Thursday, June 28, 2012

Living Zombies or Dead Zombies: What do you prefer?

The most common debate about zombies these days is the “fast zombie vs. slow zombie” debate. I’ve seen this debate last for days in various online forums and groups. People will debate this topic endlessly, but a zombie-related topic I rarely see discussed is whether or not zombies are scarier as supernatural “living dead” creatures or as regular people gone insane.

The Romero-style zombies are obviously the best example of the supernatural undead. In all of his “Living Dead” movies, the zombies are literally the walking dead. They are recently deceased people who have risen from the grave to feast on the flesh of the living. There’s definitely a creepy element to these things. Seeing a person with rotting flesh stammer (or run) toward you would without a doubt be a terrifying experience. It would also be an extremely emotional experience if that zombie is someone you knew and loved in life.

A recent trend, however, has been to do the zombie movie with “living zombies.” 28 Days Later really brought this version to the mainstream audience. These zombies aren’t the walking dead. They are simply people who have been infected with some sort of virus that makes them act like zombies. Some other movies that use this are The Crazies and 28 Weeks Later.

Zombieland is a little vague on this issue. In Zombieland, it’s never quite clear whether these are people driven insane by a virus or literally people who have risen from the dead. I personally lean toward the “they’re alive” angle for this movie.

The scariest thing about the “living zombie” is that it feels far more realistic. There are no supernatural elements that you can shrug off as magic. These are just people who have been infected with a virus and are now trying to kill you. That can be damn scary.

And when you factor in family and friends, it takes it to another level altogether. Your spouse is infected. Should you kill her? What if there’s a cure tomorrow? Without the supernatural element, putting a bullet in your best friend’s head would be far more difficult.

For me, I’m undecided. I don’t know which is scarier. If it were to happen in the real world, I think the risen dead would be far more frightening, just because it would change everything about the way we see the universe. But as a movie, I the “living zombie” might be a little scarier, because it takes place in the real world. It is something that could happen.

So what about you? When you go watch a zombie movie, are you freaked out more by a living person with a “zombie virus” or by the actual walking dead?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

French Horror

Written by: David Roden

Over the last few years I have seen some truly incredible French horror films. Something more than the paint by numbers type films American audiences seem to love so much. I don’t want to watch some tame, formulaic film where the hero wins and the opposing force gets its just desserts. Here are a few that are a must see for horror fans.

1. High Tension (Switchblade Romance)- Alexandre Aja’s first big hit, this movie really caught me off guard. In the beginning of the movie our killer gets head from a severed head. It was here that the film had my attention. This film is violent and shocking. Cicile De France was fantastic…and not just because she is beautiful, she was also a bad ass. When is the last time you saw a woman beat a man’s ass with a piece of wood with barbed wire wrapped around it?

2. Inside- Show me your favorite Home Invasion film and I will top it with Inside. Home Invasion films are always pretty rough, French Home Invasion films are brutal. This one follows a pregnant woman who is due the next day (X-mas) and a very disturbed woman who tries to cut out the unborn child with a very large pair of scissors. If that description alone isn’t enough to make you want to go see this immediately, then you should stop reading now and go watch a Pixar film.

3. Martyrs- The crown jewel of French horror as far as I am concerned. This film will take you on a journey that transcends the torture porn genre and takes you to places you never thought you’d go. It is almost impossible to pinpoint what I liked most about this film because it is everything I have ever wanted in a horror film minus a sense of humor. If you are laughing during this for any reason other than how shocked or uncomfortable you are, seek help. This film is much more than just violence for the sake of violence, it’s all purpose-driven. It all means something and that brings this film straight to the next level. Don’t turn your brain off for this one, you’re going to need it.

Don’t get me wrong, Americans do produce great horror films but few of them have the balls to go where these guys took me. I will forever be a fan of French cinema.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Zombies Will Never Die

Written By:
Brandon Hale

Are you tired of the zombie craze yet? Are you looking forward to seeing this fad pass on by? If so, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you… It’s not going to die.

Sure, we may think the craze is dead from time to time, but it always comes back from the grave, just like the zombies the movies are about.

Since George Romero brought the modern ghoul to a mainstream audience back in the late 60’s, people have never completely escaped them. They go away for a while, but they always come back. They come back because people always welcome them back.

Modern audiences will always be fascinated by the living dead because that genre has managed something unique. It has successfully blended the supernatural with the feeling that “it could happen.” For most movies, that is an either/or scenario. You can have the supernatural or you can do something that feels like it could happen in the real world.
Zombies have managed to do both.

People are drawn to zombie movies because the idea of a virus we can’t control feels possible, and that makes it scary. The fact that they’re “living dead” has become secondary to the idea that a plague could wipe out human civilization. People seem less interested in the zombie and more interested in the apocalypse. That’s why movies like 28 Day Later and The Crazies were so popular. These “zombies” were very much alive… just homicidal.

And, of course, once something feels possible, we can easily put ourselves in that situation. It takes some effort to imagine what you’d do if a werewolf started stalking your hometown. But it’s not hard at all to imagine what you’d do if the entire world just went to hell. Many people have developed their own zombie survival plan. There are books about it. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) even did an article about it. I’ve never seen the CDC do anything about protecting yourself from a vampire, but they jumped right on the zombie apocalypse craze.

They did this because zombie survival is very similar to surviving any major catastrophe, so preparing for a zombie apocalypse actually prepares you for most emergencies. That is precisely what makes a zombie movie exciting to the movie going public. With a zombie movie, you’re not just watching other people survive a horrible ordeal. You’re surviving it with them. When a character has to shoot his zombified mother, you’re asking yourself if you could do it.

Yeah, the popularity of zombie movies is finally going down, but it won’t be down for long. The Walking Dead is coming back for another season. Another network is actually developing a Zombieland series. “Zombie walks” are growing in popularity across the country (I’ve been in two myself). Zombies are now horror icons. They’re right there with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, Frankenstein, and masked mass murderers.

So I hope you enjoy a good zombie story because they’re a permanent fixture on the horror landscape now. I suspect zombie apocalypse movies will be around until…


Until the apocalypse happens.

Mum And Dad (NetFlix Review)

Written by: David Roden

So here’s a fun one, Mum and Dad is the story of a young woman who has been kidnapped by a sadistic family. We really get the full range of shock and disgust with this one. There were parts that were done well and many parts that weren’t.

Right out of the gate I was bored and a little annoyed by how hard it was to understand them. That might be the American in me. I really wasn’t expecting much and I was surprised. This is not what I would call a good movie but it did creep me out.

I always have respect for a film that can shock me, but there is so much more to filmmaking than that. So they nailed that part of it, what about the rest?

My first issue was something I’ve seen way too many times: victim gets knocked out and the scene fades out as she loses consciousness, the next scene starts when she wakes up. Is there no other way to film this? Maybe follow the assailant around a bit to see some more nastiness, just a thought.

Secondly, they kept showing us footage of planes leaving from a close by airport. In fact, they showed it so frequently I was just about convinced she would be escaping by plane. I get the symbolism, but honestly it was too much. We get it.

On the positive side of things, there was one character interesting enough to keep me watching. The father was by far the most foul and vile of the group, but I enjoyed almost every moment of him on screen. Something about him reminded me of Bob Hoskins only much more sinister.

The rest of the family just didn’t do it for me. The daughter was a brat and more than annoying, the mom wasn’t too bad but still lacking, and the slow son made decisions that just didn’t really make sense to me. As for our survivor girl, if she had just played the game things would have come out much better for her. I understand panic, but I don’t understand not thinking at all the entire time.

If you want to see what your gross-out limit is, go for it. If you want something more than shock cinema, go watch The Woman. Here’s to hoping this director will give us a more mature product on his next try.

Netflix: 3.1/5

David: 2.5/5

Friday, June 8, 2012

Vampire Movies with Bite

Written By: Brandon Hale

In my last article, I talked about how modern vampires have been “de-fanged.” There are, however, many movies (old and new) where vampires still act like vampires.

This is my list of vampire movies that still have some bite. The vampires in this list don’t sit around crying about their horrible lives. They’re still villains. They’re still monsters. And since we’re all horror fans here, I think we can agree that it’s fun to see a monster act like a monster.

One note: These aren’t reviews of the movies themselves. This is simply a list of movies with vampires that are still… well… scary.

Fright Night

Jerry Dandridge is quite possibly the coolest vampire to ever roam the night. His charm, humor, and sadistic nature make him an absolute joy to watch… but you definitely wouldn’t want him as a neighbor. I personally recommend the original Fright Night. I didn’t hate the remake, but (in my opinion) nobody can top Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandridge.

The Lost Boys

“Now you know what we are. And now you know what you are. You'll never grow old, Michael. And you'll never die. But you must feed.”

When David said this line as he wiped the blood from his mouth, you could see one thing in his eyes: Joy. These guys love being vampires, and Kiefer Sutherland portrays that wonderfully.

From Dusk Til Dawn

If you’re looking for monstrous vamps, this is the movie for you. They are hideous, evil, and they come in hordes. The vampires may not be scary in the traditional sense, but they are without a doubt fun to watch.

‘Salem’s Lot

Yes, this is a TV movie. Yes, it can be incredibly cheesy at times, due to its age. Yes, the lead vampire (Barlow) is nothing like he is in the book.

But when that Glick kid floats up to the window and starts scratching and whispering, “Let me in,” you have a truly chilling vampire scene. And when the vampire is sitting in that rocking chair, saying, “Teacher,” it’s impossible to deny the creepy-factor.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

This movie does have the standard romantic angle (which I don’t like; it’s not in the book at all), but the vampires in this movie are classic. Dracula is really the least scary vampire in the movie. His “brides” are eerie and when Lucy enters her crypt carrying a baby… that is a genuinely scary movie moment.

That’s five classic films where vampires act like vampires, but this list is far from complete. There are many, many more. In modern films, they’re harder to find, but they’re definitely there (30 Days of Night comes to mind). If I missed any that you feel should definitely be included in this list, feel free to list them in the comments section (or even on the Facebook page). We’re definitely interested to know what you consider the best vampire movies that still have some teeth.

Image source:

Friday, June 1, 2012

How Anne Rice Accidentally De-fanged the Vampire

Written By: Brandon Hale

Let me start by saying I loved Interview with the Vampire (both the book and the movie). I think Anne Rice told a great story and gave us an interesting twist to the vampire mythology. Lestat is a great character. Louis is genuinely interesting as a vampire who hates what he has become, especially considering this was first published back in 1976.

She didn’t invent the idea of a vampire who is regretful and sympathetic, but she almost certainly brought the concept to mainstream audiences. Back when she wrote that book, vampires were generally seen as monsters to be hunted down.

The trouble came when Interview with the Vampire was became a huge hit.
It’s much like Night of the Living Dead. It was a movie that wowed audiences. It was creepy in tone and had a genuinely good story. It was so good, in fact, that it spawned an entire genre of films… and now, several decades later, we have movies about hillbilly zombies on the moon.

That’s the curse of having a successful story. It gets copied, and those copies are rarely as good as the original. As the genre grows, the quality always seems to diminish. And really… that’s perfectly fine. Sometimes the bad rip-offs are incredibly fun. They don’t make the good movies go away… they just accompany them.

With Anne Rice, however, it was a little different. She didn’t spawn a new genre. She redefined a character type to mainstream audiences. While it’s not her fault at all, the result is that we now have a new popular view of what a vampire is supposed to be.

And it’s a view I’m not particularly fond of.

Louis was a great character because he was a freak. He was the only vampire that hated being a vampire. Every other vampire in that first novel loved it, even Claudia. Now, it seems like most modern vampire stories have to have a troubled vampire protagonist that’s a “good guy.” This good vampire has become the norm instead of the exception.

The pinnacle of this progression is Edward Cullen. Let’s think about this… Edward has unlimited strength, he never dies, and he never harms a human being… and yet, he’s always upset about his “horrible” condition. The worst thing Edward has to live with is the fact that he can’t just give in to his every craving. Well, guess what? We all have to deal with that, but we don’t get to be immortal super heroes.

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m ready to see old fashioned monstrous vampires come back to the forefront. There are some great movies – old and new – where vampires are still monsters. You just have to weed through an ocean of “pity me” vamps to find them.

With that in mind, in my next article, I’ll be giving a list of vampire movies that still have some bite. If you have any you’d like to see added to that list, feel free to suggest them in the comment section of this blog.

Author’s note: I don’t think there was actually a movie about hillbilly zombies on the moon, but now I kind of want to see one.

These undead being have been proven to have much bite...