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Movie Review: The Rezort

the-rezort

Released: 2015
Genre: Horror
IMDB Rating: 5.1 / 10

Those people who know me will testify to just how much of a wild child I am – staying up till 11 on a work night, playing music with swear words in them when an innocent child with ears like a bat might be within hearing distance, wearing mismatched socks and not giving a damn. I’m sure you get the picture. So my epic badassness decided it wanted to live on the edge, and nothing gets the adrenaline pumping quite like a 5.1 IMDB rating – it really could go either way. Will this be one of those hidden gems that you recommend to friends, or will it just be one of those hit and miss movies that bores you a little but you committed so you watch it to the end anyway?

Usually with this sort of thing you need to waste a good 40 minutes before you find out if you made a bad choice or not, but as soon as I heard British accents I knew we were going to be OK.

Ooh gurl, this my jam!

Ooh gurl, this my jam!

The Plot

10 years ago the world was ravaged by a virus that turned the dead into voracious killing machines. Unlike other zombie apocalypses where mankind just kinda lies down and takes it a British stiff upper lip led the world as it fought back and contained the outbreak, and now the world is more or less zombie free and back on its feet.

The only place that still has zombies in abundance is the Rezort, a holiday destination on an island off the coast of North Africa where those survivors who need to let off some steam can put the undead back in their graves in relative safety. Melanie thinks that this is just what she needs – still haunted by the war against the undead and the loss of her father, perhaps blowing some human corpses to smithereens will help give her some closure.

Of course there are still wackos in the world, and some believe that just because something’s a reanimated corpse with a desire for human flesh and the capability to bring about our complete and utter annihilation doesn’t mean it doesn’t have rights, so rightly or wrongly they aren’t the greatest fans of the Rezort. When one of them manages to hack into the Rezort’s servers and deactivate all of the security on the island all of the tourists must once again fight for their lives – not just against the zombies, but also against the Brimstone Protocol, which will see the island incinerated to stop a further outbreak in just a few hours.

Melanie’s gonna need to get a whole lotta closure if she’s gonna make it off the island.

Bitch please, I don't have time for you to shoot me.

Bitch please, I don’t have time for you to shoot me.

The Visual

Ever since The Walking Dead revitalised the genre zombie movies have become a dime a dozen, and more often than not get it very wrong since surprisingly few seem to understand that your zombie movie lives or dies on how good your zombies look and behave. Thankfully the good people behind The Rezort knew what they were doing, and the zombies are nicely put together and behave in a suitably menacing manner. The movie also goes for the ‘the fresher they are, the more they can move’ approach, which means that you only really need to make the older zombies look bedraggled while contact lenses and some fake blood will suffice for the newer ones without detracting from the overall scare factor.

Also, if they ever salvage the island from the Brimstone Protocol, I want to buy it. I imagine the property price will be quite low and the scenery is rather majestic.

Nothing compares to a child's smile.

Nothing compares to a child’s smile.

The Feelings

Satisfaction.

The Rezort is never going to be considered a classic, but what I liked most about it was its fresh approach to the zombie apocalypse – very rarely in these movies does mankind ever win the battle, let alone turn it into a thriving business opportunity. I can see something like this happening just as much as I can imagine there being zombie rights activists in the event of an outbreak.

In the midst of the general mayhem and panic the movie also manages to throw in some surprisingly good social commentary, which I commend since this is what drove a lot of zombie films, particularly Romero’s, in their nascent years. What it deals with is very timely given a number of disasters currently besetting the world without making the movie become preachy, which isn’t always the easiest balance to strike.

I vote that we just hand the zombie genre in its entirety over to the Brits to handle from here – when they do it, they just do it right.

My Final Rating7 / 10
Buy The Rezort at Amazon.com

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Posted by on October 2, 2016 in Movie Review

 

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Movie Review: 1313: Giant Killer Bees!

1313-gkb

Released: 2011
Genre: Sci-Fi
IMDB Rating: 2.9 / 10

You know what, I’m not gonna rip this movie a new one right off the bat. I knew what I was getting myself into when I started watching it – I did review 1313: Cougar Cult back in the day, after all. Having seen Cougar Cult I knew that there wouldn’t be enough budget to pull off special effects (because all of the money goes into young men pulling off their clothes instead), but a little part of me wanted to see how they were going to (try and) pull off giant killer bees. Well, the long and short of it is they couldn’t, and they didn’t.

Me every second of this movie.

Me every second of this movie.

The Plot

Somewhere in the Caribbean there is a mystical research facility that is an abandoned hospital for exterior shots and someone’s house for interior shots. Here, in a high-tech breakfast nook/laboratory, research involving dipping bees into liquid is ongoing. But what research could you possibly be doing that involves dipping bees in liquid, I hear you ask? I can’t believe you couldn’t figure it out – they’re trying to make a more hardy bee that won’t die off simply because humans insist on killing the planet! These bees will be able to stand up to anything – pollutants, harsh weather, shirtless men everywhere, you name it.

Unfortunately Professor Generic wants results faster than the facility’s three-man team who never do any actual work can manage, so he sends in Too-Tight Wifebeater to spike the bee’s liquid with some other liquid. On the plus side this does make the bees more robust, but on the down side it also turns them into giant angry zombie werewolf vampire bees. These new and more deadly bees have a craving for man flesh, and upon stinging the more rugged and virile specimens these very same men become mindless drones so quickly that it blows all their clothes off.

The team must obviously do all it can to stop the bees from spreading from the island (?) and infecting other bees, and to do this they either lay around on beds in nothing but their underwear feeling themselves up, or in the shower feeling themselves up and never actually using soap and I fucking give up trying to make sense of what the hell was happening here.

The Walking "we weren't hot enough to get into actual porn" Dead

The Walking “we weren’t hot enough to get into actual porn” Dead

The Visuals

Visuals? What visuals?! Let’s keep this nice and simple:

  • If you want to watch an actual sci-fi thriller, don’t watch this. It’s not at all thrilling and there’s no actual sci-fi to it.
  • If you want to watch something that’s homoerotic, don’t watch this. It contains neither homos or anything erotic.
  • If you want to watch good-looking men running around in their underwear, don’t watch this. Rather just watch porn.
  • If you want to watch something with a strong environmental message, don’t watch this. For all the prattling on about saving the environment I’m fairly sure you could’ve drained the Hoover Dam for all the unnecessary showering that was going on.

Also don’t watch this because watching this is physically very difficult since it has a very strange colour balance and everything looks like the cameraman got bacon grease on the lens and couldn’t be bothered to wash it off.

Have to have the occasional bee to ground the movie in its title.

Have to have the occasional bee to ground the movie in its title.

The Feelings

Pulsating rage.

Again, perhaps I’m not really in a position to be angry – I should’ve known better about what I was doing to myself, or avoided watching the movie altogether. But I’m angry anyway!

There really is no point to this film – its plot is flimsy, the acting is horrific, the production values are non-existent, and for the one sad attempt at a sex scene you could’ve cut the sexual tension with a dessert spoon. The action, for lack of a better term, is also very short-lived – 1313: Giant Killer Bees! is only about 80 minutes long, but at least 40 minutes of that is taken up by men feeling themselves up or walking around a deserted castle (for reasons that well and truly escaped me).

Don’t ever watch this – not ever.

My Final Rating: 1 / 10
Buy 1313: Giant Killer Bees! at Amazon.com

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Posted by on September 18, 2016 in Movie Review

 

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Movie Review: Zoombies

Zoombies

Released: 2016
Genre: Sci-Fi / Horror
IMDB Rating: 3.6 / 10

Sometimes life gets a bit busy and you just need a good (bad) movie to settle your spirits. The kind of movie that’s cohesive in its stupidity, that laughs at how seriously it takes itself, that stands steadfast in the face of its own inadequacies. Zoombies, dear reader, is sadly not that movie.

This is The Asylum’s answer to Jurassic World in a very loose sense (in that it references Jurassic World and has a park filled with lots of animals), and one would think that that kind of ripoff combined with zombified animals would result in a fantastic hour and a half, but it doesn’t. Something’s gone horribly awry at The Asylum of late where they just can’t seem to pull off making a good bad movie, despite having all of the ideas and none of the budget necessary to make such things happen.

Tis a pity.

Anyone who wears a side scrunchie in this day and age is just asking for trouble.

Anyone who wears a side scrunchie in this day and age is just asking for trouble.

The Plot

Welcome to Eden, the largest and most spectacular wildlife park on Earth! Home to every kind of creature imaginable, Eden is the last refuge for many species on the planet, and will soon open its illustrious gates to the public so that all can admire Mother Nature’s glorious bounty.

That’s what Dr Ellen Rogers is hoping for anyway. Having inherited the park from her grandfather she’s quickly come to realise that it’s rather pricey to maintain a place that has fully thriving replicas of every ecosystem on the planet (because it’s not that difficult to build an artificial savanna next to an artificial polar region), so she’s getting ready for the grand opening where thousands upon thousands of children can get up close and personal with nature with their grubby, sticky little fingers. Of course, such grand openings are never without a few teething problems…

The teething problem being a virus that started out in a monkey enclosure and is rapidly spreading across the entire park. The virus kills its host and then re-animates them, turning once adorable koalas and majestic giraffes into salivating, blood-thirsty predators. It’s up to Dr Rogers and her team of useless interns, inept security guards, and untrained scientists to try and isolate the virus and discover a cure before it can reach Eden’s aviary and infect the birds, who will surely spread the disease across the world.

Doctor, his test has come back positive for death!

Doctor, his test has come back positive for death.

The Visuals

The visuals in this movie are quite astounding, because when you start watching everything’s quite good. I was sitting there thinking that The Asylum had really upped their graphics budget and updated their PCs to run on at least Windows 98, so it was all rather promising. Sadly that promise quickly evaporated as the animals became more and more blurry and poorly animated as time wore on.

Now I understand that it must be difficult, as an actor, to react to creatures that will only be added in in post-production, but even this isn’t enough of an excuse to subject an audience to some of the things that I had to see. I do not believe, for instance, that you can simply bandage up a leg and walk off an injury that was caused by an elephant standing on you. I similarly do not believe that if you were violently thrown from a car that rammed into a tree at full speed that you would walk away with nothing but one or two grass stains on your pants. I’m no zoologist but I also do not believe that a giraffe has the kind of teeth that it would need to viciously gore and mutilate a human as this movie would have you believe.

These are just my opinions as a movie watcher and a specialist in absolutely nothing, but I feel that they are important nonetheless.

The Jungle Book's King Louie had seen better days...

The Jungle Book’s King Louie had seen better days…

The Feelings

Excitement which rapidly gave way to boredom.

Zombified zoo animals. Just ponder that for a moment – let it roll around in your mind and conjure up spectacular images of horror and madness. That’s what Zoombies should’ve been, but wasn’t.

I was really excited when I heard this movie was coming out, but watching it what struck me the most was just how amateurish it was (even by the low standards set by The Asylum). Most of all it committed the one cardinal sin for movies in this genre – it wasn’t funny. If you don’t have the money to make it serious then you have to camp it right the way up until the audience member’s brain is so assaulted by what’s on the screen that they have no choice but to enjoy it. That never happens, and what you’re left with is 90-or-so minutes of “actors” plodding along desperately trying to find their way to some kind of plot.

My Final Rating: 3 / 10
Buy Zoombies at Amazon.com

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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Movie Review

 

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The B-Horror Blog: The Lost Review – Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity

Before I decided to stop the B-Horror Blog in favour of A World of Weird I had the idea to do a themed set of movie reviews entitled ‘Month of the Epically Titled B-Movie!!’. I didn’t manage to make any great progress, but while I was rummaging around the old site I found the one review I did complete, and it’s just been sitting there since June 2013.

And so I present to you The B-Horror Blog: The Lost Review, unedited, unchanged and unread for all these years.

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slave-girls-from-beyond-infinity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year of Release: 1987
Genre: Action / Sci-Fi
IMDB Rating: 4.3 / 10
Level of Awful: Medium
Breast-O-Meter: 2 /5

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

In the wild, wild world of b-movie watching, these are the kind of movies that we all search high and low for. While its title makes it a perfect candidate for my Month of the Epically Titled B-Movie!!, it has so many other things going for it as well. Made during what I like to think of as the golden age of the b-movies, Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity has just enough naked women, balanced out by the perfect level of nearly naked women, cheesy 80s lasers, even cheesier 80s robots, spectacularly cheesy 80s monsters, and a plot that’s completely ludicrous and over the top but somehow, in the context of the movie, makes complete and utter sense. Definitely worth a watch if you’re in the mood for some of the best cheese the 80s has to offer up.

That’s her investigator / robot seduction outfit.

That’s her investigator / robot seduction outfit.

Daria and Tisa are the absolute best of friends. They do, after all, have a lot in common: both of them are women, both of them like to run around in bikini-esque prehistoric outfits, and both of them are slaves being transported across the universe in a giant starship that’s shaped a little bit like a water pistol. Not content with the life of an intergalactic slave, the two of them decide to make a daring escape by overriding the starship’s entire mainframe by creating a minor electrical fault in their cell. They then overpower the ship’s entire crew of 2 guards and make their way onto one of the ship’s escape pods. Thankfully, being scantily clad slave women also comes with an inherent knowledge of how to pilot small spacecraft, so they manage to escape from the ship with relatively little difficulty and a lot of button pushing. Of course, a tiny escape pod isn’t going to go very far, and they’re in a relatively underdeveloped part of the universe that doesn’t have a lot of planets in it yet, so they’re going to have to come up with a plan quite fast if they have any hope of survival.

Capturing women really builds up tension in the neck.

Capturing women really builds up tension in the neck.

Unbeknownst to Diaria and Tisa, in the deepest, darkest reaches of space there lurks a planet inhabited solely by robots and suave Hispanic types in leather pants. The girls come across this planet while making their daring escape, and are forced to crash-land on it after the planet sends up a tractor beam that pulls any craft towards it far too quickly to make a safe landing. After coming ashore in their now-wet bikinis, they come across the house of Zed, a man in pants so tight you immediately know that he has no aspirations so far as fatherhood is concerned. He seems nice enough – he gives them clothes so that they’ll be more comfortable, and offers to lay out a beautiful dinner for them and two other people who have mysteriously crash landed on the planet. This is where they meet Shala, a rather bitchy woman who sees no reason to be polite to her saviour, and her brother Rik, who seems to think that something more sinister is going on on Zed’s planet.

Sensible weapons for women in sensible outfits.

Sensible weapons for women in sensible outfits.

Turns out that Rik might just be right. It would appear that Zed has a little hunting hobby, but he isn’t after any of the strange creatures that live in the alien jungle outside his sumptuous mansion. Oh no, Zed’s after humans that he can mount on the wall in his man cave. Since Daria’s brain seems to be the same size as her breasts she figures this out quite quickly, and the girls have to do some quick thinking so far as shedding their clothes, finding weapons, and booby trapping the jungle are concerned. Of course, there are other problems to consider, such as how one best goes about sexually distracting a robot, and exactly where the lines between simulating sex to fool someone and having actual sex start to blur. When it finally comes time for the hunt Daria and Tisa will have to contend with the island’s mutants and zombies, temples that distort the fabric of time and space, and Zed and his crew of two bickering androids, if they’re ever going to have a hope of escaping in the other escape pod that Zed has so lovingly laid out with zebra-skin seat covers.

These are the adventures of the slave girls from beyond infinity, and I defy any of you not to watch it!

LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Maniacal robots are easier to outrun if you’re only wearing a bikini.
  • Sometimes the only thing standing between you and freedom is stealing a starship.
  • You can have more than one person in solitary confinement.
  • It’s always best to find a planet with a breathable atmosphere before you jump out of your spaceship.
  • Most modern spaceships come with pilot ejector seats.
  • The inhabitants of most planets have emergency clothing supplies in the event that bikini-clad ex-slave girls in need of a fresh wardrobe crash-land on the surface.
  • Animals who get killed by hunters simply didn’t want to get away.
  • There is no aphrodisiac stronger than the rush you get by bludgeoning a small animal to death.
  • Even androids aren’t above being sexually bribed into disobeying their orders.
  • Slave girls from beyond infinity travel across the universe and do battle with all manner of intergalactic foes so that other slave girls from beyond infinity will never have to know what it feels like to go without a good rogering.
  • Chasing bikini-clad women through the jungle with a laser bow-and-arrow really just boils down to a clash of philosophical belief systems.
  • Women with small breasts are no good at storing maps in their bras.
  • Women have this funny way of knowing when the normal rules of time and space don’t apply to a particular holy site.

SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY TRAILER

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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in Movie Review

 

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Movie Review: Dead Rising: Watchtower

Dead RisingReleased: 2015
Genre: Action / Horror
IMDB Rating: 5.3 / 10

I would like to preface this review by saying that I haven’t played any of the Dead Rising games in any way outside of running around a little bit when I stole my brother’s Xbox controller, so for me this movie had to stand on its own merits.

I guess the warning signs were there. I mean, Jesse Metcalfe is the main actor. The guy that got middle aged women and confused teenage boys’ hearts racing in the early years of Desperate Housewives is now meant to fend off a zombie apocalypse. Now I can suspend belief like it’s no one’s business (it’s how I’ve managed to enjoy the Resident Evil movies for as long as I have), but this just didn’t do it for me. Not the actors, not the plot, not the zombies with the dazzling blue eyes, nothing.

Join the war on clowns.

Join the war on clowns.

The Plot

Wikipedia tells me that this takes place between the second and third Dead Rising games. This doesn’t aid me in any way, but hopefully it provides some of my dear readers with a little context.

There have been reports of a zombie outbreak in Oregon. On the scene is Chase Carter, a Youtube vlogger with a more impressive-sounding title who’s there to document the ongoing evacuation of civilians. Unfortunately things go awry when it becomes apparent that those infected with the zombie virus but manage it with the use of Zombrex, which will stop them from turning provided they take it once every 24 hours, have become resistant to the medication and begin turning at a rapid rate.

In the chaos Chase is separated from his camerawoman Jordan, and instead must rely on badass Crystal and a few-sandwiches-short-of-a-loaf Maggie if he wants to make it out of the quarantine zone alive. Along the way weapons will be crafted, friendships forged, and tough questions asked. Questions like, ‘why does Crystal’s Zombrex seem to work just fine?’, ‘what does the army aim to achieve with this quarantine?’ or ‘why don’t more middle-class office workers become gang lords when the apocalypse happens?’

Chase "Butter Fingers" Carter

Chase “Butter Fingers” Carter

The Visuals

Bless them they tried.

Crackle clearly had some money lying around that they could throw at this movie because visually it isn’t a complete dud, it’s just not quite on point.

The main thing that tells you that a zombie is a zombie, for example, is that it has dazzling blue eyes, the like of which, under different circumstances, any teenage girl would positively swoon over. There’s the occasional missing arm or stock-standard missing cheek, but it’s nothing really special.

To put it another way: the zombies aren’t the Walking Dead variety that’ve been out in the sun too long, nor was there enough of a budget to go absolutely bat-shit crazy with everything like Resident Evil: Retribution did. The whole thing’s a cut above the average zombie b-movie, but not by very much.

Stop production of the sequel!

Stop production of the sequel!

The Feelings

Like being on a rollercoaster but without the adrenaline rush.

The problem with Dead Rising: Watchtower is that it firstly feels too long. It didn’t need to run for two hours, and cutting out about 30 minutes of unnecessary padding would’ve done wonders for its pacing. Throughout the movie’s run-time there are some initially very exciting moments which then drag on far too much to the point where they became painful.

We must also call the casting choices into question. Poor Meghan Ory was out there carrying this whole movie on her own, because the Good Lord knows that Jesse Metcalfe couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag.

Then we get to the weapons, and from what I gather crafting these is a big part of the game series. Now, having not played the games I might be unfamiliar with a gameplay mechanic that makes the playable character drop and lose his weapon after three minutes, in which case this movie makes perfect sense. If such a mechanic does not exist, then I want to know why Chase can make admittedly awesome weapons, kill at most three zombies with them, and then lose them and have to resort to running around and kicking the damn things a lot. This became a very frustrating part of the experience.

Lastly, plot development. A very common occurrence is for a movie to have too little plot for its total run-time. Not so with Dead Rising. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a film with quite so many different plot points, backup plans and shifting ideas as this one had. And when you consider all the different things it was trying to cram in and the movie still managed to feel laboured, then you know it isn’t going to be a fun run.

It’s by no means the worst zombie movie out there, and it’ll probably do far more for fans of the games than it did for me. As a standalone movie, however, it’s all just a bit sub-par.

My Final Rating: 4 / 10
Buy Dead Rising: Watchtower on Amazon.com

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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Movie Review

 

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Book Review: Surviving the Evacuation: London

Surviving the Evacuation

Author: Frank Tayell
Genre: Horror
Published: 2013

OK, so I know I haven’t exactly been prolifically active with this blog, but this book has done so much for my faith in the horror genre in general, and the zombie sub-genre specifically, that I felt that I had to hop on and say something about it. If you’ve ever taken a quick stroll through Amazon’s Kindle page you will no doubt know that there’s no shortage of authors trying their hand at writing a zombie novel. Everything’s ‘zombie’ this and ‘outbreak’ that, but, until recently, every book I had read in this sub-genre amounted to little more that absolute shite. In my humble opinion the reason for this was that the books focus too much on the actual zombies. Anyone who has seen a zombie movie (or at least an episode of The Walking Dead) can testify that zombies are horrible because of the way they look, and it’s very difficult to transfer that visible on-screen horror to printed text. Praise be to Frank Tayell for doing something different and, in the process, writing a zombie novel that actually works and is a pleasure to read.

The Plot

An outbreak has occurred in New York. An outbreak of what no one’s entirely sure, but whatever it is it’s making people rather corpsey and nibblish for human snacks. That doesn’t really do the description of the outbreak in this book any justice, but it is fairly standard zombie outbreak material that’s been written better than most that I’ve experienced.

The story itself centres around Bill Wright, a Londoner who broke his leg on the day of the outbreak and is subsequently home-bound. As the man partially behind a childhood friend turned minor politician, Bill was instrumental in laying the foundations for the Evacuation – the mass movement of every British citizen living inland to the coastal regions. From there small agricultural enclaves would be built to make the British Isles self-sustaining before eventually beginning a push back inland to reclaim territory ceded to the undead. Yet the British public know nothing of the push to reclaim land. Every night all the news channels keep stating is that there has been no outbreak of the virus in Britain or Ireland owing to the military shooting down every plane and the navy sinking every ship that dares to approach the islands.

This obviously isn’t true because Bill can see the undead outside his window. Not many at first, but the numbers ebb and flow as the days go by. His friend had sent someone to rescue Bill from his house when he was unable to join the evacuation due to his leg, but with the escort lying dead in the road with a bite mark to his neck Bill has to make another plan.

The book follows Bill as he tries to make his way through London with a bad leg, very limited supplies and hordes of the undead at every turn and, along the way, finding out why the evacuation plans and contingencies failed.

The Writing Style

Surviving the Evacuation: London is told entirely from Bill’s perspective through entries in the man’s journal. This is actually an incredibly effective means of conveying the story because it means that you are 99% sure (barring some deus ex machina intervention) that Bill is going to live so long as there are more pages in the book. Why this works is because, rather than spending every moment wondering whether Bill’s gonna live or not (I can’t be the only one that does this in zombie movies/novels) you can actually focus on what is being said and picture what’s going on around the main character.

This style of writing also allows for the plot to be greatly scaled back. Rather than most zombie novels I’ve read, where the mission has been the glorious salvation of mankind and the reclaiming of Mother Earth as our own, the novel takes you through the day-to-day struggles for survival from just after the initial outbreak to a far more capable and competent Bill later on.

One thing I must also give Tayell credit for is making the novel somewhat self-aware of its own genre. I have seen countless zombie movies and read a fair number of zombie novels ranging from spectacular to downright abysmal. Yet no character in any movie or book I’ve experienced has actually been aware of other such movies or books. This is usually why the audience always knows about the ‘shoot for the head’ rule but for the characters this becomes a steep learning curve that involves a few people getting eaten until the rest of them get it right. Bill knows about this sub-genre (going so far as to read some novels during his isolation to try and glean survival tips from them), which is refreshing. It is also why I was prepared to overlook what is normally regarded as a cardinal sin in the genre – referring to the zombies as zombies.

The only minor niggle with the book is that it could have done with another round of proof reading to tidy up the grammar and a few spelling mistakes (I’m a Grammar Nazi and things like this matter to me), but none of it is so bad that it makes any of the text unreadable or the meaning obscure.

The Feelings

The great thing about this book is that it highlights, in the unlikely event that the zombie apocalypse does happen and assuming you make it beyond the initial outbreak, that surviving isn’t really as easy as the movies would have us believe.

Consider most zombie movies. To start off with someone ALWAYS has a large arsenal of guns, both legal and illegal, so once they have learned the shoot-for-the-head rule the chances of them being taken down is drastically decreased. A group will also have at least one  person with some knowledge of any conceivable mode of transportation, so moving around by car, boat, or plane is possible provided they can find such a mode of transport. After the initial supplies have run out they will also happen upon either some lovely pasture where they will continue to live of the Earth’s bounty or come across the hoard of one of those extreme couponers who happens to have seven years-worth of dried food just waiting.

Bill has none of these things. As a paper-pusher for a minor politician in London there was little need for him to keep a small armory in his bedroom cupboard. With his broken leg he can barely make it down the stairs from his flat, let alone find a tank and drive it. And one thing that did make me think – he knows that Britain must have farmland, but he hasn’t a clue where it is or how to grow anything on it. He also isn’t sure about things like how long water can be kept standing in a bath tub before it becomes unsafe to drink. These are things that movies and novels in this genre don’t usually address, but when the focus shifts from Resident Evil-style mass-zombie slaying with your army of clones (and don’t get me wrong, that was awesome!) to trying to find a source of drinking water that will last beyond two days the situation suddenly seems that little bit more desperate and, oddly enough, relatable.

Equally, as the descendant of good Scottish stock, what the bloody hell are you meant to do when you can’t brew a single cup of tea or find a single sodding biscuit to go with it? How are we meant to continue as a civilised society when things like that are taken away from us? Surviving the Evacuation: London dares to ask these difficult questions…

In short, if you’re in the mood for a very decent zombie novel that explores the survival of the everyday man (or you’re one of the many authors who have so brutally let me down in the past and would like to see how to do things the right way) then I strongly suggest giving this book a go.

My Final Rating: 9/10
Buy Surviving the Evacuation: London at Amazon.com

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Movie Review: The Returned

The Returned_Poster

Released: 2013
Genre: Drama / Horror
IMDB Rating: 5.9 / 10

Every now and then a movie comes along that looks so interesting that you can’t help but want to watch it. When it comes to zombie movies I would say I’m somewhat of a Romero-esque purist: zombies must be slow-moving, incapable of higher thought, attack in hordes, and kill mercilessly and without humour. Then again, I loved Warm Bodies (even my unromantic soul was not untouched by the fact he came back from the dead for the girl he loved), so I thought I’d give The Returned a try. Sadly this is a very good premise that is terribly executed, and you are soon wading through so many different forms of social commentary that you’ll need to put on some boots for fear of getting bogged down in the mud.

Exposure to The Returned on the average human participant.

The results of exposing the average human participant to The Returned.

The Plot

The world has been ravaged by a viral outbreak, turning those exposed into mindless, murderous legions of the undead. Unlike most movies that follow this basic premise, however, The Returned takes place after the outbreak in a world that is remarkably more controlled and sanitary than most other movies or The Walking Dead would lead us to anticipate. Clever little humans have managed to extract a cure from the initial batch of people who were infected. This protein, if injected into recently bitten individuals who have yet to completely succumb to the infection, will block the virus from wreaking havoc on the body. These people are known as the Returned.

The movie follows the story of Alex, a Returned music teacher, and Kate, a doctor who has helped pioneer how the Returned are dealt with medically. So long as Alex takes his daily injection, the virus will have no effect on him and he can lead a normal, if somewhat muted and indie, life. The two of them are as blissfully happy as any morose couple can be, and Kate doesn’t care if her boyfriend carries in him a virus that, if activated, will lead him to see her as a light lunch. Oh, what a time to be alive!

But not everyone in the world is as accepting of the Returned. Since the virus cannot be cured, only kept in check, every Returned is a carrier for the virus. Equally, should one of the Returned forget to take their medication, the virus will activate and possibly cause another outbreak. Because of this, some members of society view them as ticking time bombs and want to have them eradicated.

The problem is that these people might have a point – the protein used to create the injections can only be sourced from an already infected individual. Since the world has been so good at making sure the virus doesn’t spread, the source of the protein is running dry and the stockpile of injections running low. With scientists unable to create a successful synthetic protein, time is running out for Alex. What follows is a torrid dramatic escape from the law as friendships and relationships are tested, parents are driven to the limits, the darkness that lurks in all of us is examined, and the valid question of whether or not fat people should be allowed to thrive in society due to the fact that they may be visually unsightly is raised.

My face throughout the greater part of the movie.

My face throughout the greater part of the movie.

The Visuals

Since this is, at least nominally, a zombie movie, one would expect to be inundated with gore and people whose faces are falling off. Sadly, you won’t be. If you see two people actually turn into zombies it’s a lot, and even then there’s no real attempt at make up. All you’re going to be treated to are extras with a bit of fake blood thrown willy nilly across their bodies while they themselves make overly forced jerking motions at the camera. Not impressed movie, not impressed.

But why sacrifice the on-screen joy that is a well put-together zombie, you may ask? That’s because the film feels that it’s far more important that you be treated to nearly two hours of dull, muted scenery. I feel the zombie apocalypse must have wiped out the power grid and we’re still trying to recover, because the mood lighting in this film is something else entirely. Then there’s the endless barrage of apartments and homes with utterly impractical furnishings and even more dull colour palettes, a hospital that is so dark and gloomy it’s remarkable that anyone recovers, and an inexplicably damp parking garage that really should have its plumbing checked.

What I assume the makers behind this gem were going for was atmosphere that elicits a sense of gloomy despair in its audience, but all it actually manages to achieve is an ongoing feeling of mind-numbing boredom.

Shoot the movie! Kill it!

Shoot the movie! Kill it!

The Feelings

Frustration. Frustration is the main emotion that this movie will bring out in you. The reason for that is, at its core, the movie has a really good premise that could have been put to far better use. There could have been a little more action, characters that you actually gave a crap about, all those things. Instead you’re subjected to being hit by social commentary in the same way Miley Cyrus comes in like a wrecking ball.

Now, any zombie movie worth its salt is going to explore some social issues. All of Romero’s movies did, but they’re nice and subtle so they don’t bog down what’s going on, and instead you walk away and start to think about what you’ve just watched and slowly explore the film’s inner nuances. Not so with The Returned, oh no. There’s the stigma surrounding the Returned and how, since the virus is totally controllable thanks to modern medicine, they shouldn’t be treated differently to any other human being since it can only be contracted through contact with infected blood. Not through hand holding, not through sharing the same eating utensils. You get the picture. And then, to rub salt in an already exposed wound, the Returned have to come out to their friends and family. More open-minded individuals will realise that this doesn’t change who their loved ones are, and some have always secretly known. Others will believe it’s a curse from God and that they are somehow being punished. Again, you get the picture.

I’m not a bigot, and the stigma surrounding people with HIV and the ongoing battles against homophobia are by no means little issues that don’t deserve our attention, but this movie doesn’t deal with them in any useful way. They’re just kind of thrown out there while the tepid action tries to plod along to the finishing line. If you’re going to build your story around these kinds of issues, you actually have to do something with them that doesn’t end down the barrel of a gun.

But we’re not done yet. With all of these dull and useful things going on, The Returned then attempts an ending that could only have been inspired by The Mist. Really now. What the people behind this movie have done is bad enough, but please don’t try to drag other, much greater, movies down with you. AND THEN, and this is my ultimate pet peeve and the breaking of an unspoken rule for the genre, the characters actually refer to the Returned as ‘zombies’. You just don’t do that. That’s Zombie Movie 101 knowledge right there.

The only way I can think to succinctly describe this movie is this: it feels like it was made by people (and we have all met these people) who only read books from the canon of English literature and only watch pretentious foreign arthouse films – not because they want to, but because that’s what pompous people are meant to do. In summary, don’t watch this – it fails in its attempt to be a thoughtful social commentary, and abysmally as a zombie film.

My Final Rating: 2 / 10
Buy The Returned at Amazon.com

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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in Movie Review

 

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