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: The Beyond

Vector Image of zombie movie The Beyond

I’ve been threatening to review this film since I last watched it a couple of years ago. I believe my words were “Stone cold classic.  I find myself watching this every few months, so a post on this soon is very likely“. So here we are, two and a half years later, and it finally makes into the blog as my 100th Zombie movie review. It had to be this Fulci classic really. I was trying to decide if this milestone should be a worthy classic or a trashy mess and with this movie it could be said that this film covers all bases.

The Beyond is a jumbled mess of a movie. The plot makes almost no sense, characters pop up and leave the film without any real rhyme or reason, and people who don’t exist get killed by other characters that don’t exist, which includes a dog that might be a zombie dog, or may just be imaginary. (Either way, he does a good job gorily killing off that young lass). Anyway, a bunch of stuff happens to some people, and then the film starts to get a bit weird, where the population of the world seem to have vanished and the universe appears to start and end within the confines of an old hotel.

If this all sounds like someone has recorded the nutjob dreams of a mentalist then you’re spot on. No film has ever come across quite as akin to a dream state as Fulci’s The Beyond. It’s as if we’re watching this movie through the eyes of Lucio himself after he’s passed out in his hotel room following too much brandy. And congratulations to him for that. Really, why should films have a proper meaning? Why do we need good guys and bad guys? How is the world made any more interesting by sitting through yet another shitty teen horror? There is enough of that produced every single day, so let’s have something bizarre and non-sensical, where random highly gory scenes sit alongside looped images of a woman running out of a house in slow-motion.

Fulci sticks in some of his favourite moments (with no less than 3 eye-gouging removal scenes) and there are some excellent zombie moments in there too (especially the whole hospital scene). And to finish off, he ends the film on one of the daftest scenes he’s ever done, which really says something if you’ve ever seen any of his other movies.

It’s a classic film, because it has something for everyone. Gore, absurdity and rubber spiders. What else could you ask for?

Gore Score B+
Norks Score F
Originality Score A
Overall Score A-

Zombie Movie Review: City of the Living Dead

Vector Image for zombie film City of the Living Dead

AKA Gates of Hell

I guess it must have been about 3 months since I last watched a Zombie film with the Girlfriend (Night of the Living Dead) so that means I get to inflict another one on her. Apparently I am allowed 1 every quarter, so that’s 4 a year. I’ve pretty much given up choosing ones that I think she’ll like and have decided to go with one I know that I like. I’ve been getting the itch to watch ‘The Beyond’ for a while, but realised that I’ve not seen the 1st in Fulci’s pseudo-series ‘City of the Living Dead’ in even longer, so why not start at the beginning then?

City of the Living Dead is without a doubt a classic of the genre. Featuring several highly memorable scenes that only Fulci could imagine, we start off with a daft seance where we see a vision of a priest hanging himself. This is so traumatic it causes the young lass who has seen it to have a spectacular heart attack and die. Actually she was only ‘mostly-dead’ as during her unattended burial she comes back to life. Sadly it’s a bit too late as she’s already 6 feet under, although a passing journalist hears her screams and decides to bust her out of her coffin. Stupidly of all the tools to use to open a coffin I would have thought that a pick-axe would be the most dangerous option, particularly when you’re whacking it into the coffin lid directly over the body’s head, luckily this doesn’t cause any problems aside from adding to the already immense stress the buried alive lass is suffering. (I wonder, had he speared her in the face and killed her, what would he have been charged with?)

Anyway, this journalist and lady decide to head off to the village from her vision to try to stop the dead from taking over the world, which has already started in earnest. People are dying all over the place in bizarre fashion, and the locals aren’t dealing with it too well. One of the obvious highlights of the whole film is the death of a young lady who it hypnotised by the zombie-priest and promptly vomits up her whole internal organs. Yes, hell unleashed on earth is apparently pretty gruesome.

There are several awesome scenes here, (a drill to the head anyone?) and coupled with the fact this film actually has some semblance of plot it’s overall a highly enjoyable movie. Even my Girlfriend quite enjoyed it, which was perhaps the most unexpected aspect of the film, (although the drill scene where the villagers turn on the local nutjob didn’t meet with her approval, but seeing as that’s my favourite part I guess we even out nicely.)

Gore Score B
Norks Score F
Originality Score B
Overall Score A-

Zombie Movie Review: Zombie Flesh Eaters

(In the highly unlikely event that you don’t agree with this review, see my amazing full report on this awesome movie over at our friends Blog of the Living Dead – Zombie Flesh Eaters Review)

Vector image for movie Zombie Flesh Eaters

Vector image for movie Zombie Flesh Eaters

AKA Zombie, Zombi 2

There was an England football match on TV last night so the plan was to watch that instead of our usual Wednesday movie.  However, come the 2nd half we all figured we’d seen enough so I suggested sticking in a Zombie film, just for a change.  I had first dibs here as over the weekend a decision was made to watch Star Wars Episode 1-3 end-to-end, so in order to get my own back I chose to watch ‘The Best zombie Film Ever Made’ aka Zombie Flesh Eaters!

Although I don’t think i’ve seen it since starting this blog it is good to know that having seen so many new Zombie flicks in the last year, (well new to me anyway) my favourite film still holds its own against them all.  It is a full blown classic.

Forget adding Romance, Comedy, Social Commentary, or Satire etc into the plot, this film is just straight forward Zombie goodness.  The music is amazing, the set pieces are great (Zombie Vs Shark?  Get In There!), there is some quality norkage, and lets not forget the most famous Eye Gouging scene ever put to film.  Zombie Flesh Eaters is the ultimate in zombie filmdom.

It is the perfect mix of traditional Zombie legend, 70’s Italian gore and exploitation, with quality music and not a single dodgy CGI effect to be seen.

Perfect from start to finish (and that final shot of the zombies invading NY, with the great radio commentary over the top is the perfect way to finish a film).  Fulci went onto make other classic Zombie films, but none as fantastic as this.  It is just a pity that everyone in my flat fell asleep during it.  Oh well, that means i’ll have to watch it again just for them!

Gore Score B
Norks Score B
Overall Score A+

Zombie Movie Review: Zombie Creeping Flesh

Vector for movie Zombie Creeping Flesh

Vector for movie Zombie Creeping Flesh

Well I suppose it had to happen. A Zombie film that I don’t actually want to watch again. And it’s an Italian one too, which is even more surprising.

So many elements here should work – great gore, a soundtrack by Goblin (even though it is just the recycled Dawn of the Dead track), and the usual Italian zombie nonsense acting that I usually love – but here it is just so, well, boring.

The plot here revolves around some scientific base creating a special gas of some sort that will cause the population of the 3rd World to feast on each other, therefore removing the food crisis and overpopulation over there, but the gas escapes and infects the population. As you’d expect. An interesting idea, sure, but it is just put together in such a boring way.

Some SWAT team members from whatever country this is initially set in (although it must be a rather retarded country as they have hired 4 old sleazy trampy looking men for their elite SWAT team) are dispatched to New Guinea to tackle the zombie outbreak, and are accompanied by a few journalists (who appear more like holidaying students than professionals). For a whole Zombie outbreak you’d have thought that more than 4 old men would be sent in but hey, this film had a small budget. (Their uniforms are just blue denim shirts, jeans and caps after all). To prove that this film is set in New Guinea, every 5 minutes or so some crappy stock footage of monkeys or elephants is inserted with no actual bearing on the story. This footage is of even lower quality than the main film, which makes it even less subtle, and just makes you realise how cheap and empty of ideas this movie is.

Sure there are good parts. Some fantastic gore as only the Italians can pull off (a hand pushed up inside someones mouth and up into their skull, forcing the eyes out their sockets. Best part of the film hands down) as well as the obligatory close up norks shot, but there are so many films that do all this so much better.

I’m just glad that my evening wasn’t totally wasted, because I watched Wrong Turn 2 before this one, and that one totally satisfied my lust for OTT gore.

Gore Score 3\5
Norks Score 2\5
Overall Score 2\5

Feature: An End of Year Cleanup.

Man alive, I don’t half watch a shed load of these movies.  I honestly don’t think i’ll ever get around to disecting each and every one that I have seen since starting this blog, and with so many, many (many) more to be watching I think I shall just draw a line and start afresh after this post.  It is supposed to be a Blog after all, not a review site.
Yes, I have watched some classics that really deserve a full mention, but I just don’t have the time.  I am sure I shall probably watch them all again sometime next year (with the possible exception of Kung Fu Zombie, which was mostly notable for the subtitles that half ran off the screen so I mostly had no idea what was going on.  It was ace though). I shall just give each one a quick summary now and move on. (Hyperlinked titles take you to the actual review, if available)

City of the Living Dead – Classic Fulci, nonsense plot, awesome gore and great music.  4\5
Nightmare City – Radioactive Zombies, with plenty of gratuiotous nork shots, and a dumb\great ending 4\5
Kung Fu Zombie – Terribly subtitled, mostly kung fu film, but worth sticking on after the pub. 2\5
The Last Man On Earth – A classic Vincent Price film.  Apparently they are Vampires not Zombies, but who do they think they’re kidding?  4\5
Living Dead at Manchester Morgue – Fantastic.  As far as Zombies go these are actually bordering of genuinely scary.  Plus all the dubbing of OTT english dialects is amazing 5\5
Plague of the Zombies – Another classic, and a decent Hammer film! (Yes I know, they did good here).  Dream sequence is rightfully a highlight in zombie film history 4\5
Night of the Living Dead 3D – Stupid ‘remake’, with shoe-horned in 3D glasses effect.  Pretty funny though and well made.  3\5
Dead Heat – Buddy cop Zombie move.  Spectacularly 80’s, and pretty funny. Kinda like an 80’s version of Dead and Deader. 3\5
The Beyond – Stone cold classic.  I find myself watching this every few months, so a post on this soon is very likely 5\5
Dead and Buried – more supernatural than Zombies, and I was pretty drunk while watching it so don’t remember much.  Think it was good in a traditional rather than trashy way though.
Shatter Dead – Shot On Video film.  Has a great plot and would be good to see a remake or an update of some sort.  3\5
Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires – A Hammer Vampire film, with some zombies that don’t really do much apart from loiter around.  2\5
Buttcrack – Stupid Troma film.  The main character is hilarious, but when hes not on screen it’s dull beyone belief. 2\5
Zombie Diaries – Interesting idea, but done much better in Diary of the Dead.  3\5
Planet Terror – Spectacularly OTT zombie farce.  Gory, stupid and awesome.  Just how I like it. 4\5

I’m sure i’ve forgotten loads too, but this is a pretty substantial list here.

Right, from now on I’ll have my Laptop next to me while watching them, so I can brain-dump into it after watching the films.  I just hope I don’t spill wine or something into it, as i’ll probably have polished off a few glasses by the time the film ends.  Hopefully I won’t build up such a back catalogue this time.

On another note, I just received a nice Christmas email from eBay, telling me that my copy of the uncut I Spit on Your Grave has been dispatched.  It’s not a zombie film I know, but I thought I should mention that I do watch other types of films.  (Yes, it is a horror I suppose, but I don’t like to stray to far into regular film territory.  I had enough Jane Austin crap-fests to endure when I had a live in Girlfriend, so now I can watch decent stuff.)

So, that’s probably the last post of the year.  I’ll start off the New Year in style I think.  I have a week to pick what to watch.  Hmm, this could take some time…

Zombie Movie Review: Zombie Holocaust

Vector image for movie Zombie Holocaust

Vector image for movie Zombie Holocaust

AKA Doctor Butcher MD
I have chosen another 70’s Italian zombie flick here, mainly from having watched a lot of modern crud and realising the Italians pretty much hit the formula spot on, 30 years ago. (This formula being great non-CGI gore, stupid looking Zombie makeup made of clay and moss, and pointless gratuitous norks a plenty).
Zombie Holocaust seems to be a greatest hits of zombie scenes from this era, except it seems to include plenty of Cannibals, and very little in the way of zombies, which is frankly a tad disappointing.

However, onto the important part : The Gore. There is plenty of cannibal organ munching, some impressive eye gouging, a few severed limbs, some scalping’s, the odd impaling, and a wonderful zombie face vs boat propeller (a film highlight). Top this off with the required nork scenes (painted up with hippy flowers) and you’ve got a pretty impressive film.
Obviously the plot is pure bumf, and just an excuse to get the characters onto the zombie island ready to be slaughtered, but then that’s all you really need. I’ll watch COMMANDO if I’m looking for a film with a decent plot. If it’s nonsense gore and zombies, I’ll take that any day.

Gore Score 4\5
Norks Score 3\5
Overall Score 3.5\5 (Would be a 4 if the zombies actually did something, rather than just stand around groaning).