorgeous in a handful of scenes (particularly the climax, when we finally discover how the side effects of saving someone’s life might actually be averted). I had expected a wholly different ending, though I found my self pleased with this one. It could have gone a whole different way, and I’m glad they didn’t, as it’s what audiences likely would have seen coming.

Anyway, this is a good one to watch with a loved one that is creeped out by ghastly images and dark figures in unexpected places. Especially if either of you find Nathan or Katee attractive (and if you don’t, what is wrong with you people?).

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for a Firefly reference in the first 30 minutes of the movie. Well-played, Mr. Fillion, et al.

So, here’s another Bodysnatchers story. The Faculty is actually one of my favorites, because it has a large number of young actors that are either recognizable or famous, a great soundtrack for those of you that graduated in the late 90s, and just the right amount of chills and thrills to get your heart pounding. Sure, it’s also got Josh Hartnett, but as a counter it’s got Elijah Wood and a number of other recognizables.

It’s got all of the critical components for a great survival/horror film: the nerdy kid that figures out the threat, the girl he’s in love with that bonds with him over their shared danger, the slacker genius that figures out how to save them all, the traitor in their midsts, the conspiracy theorist/horror movie junkie, and the popular/successful guy that wants to change his future. One of the best scenes in the movie is very reminiscent of The Thing, when they are testing the blood to see who is infected.

But, my favorite scene in the entire movie is the football game. It gives an awesome sense that something disturbing is going on, with some great moments of humor thrown in, as well. If you enjoy teen horror movies, you should definitely give the movie a watch. If you just want an excuse to relive your high school years, it’s another excellent choice.

The story of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers is a common one, and a story I’ve seen many times. The story goes: an alien force invades our planet by taking over or cloning the bodies of various individuals, the “snatched bodies” evade detection long enough to make more of themselves, more bodies are taken over, eventually a small group of individuals is fighting to stay alive or in control, and they either succeed or fail.

Invasion of the Bodysnatchers is one of the truly great versions of this story because there’s no hope for the victims. They cannot be cured, or rescued, because they are already dead. Instead, only emotionless clones remain to impersonate them. Further, this version of the story has the best ending of all of the different versions of this story. Plus, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldlbum, and Leonard Nimoy are all in this one. That alone should make it worth whatever price of admission there is.

My only complaint about this story is the fact that it seemed as though there truly was no method for the characters to fight back. Simply falling asleep meant you were dead. Sure, someone could wake you up, but falling asleep again lead to your death. I think it is meant to be implied that the pods that would clone you while you slept were usually nearby and thus could reach you with their tendrils to start the cloning process, but that’s rarely how it appeared.

That is, however, a small complaint about an otherwise excellent remake. Tomorrow, of course, I’ll be watching The Faculty, which is another retelling of the story, but with so many recognizable faces, it’ll make your head spin. Be sure to check it out.

If I hadn’t already known what Rosemary’s Baby (iTunes) was all about, I would have been quite disturbed by the events. Many movies deal with pregnancy and the fears that a woman faces while pregnant, but this film goes above and beyond. I love conspiracy movies, especially those with supernatural undertones. It’s difficult to tell a story like this one and maintain a sense of realism, but Rosemary’s Baby does an excellent job.

While not exactly scary, it’s a very creepy movie and the climax is nightmarish for any pregnant woman. The reveal in the finale is quite shocking.

Thankfully, the movie came out when it did. Had it been made today, the ending would have been given away in the trailer.

Psycho (iTunes) is an iconic film and is my second Hitchcock film for Scary Movie Month. Psycho is often considered to be where “slasher” films began, due to a number of filming techniques and the way the plot is structured. Most slasher films, which became very popular in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, continue to use the same techniques, themes, and plot-twists while presenting the viewer with a “mystery” that the characters (and sometimes even the audience) are trying to solve.

While The Birds is a better movie, and North by Northwest is my favorite, Psycho is still a remarkable movie and any fan of cinema should check it out for the performances alone. Anthony Perkins is phenomenal as Norman Bates, and the way the plot unfolds, twists, and turns before the end makes it worth watching to everyone.

Also, if you’re just “tuning in” to Scary Movie Month, be sure to check out the calendar to see what’s coming up. Also, be sure and check out the new episode of Dead-Wait, the zombie web-series filmed and produced in Kansas City, which is available today.

« Older posts Newer posts »