Zombie Movie Review: REC3: Génesis

REC3 Poster

REC3:Génesis takes place on the same day as the previous films in the series, but this time in a far more open and daylit space – at a wedding in a luxury stately home in Spain. Things kick off in traditional REC style: shot in a camera POV style following the build up to and immediate aftershow of this big wedding between Clara and Koldo. Ah, and what a ceremony it is! They’ve done alright for themselves, able to have a big wedding bash in such an enormous house – seemingly bereft of any staff of owners but with a bitchin’ sound system that you can hear from anywhere in (and even under) the building. The perfect place for a good old knees-up. It does happen to be right next a graveyard where some mysterious people dressed in hazmat suits are ‘spraying for bugs’, but that can’t mean anything bad, can it?

Well as is often the case with zombie movies one of the attendees has turned up with a bandaged up wound on his hand. We didn’t see exactly how he got this, but he mentions that he is a vet who was bitten by a dog earlier in the day. (Surely just a coincidence that the little girl resident from REC1 had said that her dog had gone to the vet for being ill just as the zombie outbreak occurred in her apartment?)

Somewhat surprisingly this vet dude gets progressively more crazy as the party goes on, possibly due to alcohol, possibly not… Finally his illness starts to take over and he goes a little bit too crazy and starts attacking people and spitting blood all over the place. Damn, that dog he’d been treating must’ve been infected with a fast acting rabies or something?

All the while this is being recorded on video cameras by the guests, but this doesn’t continue for long. In what is one of the greatest (non-gory) moments of the film the torch is metaphorically passed from the REC of old to the REC of the future, and the POV format is ditched (really quite cleverly) and we’re now treated to a far less restricting and traditional approach to a zombie movie.

It’s not only the filming style that is more traditional than the previous films in the series, but the story and style too. The film becomes a good old-fashioned zombie movie, something we haven’t had many of in recent days. So what is a traditional zombie movie then? Well, one that involves running and hiding from the ghouls, some bickering and arguing, many great laughs and more importantly some gruesome zombie deaths – being dispatched in a variety of ingenious (and gory) ways.

The characters here are all superb and really play to the films strengths. There are the typical hero / heroine in Koldo and Clara, some great comic relief guys – (spongebob, sorry, John Sponge and the appropriately named ‘Royalties’ to name a couple) and a few useful exposition types who help further the plot and provide contextual links to the REC mythology.

So, as it’s a more traditional zombie film how does it fit into the REC universe? Well apart from being filmed predominantly away from the POV style, not being set inside a dark apartment and also playing more for laughs than for scares, it fits surprisingly well. They same mythology of the zombies is intact, it links in quite nicely to the previous films and provides a few more clues as to the origin of these creatures. Sure, it’s a totally different beast to 1 and 2 but that’s no bad thing. Sticking with an old formula for a third film in a series would have been a safe and potentially dull route to take, whereas with Génesis the series has been given a good shove into a new direction which should help make the final (and apparently very dark and serious) part 4 stand out just as well.

Gore Score B
Norks Score F
originality Score C+
Overall Score B+

Zombie Movie Review: REC2

REC2 zombie movie poster

Following on directly from REC; not just by being a sequel but actually following on directly from REC, REC2 covers a small group of armed police who go into the apartment block immediately as the closing credits of the first film would be running under the impression that they are there to check for survivors. However, what with this being a horror movie things are not as they seem.

After meeting up with an appointed government representative the team are filled in on the real purpose of this mission and the group of chaps have to race around the apartment building in the dark from floor-to-floor with their helmet mounted cameras (yes, this is how they keep the handheld camera theme going) in a similar vein to the first film for another 90 minutes trying to get to the bottom of the situation.

However, as much as it may sound, the movie is not really a retread of the first. The is a side stories going on here involving a group of kids breaking into the apartment to see what’s going on which provides a nice change of scenery (well, a change of characters at least – they’re still all stuck in the same apartment as everyone else from this film and the previous). There is also a change with the direction that the zombies take: No longer are they the mysterious infected, this time we know why – and it is an altogether more daemonic situation that we expected.

OK sure, there were hints in the first film as to what was going on, but they were really just there for effect – we had no idea what was really going on in that small apartment block until this movie (and even here it’s not completely answered – we’ll have to wait for the next two films for that).

So, as a movie how well does it do? Well it’s not as scary as the first one – possible because we’ve seen a lot of this already done in the first one, although it does have it’s moments – more so than most zombie films these days. Is it gory? Well again, nowhere near as much as the first. However what about as a story? Well this movie actually has a story, so it beats its predecessor in that respect. (All REC was about was just some woman running up and down stairs being chased for 90 minutes). But is it better than the original? No, probably not, although it’s a darn sight close. REC took a claustrophobic formula, ramped up the action and gave it all a fresh approach. REC2 is very similar, and where it improves over the original is with the story and the characters. However it does all take place in the same setting and probably isn’t different enough to be superior.

Gore Score C
Norks Score F
Originality Score C
Overall Score B+

Zombie Movie Review: The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies Poster

Well, we’re going to be needing copy-and-paste quite a bit for this review, ‘The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies‘ isn’t the sort of title you want to be typing over-and-over again. In fact there is a lot about this film that doesn’t really warrant repetition; re-watching being a primary case-in-point.

So with repetition apparently being the order of the day this is a good opportunity to discuss the main feature of this film: Dancing ladies. No, not the exciting of the zombie stripper variety, but the 1960’s burlesque style shenanigans. Sometimes these dancers are individual ladies, sometimes it’s a chorus line, and occasionally it’s the drunken ballroom dancing variety. So, why is a film with such a unique title so obsessed with numerous long dance numbers? Well, who knows.

The movie is predominantly set in a carnival following a pair of ‘youngsters’ and a lady-friend who, having ridden the big dipper for quite a while decide to visit a warty Elizabeth Taylor lookalike mystic (and her hairy, beak-faced mutant companion) to be told their future. Following a nonsense reading for one of them then head over to the burlesque show. The young lady decides this isn’t for her and leaves her boyfriend behind, who seems to have become transfixed with a mysterious gypsy dancer promoting the show and takes it upon himself to head on in for a quick perv over this woman, not caring about his lady companion.

Well, this dance show then proceeds to take up the bulk of this movie, so you better enjoy your slow and dreary dance / musical numbers if you want to get much out of this film. And don’t think that the brief hint of burlesque makes this any more exciting; it’s very tame and infrequent in the grand scale of the whole show.

So where are these ‘mixed-up zombies’ referred to in the title? Well, there aren’t any. There was one chap at the beginning of the film who gets acid poured over his face by Elizabeth Taylor, and he has some pals who have also been given this special beauty treatment, but they are neither ‘strange creatures’ nor do they ‘stop living’ either – but this is pre-Romero here so zombies were a lot more broad in their description. Their appearance is rather limited to a brief 5 minute rampage towards the end of the film, long after you will have given up any interest in the paper-thin plot.

This is the sort of film that would work best showing on a TV in the background inside some trendy bar where you don’t have to bother about listening to the dialog, following the plot or bothering about the dodgy audio-transfer from this 45 year old movie. In fact it would actually work really well there. You could sit back with some friends and some beers, occasionally glance up at whatever dance scene is currently going down and make up your own plot. Hey, it would probably make some sense.

Well, what do you know, there was no need for the Ctrl-C after all; the movie title was only actually mentioned once in this review anyway. Oh well, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies gets the following ratings:

Gore Score D-
Norks Score F
Originality Score C
Overall Score D-

Zombie Movie Review: Bong of the Dead

Bong of the dead poster

Stoner comedies; one genre that – up until now – had mostly managed to steer clear of the Undead. (Well sure, Idle Hands was a close one but that’s not really a zombie movie per-se. However that may well be reviewed here at some point in the future if deemed zombie-worthy). Bong of the Dead most certainly is a zombie stoner movie, and as such your enjoyment of this film may depend on your tolerance for such high-art comedy.

Two dudes (stoners, obviously) have by pure luck managed to survive a full-blown zombie apocalypse and are spending their lives as some of the last of the living smoking what remains of their precious weed stash. In an attempt to prolong their hoard they experiment with some scientific cultivation methodologies: a.k.a. liquidizing zombie-brains and using it to water their pot. Somehow this proves spectacularly effective and produces some mind-blowing hash, but the plucky dudes unsurprisingly smoke their way through the lot of it and realise they need to find some more zombie brains in order to regrow their batch and continue their life of luxury.

We follow these stoners as they set off into the ‘Danger Zone’ trying to track down some zombie brains, and get to meet just some of the people – living and dead – that they bump into on their travels. It turns out that outside of their hotboxed abode life goes on, it’s just a life that’s not exactly the same as it used to be. But still, plenty of fun japes to be had, plus numerous near-death experiences thrown in for good measure. And also a zombie-powered shower for added cleanliness.

Bong of the Dead is a surprisingly good fun zombie comedy. reminiscent of Last of the Living it finds a welcome niche in the zombie canon. The gore is impressive, there are some great comedy set-pieces and – despite the dubious acting in places – the performances are generally enjoyable. Even the lack of norkage in the shower scene can be forgiven – but that’s probably just because some topless zombie ladies rock up later on.

Gore Score C+
Norks Score C-
Originality score C+
Overall Score C

DVD is available now from Left Films

Zombie Movie Review: Big Tits Zombie 3D

Big tits zombie 3D poster
Wow, naming a movie Big Tits Zombie 3D is about as subtle as crowbar to the eyeball. Even without knowing a single thing about this film you already know whether it’s one you’ll enjoy or one to avoid. Well this review is for those people who expect to enjoy this flick. (Or for those who have never heard of the film but have stumbled over here because they’ve been looking for some particularly ‘specialist’ material in their web searches).

So, does this movie deliver on that title? Well three-quarters of it does, yes.  It has Zombies. It has Tits. And it’s in 3D (although this reviewer decided to experience it in 2D due to the belief that red & green glasses just obscure the ‘quality’). However, if you’re looking for zombies with massive norks then you’ll be sadly disappointed. As will you be if you were expecting big norks on any of the characters. However surely you’re not shallow enough to dismiss a film called Big Tits Zombie 3D just because the norks aren’t as big as the title suggest, are you?

However, moving away from the mammaries (sadly) and onto the actual movie. BTZ3D (actually a more catchy title, especially if you pronounce the ‘Z’ in the American – and therefore incorrect – fashion) follows some slightly exotic dancers who discover a hidden passage in their stripper changing room that leads to a huge scary dungeon filled with occult memorabilia that they accidentally use to summon a legion of the undead that (predictably) go on the rampage.

This rampage is filled with reasonably interesting looking zombies, the occasional short-lived topless wrestle between some of the ladies, and plenty of terrible, terrible CGI gore. Honestly, it’s probably better to watch it in red-green 3D than the standard version as it might obscure some of the dreadful blood-spray effects.

Yes, it’s one for the ever growing zombie sub-genre that is the ‘strippers-and-zombies’ movie. While certainly not matching the heights of the genre highlight ‘Zombie Strippers‘ it certainly beats ‘zombies! zombies! zombies!‘ for enjoyment, although sadly the most fun comes from the ridiculous introduction on the DVD from the movie director – a massive perv that has somehow managed to convince a studio to give him some money and a cast that don’t mind briefly getting their norks out and being covered with blood in order to make a low-budget zombie-stripper movie. Still, that’s probably every mans dream, to be fair.

Gore Score C+
Norks Score C- (sadly)
Originality Score C
Overall Score C

Zombie Movie Review: Cowboys and Zombies

AKA: The Dead & the Damned

cowboys and zombies movie poster

The search for a great cowboy-zombie-western continues. Following the abject failure of The Quick and the Undead and Undead or Alive comes Cowboys and Zombies (also know as The Dead & The Damned); possibly an even cheaper entry into the genre.

Cowboys and Zombies starts off with a big shoot-out in a traditional Western town (complete with the first of many uses of dodgy-CGI blood-splatters) where we find an effeminate-sounding-Tom-Cruise-look-a-like-cowboy-bounty-hunter as he cleans up the town before heading off to collect his spoils. Although already the owner of a tasty-sized cash pile he’s still on the look-out for more, and is directed to a nearby village where a local woman has allegedly been kidnapped by a nasty Indian. Off trots ‘Cruise’ to try to re-capture the lady and claim his reward. However, unbeknownst to him this village also happens to be the location of a pair of redneck yokels that are celebrating their latest find – a mysterious glowing rock in a wheelbarrow. Hmm, what could this mean?

As is the way of things it turns out this rock is actually a magical zombie-egg of sorts that causes anyone who comes into contact with it becomes a member of undead hungry for human flesh! Will Tom Cruise manage to rescue the girl before falling foul of the zombies? Is the story of the kidnapped girl all it was made out to be? Is the Indian in question spectacularly stereo-typed complete with leather waistcoat, long-hair and tomahawk? Well who’s to say.

Featuring some of the best scenes of gratuitous norkage we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing for some time, Cowboys and Zombies is a mixed bag of a movie. The acting for the most part is atrocious (although to-be-honest it’s debatable whether this actually harms or possibly improves the movie) but the zombies creatures are superb (in particular a blind and skinless revenant who stalks her prey by sound alone). The plot is mostly garbage too, and the direction isn’t much better – although if you’re a fan of watching a guy sat in a tree doing nothing for 10 minutes, or wandering through the trees doing nothing for similar periods of time then you’re in luck. However overall there is enough nonsense going on that gives C&Z a certain charm. For example one thing we learnt from this film is that the wild west must have had some great laundrettes; these chaps were spotless all the way from start to finish, regardless of the amount of blood, dirt and zombie vomit they encounter.

Cowboys and Zombies is one of those films you’re most likely to watch with your mates in the ‘you’ll never believe the amount of norkage in this dodgy zombie-movie I saw the other day’ type category. It’s not a great movie – in fact it’s not even a good one – but if you’re a fan of women in corsets stripping off in the woods for no reason whatsoever then you’ll get some enjoyment out of this.

Gore Score C
Norks Score A
Originality Score D
Overall Score C-

Cowboys and Zombies is available now from Left Films

Zombie Movie Review: Stag Night of the Dead

Stag Night Of The Dead PosterUsually the policy here at Devouring the Zombie Films of the Living is to only review movies that are either available to buy / watch right now or at least in the very near future, but in the case of SNotD this has been a challenging policy to uphold. Your reviewer here was invited to the premiere of this movie back in August 2009, and 28 months later (hmm, 28 months later; there’s an idea for a film in there somewhere) we can now put pen-to-paper as this movie is finally getting released on DVD – 9th January 2012 to be precise!

Following a group of stags on a rather ill-conceived (in more ways than one) bachelor party, SNotD ticks all the boxes required of a low-budget zombie movie. Norks, gore and comedy; what more do you need? Well if it’s your sort of thing there is a bit of a story going on here too. In-fact it could be said that there’s almost too much story that it gets in the way of these important priorities.

The characters involved are your standard bloke-y horror fare: There’s the sensitive hero chap, the Neanderthal ‘Alpha-male’ in charge of everything, their stoner mates, the well-meaning if rather boring hanger-on and a wise older dude. Not forgetting the stripper in a red PVC one-piece of course. This group of mates head off to play some traditional stag-do paintball out in the middle of nowhere, although this isn’t traditional paintball; it’s Stags vs. Zombies! Each of the chaps is equipped with a bizarre lightening-firing electric rifle that needs regular charging and they’re sent out on their way to battle the undead, in a controlled and supervised manner of course – well, until the inevitable zombie escape when everything goes to pot.

It’s not a bad little zombie movie overall. In particular it’s actually quite original, something that’s hard to say about most zombie movies these days. The characters are also likeable and interesting enough that you want to find out what happens to each of them, and it’s a pleasant change to find a zombie film with some real villains and not just the zombies themselves. On top of this the makeup effects of the undead creatures themselves is pleasingly gruesome. Sadly, the choice to equip the heroes with electric cattle-prod type weapons means there’s very little in the way of proper gore. No bullets to the head, no gushing flesh-wounds, just a flash of lightning, some shaking and a collapsed zombie on the floor. There are a few real guns involved later in the film but not nearly enough get the blood really flowing.

However the main criticism here is that there really isn’t enough of a film to span out into the full 85 minutes. As a short 45 minute episode it would really pack a decent punch, but as it is it’s spread out over far too long a running time for the material available. This is a slight shame as the premise is a nice idea, and some of the effects are really well done (the zombie-fist-through-the-mouth in particular got a satisfying whoop of applause from here!) it’s just that there were too many slow conversation scenes and not really enough grunt. Still, it’s an admirable film that’s trying to do something different with the genre, and that’s always going to be welcome, plus it has some great set-pieces and when the comedy hits the right notes you find yourself really getting into the spirit of this Zomball experience.

Gore Score C
Norks Score C
Originality Score B
Overall Score C+

Stag Night of the Dead is available on DVD from Amazon and from iTunes from 9th January 2012 from Left Films.