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: 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: 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.

Zombie Movie Review: Zombie Dearest

Zombie Dearest movie poster

Time to delve into the murky world of the late-night Horror Channel for this little number: Zombie Dearest (2009). Low expectations are needed when undertaking such a mission; low expectations and a resolve of steel to make it to the end of a film that promises so little. Well, we’re happy to report that our expectations were not misplaced; Zombie Dearest is one of the worse breeds of low-budget horror – slow, boring and unfunny.

So what is the film actually all about? Well the basic plot revolves around a young couple trying to repair their relationship. (It appears that getting naked in front of your sister-in-law with a finger-puppet on your ‘unmentionables’ doesn’t do your relationship much good). They go about this marriage guidance in a curious manner; the wife decides to get a job with her ex-boyfriend and the husband decides to excavate the septic-tank at the back of their house. While doing so he excavates a dead body that he accidentally brings back to life by grabbing its ‘jolly wobbler’ while coincidentally wishing he had some help with this excavation malarkey. (Apparently ones desires can be granted by holding onto a dead persons wanger and making a wish – who knew?). This zombie then comes to life and takes over the digging duties while the husband decides to hone his stand-up comedy routine.

Now, usually the final sentence of the above paragraph would be “…with hilarious results!” but not this time. Neither the plot itself nor the stand up comedy (which seems to consist entirely of Caveman jokes) provoke a smile or even a groan of embarrassment. It’s actually hard to tell whether this stand-up comedy is intentionally unfunny or if the script of the movie is the failure.

Whether the jokes are meant to be funny or not is not the only confusing thing about this film. Sometimes the characters act as if they’re terrified by the rampaging zombie day-worker, sometimes they treat the movie as if it’s a comedy and aren’t bothered by the walking corpse at all. There’s no method to the madness here, you’ve genuinely no idea when a scene starts whether the characters will play for laughs or for horror. Not that this matters really; neither genre works to any extent – the comedy is never funny and the horror is never scary. There’s no gore, no jokes, no fun, and it’s unbearably slow to even get going. It’s a shame really, because the plot has some originality in there – creating a zombie by mistake and forcing them to act as a slave while the couple try to live out their dreams isn’t something that has been done before (well, Fido had zombie slaves as pets, so I guess it’s not that original after-all).

This movie also has to be marked down for committing two cardinal sins of horror movies – showing a sex scene where the characters stay in their clothes, and including such as ridiculously cop-out ending. Seriously, even a tacked on Hollywood style happy ‘Coda’ ending would have been better than the garbage route they went with.

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

Feature: Rob Zombie’s Favourite Zombie Movies, Reviewed

Rob Zombie Movie

Back in October 2010, Rob Zombie – Director of Halloween, House of 1000 Corpses and the stunningly brilliant The Devils Rejects (not forgetting his work in the band White Zombie where he wrote the lyrics and fronted the group) picked out his favourite Zombie Movies for the website The Daily Beast. Well, we at Devouring the Zombie Films of the Living don’t like to be one-upped by celebrities, so have decided to see which of the 10 living-dead films chosen by Mr Zombie have already been reviewed here.

Surprisingly two of the list have yet to be featured here, something that we will look to remedy in the near future. However for those interested here is the list, along with our own brief summary and links to the actual reviews here on DtZFotL.

  • Dawn of the Dead (1978) Certainly a classic, and one that brought make-up master Tom Savini into the big time. However, we’d rate this as #3 in the list of Romero zombie movies, behind Day of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead. (Flyboy is just such a damn idiot). It may be sacrilege to admit, but the Remake is actually more enjoyable to watch. (Send your hate mail to the usual address…)
  • White Zombie (1932) – This is the film that we can never get around to reviewing. It’s always “we’ll review this one next time” but then end up watching some trash like Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker instead and utterly regretting the decision minutes into it. We’ll review White Zombie next time, that’s a promise!
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968) - What can be said that hasn’t been written before? Seriously, if this hasn’t been watched then you’ve no business reading this website! Go on, get out of here, watch the damn movie and then come back and apologise! It’s OK to hate Barbra, she’s possibly the worst example of a cliche horror movie female. However don’t laugh (as I did) when she gets punched in the face, that’s probably a bit much. (As a side note, the Tom Savini directed remake is actually pretty good. It got hit pretty hard by the censors so much of the gore didn’t make it in there, but the film itself is well worth a watch. As remakes go it’s one of the better ones by quite a long way).
  • Zombie (1979) – OK, I can forgive Rob Zombie for calling it by the inferior name. Zombie Flesh Eaters is such a better title, surely? Anyway, regardless of the name this is hands-down the greatest zombie movie ever made. Take a look in the side-panel of this blog -> Which film is ranked at Number 1 is the list? Not only at the time of writing is it this masterpiece, but can you imagine anything taking its place in the future. Reading this post in the year 2045? Yup, Zombie Flesh Eaters will still be number one. A zombie fights a SHARK for goodness-sake! We wrote a post about this movies greatness over at our friends Blog of the Living Dead about how great this movie is.
  • Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1973) – Quite a strange choice by Mr Zombie. This movie must be an influence on the Evil Dead, as well as the 80’s comedy Weekend at Bernie’s. That’s a strange combination of films but it gets the idea across. Hanging out with a dead dude in a cabin in the woods. It’s all fun and games until some ‘bad stuff’ happens and the dead return to wreak some havoc.
  • 28 Days Later… (2002) – It actually came as quite a surprise that we haven’t featured this movie here. Yes, we’ve covered the sequel 28 Weeks Later, which is arguably an even better movie. 28 Days Later gave us the return of the Running Zombie (although this phenomenon isn’t really that new. the ones in Return of the Living Dead had a fair bit of pace in them back in the 1980’s). The atmosphere of ’28 days…’ it what sets it apart from the usual zombie-fare. Total zombie apocalypse, deserted streets, abandoned buildings. Urban horror has never been so well made. It does suffer in the second half where the whole tone switches and it becomes a tribute to Day of the Dead, but that can be forgiven as it’s done really rather well.
  • City of the Living Dead (1980) – Another Fulci movie makes the list, and quite a bizarre zombie movie it is. Teleporting ‘ghost’ zombies, vomited entrails and lots of spectacular gore! Part of the loose ‘Gates of Hell’ trilogy, it is probably our favourite of the series (although The Beyond may just edge it depending on how we’re feeling that day). It’s worth checking out purely for the Drill scene alone.
  • Re-Animator (1985) - Proving that the music from Psycho works perfectly in comedy horror movies too, Re-animator is a work of genius. The greatest Mad Scientist movie ever made, which means it is to blame for spawning the multitude of awful zombie experiment movies too (Serum, i’m talking to you.) Its a near perfect film, and we may even get around to discussing the two sequels here at some point in the future too.
  • Zombie Lake (1981) – A surprise choice by Rob here, but by no means a mistake. Just as Zombie Flesh Eaters sits at the top of our Overall Top 3 list, Zombie Lake is top of the Norks chart too. Any zombie movie with an underwater nude volleyball scene involving a bus load of ladies and a lake full of zombies will take some beating. We very much approve of the choice by Mr Zombie. If you only ever watch one Nazi Zombie movie then it should be this one. Hilarious for all the wrong reasons (makeup, continuity, script and effects) Zombie Lake is a masterpiece of exploitation trash. In fact having thought about it this will probably get a re watch this afternoon, what better way to spend a sunny Sunday?

So there you have it. Do you agree with Mr Zombie’s choices? Barring 28 Days Later all these movies are pre 1985, reinforcing our opinion that the greatest zombie movie era was the late ’70’s. All we need now is for Mr Zombie to stop just writing lyrics about the undead and actually make a whole movie!

Zombie Movie Review: Zombie Hunter Rika

AKA Rika: The Zombie Killer \ High School Girl Rika: Zombie Hunter

Poster for film Rika the Zombie Killer

Poster for movie Zombie Hunter Rika

Back to Asia and a follow-up of sorts to the zombie / soft-porn flick ‘Girls Rebel Force‘, Rika is an altogether classier movie – although still has some cheesy nudity to keep the fans happy.

What must be admired about Japanese zombie movies is the sheer bonkers nature of their plot, and Rika is no exception. While visiting her long-lost Grandfather in a backwoods village in Japan with a friend and some other visiting relatives, young Rika discovers that the village has been inexplicably taken over by the walking dead. One particularly close encounter causes young Rika to lose her arm, but fate is on the lass’ side here – not only because one of her companions happens to have stumbled on a disembodied Samurai arm (complete with sword in hand) but also because her demented Grandfather is a master surgeon. So we have Rika and her enormously muscular (if incredibly rubbery) super arm and her troupe of random friends as they go off zombie hunting, tracking down the master zombie and his henchmen to dish out some payback.

What sets this apart from Girls Rebel Force is that this film goes for fun over titillation. Sure, there are some great sleazy moments (3 maids arguing over who has the biggest norks but whipping them out and comparing them) but the overriding essence of this movie is just crazy gory nonsense. Oh yes there is some nice gore going on here – loads of rubbery flesh ripping and head decapitation, blood a plenty and some great makeup too (particularly the suspiciously friendly zombie with the disgusting googly eye!)

It’s trash, it’s stupid and it adds nothing to either the Zombie movie canon, or movies as a whole but by-gum was it a good fun waste of time.

Gore Score B-
Norks Score B-
Originality Score B-
Overall Score B-