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: Zombie Town

AKA Night of the Creeps 2: Zombie Town

This film is showing on Netflix Instant US. Visit Blog of the Living Dead for details.

Vector image for movie Zombie Town

Vector image for movie Zombie Town

So the students in the UK are rioting. Again. Wikileaks is spilling the beans by telling us that all countries really do hate each-other and Sarah Palin still continues to exist. In the midst of all this miserableness there is a need for something exciting, so quite frankly a zombie apocalypse is more than welcome.

Well I say apocalypse but in Zombie Town it’s more of a small-scale outbreak. The clue is in the name I suppose. But hey; a town of zombies, a country of zombies, a planet of zombies, whatever happens it’s pretty much ‘a bad thing’ regardless of population size. That is the situation that presents itself to the small-town mechanic – and hero – of this movie.

A bunch of rednecks in a cabin in the woods (like nothing bad ever happens to people in a cabin in the woods) fall victim to a crazy zombie and their disappearance filters back to the local mechanics. (Yes, people are missing and a car has been found abandoned: call the local mechanics rather that the police!) These chaps head off to retrieve the car and surprisingly run into some of the undead who are up to mischief. When said mischief starts to spread to the local townsfolk it’s up to the remaining mechanic dude and his comedy chum (who seems to think he is Hyde from ‘That 70’s Show’) to come to the rescue and find a cure for all this malarkey with the help of a local scientist lass.

The zombies here are pretty decent, there’s plenty of quality gore on show too, and the script – while a bit too self-aware at times – is all good fun. There’s quite a lot borrowed from Night of the Creeps (enough to get this film released as Night of the Creeps 2 in some parts of the world) such as zombie slugs, but this film reminded me more of Mutant that Slivers or Creeps to be honest. Perhaps it was the scientist trying to find a cure in the midst of all the zombie peril. Maybe it’s just because Zombie Town was on my shelf next to that DVD and I almost picked it out by mistake. Who knows, but that’s besides the point.

Zombie Town was a lot better than I expected it to be, and despite the occasional comedy fail it all turns out quite well, and was a perfectly enjoyable evenings viewing. You’re not going to hate this film at all, but also you’re not going to see anything particularly original or surprising either; just a bunch of people cracking jokes and blasting zombies in the face. And to be fair sometimes that’s all you really need in a zombie movie.

Gore Score B
Norks Score C+
Originallity Score D
Overall Score C+

Zombie Movie Review: Zombeak

Vector Image for Zombeak Movie Review

Another day, another zombie animal movie. But Zombeak is not exactly in the same league as Black Sheep. The special effects team behind this one didn’t work on Lord of the Rings, the locations don’t involve the beautiful sprawling countryside, and the acting, editing, sound effects and vocal overdubs were not done with finesse or experience. No, Zombeak is straight out of the “I’ve got a stupid title, let’s try and bodge a movie idea into it” film school.

Usually when such a film plops onto my doorstep (which sadly happens via my own purchase) it’s a sign that I’m letting myself in for a boring evening’s movie viewing. However with Zombeak this wasn’t the case. Sure, it was a terrible movie by normal standards, but it was made with just the right amount of awful comedy, bad acting and ludicrous plot that it just seems to work.

Some stereotypical Goth Satanists have taken a young blonde lass hostage and are preparing to impregnate her by summoning the spirit of Satan himself into one of their number, who will then ravish the young lady in a reverse-exorcism ceremony. This is being helped along by using a dead chicken and some chanting to summon his horny lordship. While all this is going on, blondie’s fiance has rounded up the town’s single policeman and a local burger-bar manager to try to track her down. They all converge in an abandoned house interrupting the satanic ceremony, causing the Devil to transfer his soul by mistake into the sacrificed poultry carcass. Naturally all hell ensues with the zombie/demon/satanic chicken hunting down all the goths, rescuers and police and turning them in demonic zombies. Obviously there are some survivors of this chickenapocalypse, and it’s up to them to capture the chicken devil and put a stop to all this nonsense before it turns the whole town into zombie demons.

Yes, the plot is nonsense and it’s true that the speech seem to have been added over the visuals from a studio located in a cupboard, but it’s perfectly possible just to ignore such minor issues, especially considering that you shouldn’t be expecting ‘Lord of the Rings’ in a film called Zombeak.

The characters themselves really play up their roles (particularly the ‘crow’ looking goth dude who sadly gets little screen time himself) and the zombie chicken himself is fantastic. Also the direction for such an obviously cheap movie is actually quite polished. It’s not a movie to watch with anyone who’s been brought up with only Brad Pitt movies, but then DTV movies have never really been about all that Hollywood nonsense. At the end of the day if you only watch one zombie chicken movie, well, that should be Poultrygeist. But if you fancy watching a cheaper, less well made one with no lesbian musical numbers then you can do a lot worse that Zombeak.

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

Zombie Movie Review: Attack of the Vegan Zombies

Vector Image for the movie Attack of the Vegan Zombies

It’s a good time for SOV zombie makers to be producing movies. With this invention called “t’interweb” it’s much easier to get the film out to a mass audience of zombie-loving geeks than it was in the glory days of 80’s video-nasties. Now it just takes a bit of self promotion on Twitter and a half-decent website and you’ve got yourself a bit of interest. No need to find distributors, rental stores willing to give up valuable shelf space to a dirt-cheap horror, or even expensive VHS studios to print up the videos. No, now you can shoot any old guff on the cheap, rip it to DVD and spam all over the web to get sales.

It’s no surprise then that A LOT of dross finds it’s way onto the shelves of zombie fans, now the problem is weeding out all the wheat from the volumes and volumes of chaff. Well that’s what I’m here for; sorting through awful movies for the cause.

Now you may have thought from that opening that I was going to be rather negative about this little movie, but quite the opposite. AOTVZ was a great independant movie, and one that makes watching awful films like ZOMBIE NIGHT or EXHUMED all the more worthwhile. Realising there actually ARE good, fun, original zombie movies out there makes a lot of the pain of those movies fade away.

So, what makes this one of the better films then? Well let me synopsize (without spoiling the plot, naturally). A husband and wife are on the verge of giving up their planned careers as wine-growers due to repeatedly bad seasons, when a handy witch casts a spell on the ground using some of the husbands blood in a magic potion which produces a bumper crop the following year. Unfortunately the husband had been on the sauce the night his blood was taken and these vines grow up having a taste for wine…

A bit of artistic licence along the way leads to zombies who thirst for plonk – and more worryingly – any human blood containing said substance, and the couple along with some helpful students have to survive and escape the terrible clutches of the zombies and zombie-vines.

Coming across like graped-fueled Triffids that have been watching THE GRAPES OF DEATH, Attack of the Vegan Zombies is one of the most original takes on the zombie genre I have seen for years. And that is not a back-handed compliment to a film that only has originality going for it, as it also has a genuinely hilarious script, zombies who call out for ‘Wiiiinnnnneeee’ AND some topless lesbians!

Ok it can’t all be good, as the gore factor is pretty low. And we’re let down somewhat by the awful acting throughout, although I think they just adds to the charm really.

So there you go. A great idea that’s really well done and pretty funny along the way. And the idea of zombies hunting the blood of wino’s is pretty scary, cos that makes me a dead man.

Gore Score D
Norks Score B
Originality score A
Overall score A-

synopsize

Zombie Movie Review: Dead Meat

Vector Image for Dead Meat zombie movie
Wow, this review is a long time coming, for it was quite a few weeks back that I first watched it. In order to refresh my mind I spun through it again. And quite an enjoyable second visit it was too.

It was late on St Patricks day evening when I first decided I should watch something Irish to celebrate, despite not being even slightly Irish myself. I’m saving the Leprechaun series for my sister blog , and Irish zombie movies are a rare breed. Ex-celebrity Samantha Mumba performed OK in the pretty decent Boy Eats Girl, despite not whopping out her norks, and Zombie Genocide is still on my ‘waiting for it to appear on eBay or something’ list, so I’m left with Dead Meat, a little SOV number from the early days of modern zombie cinema. Well it was made in 2004 actually, but from the plot, effects and camerawork this could easily have been an 80’s video nasty.

After an initial scene involving a farmer, some mad cows and a bit of bloodshed the film starts proper with a scene stolen from a little movie called Night of the Living Dead. A guy and a lass are driving their old car down some country lanes, when they happen upon a fella who they take to be human at first, but when he starts munching on the chap it becomes evident that he is anything but. The chick makes a dash for it leaving her bloke bleeding in a field and races to an old abandoned building nearby. Here she encounters her next zombie (actually it’s her boyfriend who must have followed her in there) and they get into a right proper scrap.

It is here where the film really takes hold and drags you in. The gore scenes are spectacular, and gloriously old-school in their execution. No CGI in sight, but plenty of red sauce and entrails. Even an eyeball gets sucked out of a guys’ head with a vacuum cleaner, all in the first 10 minutes. It harks back to the glory days of zombie horror, with no pretentious self-awareness, no speedy zombies, no gangs of sexy youths, just this young lady and a strange friendly dude wielding a spade whom she hooks up with early on.

These two survivors don’t hole themselves up in any building and have arguments, oh no. These two race around trying to find safety for the whole film. The meet a few friendly characters along the way, but mostly it’s just the two of them looking out for one another as they flit from abandoned farmhouse to crumbling church, sneaking past zombies and bashing a fair few in the noggin along the way.

For such an obviously cheap film it’s very impressively shot, with great use of lighting and environments, some brilliant music and plenty of early Peter Jackson inspired camerawork. Although it is fairly generic sounding in terms of story it’s a thoroughly enjoyable ride, unapologetically going along with conventions just for the fun of it, as the writer\director Conor Mcmahon clearly knows what works and what doesn’t in this glorious zombie genre.

There are even some great comedy moments, a highlight of which was the sleeping zombies standing in a field who have to be stealthily passed by. (A fabulous scene of which the significance passed me by on first viewing). Oh yes, these zombies are not caused by scientific experiments for once, but from an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease as witnessed in the opening scene.

This is an amazing zombie film, proving that great undead movies can still be made, not by trying to be unique and original but by simply taking the traditional zombie film we all know and love and just reveling in it.

Gore Score A
Norks Score F
Originality Score D
Overall Score A

Zombie Movie Review: Serum

Vector Image of the zombie film Serum
Serum is not a film I had particularly high hopes for. It seemed to be trading on the ‘original’ idea that a mad scientist is researching a cure for some disease or other and has invented a special Serum which he injects into people and strangely causes them to turn into flesh-eating zombies. Surely the filmmakers should be embarrassed about being so unoriginal, but no, they trumpet it, even going so far as to name the film Serum. As I pretty much knew what to expect I decided to try this Live Twitter malarkey while watching it, so I shall base this review on my twitter timeline that night.

# Not watching Zombies of War as fancied non-WWII film. Got ‘Serum’ on instead. Looks ultra low-budget too though.
Yes, I was planning on watching another film, Zombies of War. That too looks pretty bad, but I’m sure I’ll find out just how bad it is when I get around to watching it. Serum somehow was my choice this evening so I went with it. Being low-budget doesn’t always turn me off, provided the ideas are there. Story over technique usually wins out. Serum doesn’t particularly have either.

# Whoah, those are some huge, yet disgusting fake norks right there!
Yes, I believe that the only norks on show in this film belonged to some lass who seemed strangely proud of those ill-fitting humongous implants. Really, does she think they look good? What must she have had beforehand that looked worse? Hopefully it wasn’t a bad illness that required these implants as then I’d feel rather guilty. Well thinking about it I probably wouldn’t feel so bad really, as this lady chose to flop them out at every opportunity as if she’s proud of them.

# The acting in this movie is a step up from awful. It’s just plain old bad. Like Hollyoaks bad.
Hollyoaks, for the uninitiated is a UK teen soap-opera, trading on the good looks of the blonde ladies, and not on the talented acting performances.

# Ah, those huge scary norks are back, fake tan, bikini lines and everything.
Yes it’s strange indeed. How a woman who spends her entire life topless manages to get tan lines is a bit of a mystery. But if horrible nork implants aren’t unpleasant enough then ones with bright-white bikini lines all over them just make them worse.

# Well, 40 mins in and Serum still had my interest for some reason. Not sure what that reason is though, maybe it’s the wine I got on the go.
Yes, I imagine it was the wine. Sure, it was holding my attention, mostly because I was waiting for the exciting gore and flesh-eating.

# This film is like watching one of those cheap tacky US tv soaps. But with a weird blobby zombie.
And man, is this film soap-opera-y. So many relationship stories between the characters that I just don’t care about. Why should I care about who is dating who, and who fancies someone else? Isn’t this supposed to be a Zombie Horror Movie? Sheesh. Just having one single reanimated human with an inflating forehead doesn’t make for great horror, to be honest.

# Sweet christ, does nobody ever turn on a light switch in this film?
Aye, why would you wander about a building following a strange sound into a dark room and not turn the lights on? Worried about your carbon footprint? Well worry no more, you won’t be wasting any more electricity after being devoured!

# “what you saw outside the diner wasn’t Eddie. Not anymore…”
There was a script in this film. Pretty cheesy and obvious, but a script none-the-less.

# To be honest, I’m not bothered about Corey Haim. Now, if that Sax player from Lost Boys died then that’s something else…
I believe at this point, towards the end of the film when I realised not much was going to happen I got a bit distracted and my mind wandered.

# Ok, ‘Serum’. Like Re-animator, but just the boring walking about bits, not the comedy, gore or well made bits. Oh well, I’ve seen worse.
So there you go. Serum steals from both Re-animator but also from crap TV soaps. If that sounds like your bag then give it a go. Just don’t expect any originality, acting, or proper zombies for the most part. It does have some gross boobs though.

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

Zombie Movie Review: The Vanguard

Vector Image of the movie Vanguard

Wow, this is a proper exciting idea. Imagine a film with hundreds, nay thousands, of the undead roaming around a near deserted planet hunting for human flesh. Whatever buildings remain are crumbling, and wild animals roam free. there are huge explosions as the left-over power stations give way, and in among all this apocalypse a lone survivor hides out in a massive self-contained bunker with all the remaining technology around him helping him to keep alive and outwit the living dead.

Now take that lone guy out of this exciting scenario and dump him in an empty forest that suffers from an overabundance of lens filters. Replace his awesome bunker with a wooden barbed-wire fence tied to some trees. Substitute the cool explosions with some leaves. Next take the thousands of undead zombies and exchange them for a couple of blokes in white contact lenses and black pen scribbles on their faces. Finally, remove all the excitement and replace with a huge dollop of mind-numbing boredom. Yup, that’s The Vanguard.

What could have been an interesting take on the ‘Last Man on Earth’ scenario is diluted down to simply being 1 guy running around in the woods talking to himself, with the occasional bit of camera-trickery gore. (You will see the guy throw a wooden spear, then it will cut to a ‘zombie’ with this spear in him, or you’ll see him hitting an out-of-shot ‘zombie’ and some blood will spray into shot).

After about 20 minutes of this excitement with pretty-much no plot at all the fun doubles, when a second dude turns up and starts hanging out with the first guy! Ooh! Still nothing much happens apart from these 2 blokes running around in the woods.

Finally, the thrill factor is turned to maximum-overdrive levels when not 1, but 2 more people turn up! That’s 4 people running around in the woods!

There is a little bit of in-fighting (but not enough to get too excited about), then more of the ‘Last Man on Earth’ plot gets ripped off, and then the film ends.

My god, was this dull. There may have been a bit more going on towards the end than I remember, but I was so numb after the first hour that I pretty much lost interest all-together. I have sat through boring zombie films before, but nothing like this.

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