Archive for zombies

Dead Air Ep 100 – The Blind Dead Series

Posted in Dead Air Podcast, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by splatterpictures

It’s time. Dead Air straps you down, pulls out your eyes and nails headphones to your ears. It’s episode 100 of the Dead Air Podcast and for this very special occasion we go back to the first Dead Air Wes and Lydia ever recorded when they covered the 1972 classic; TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD.

Oh, but seeing as how it’s a special occasion we’re not just retreading old corpses. This is a film discussion done right. We talk not one, not two, not three, but, FOUR fucking movies. The Entire Blind Dead Franchise. Return of the Blind Dead, The Ghost Galleon and Night of the Seagulls!

Plus, the origin of the Dead Air Podcast, behind the scenes information as we give you the complete oral history of how it all got started. Including the never before released pilot episode of Dead Air. It’s nearly four hours of fun and it starts right, fucking, now!

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A Little Bit Zombie (Who brings hooker boots to a weekend at the cottage?)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by splatterpictures

Horror and comedy is a tricky formula to get right, many times there can be too much of one and not enough of the other. Recently I was able to check out the Ottawa premier of A Little Bit Zombie, a slickly written and well produced little-big Indie-horror, home grown (well my home) in Canada.

The film was directed by Thunder Bay, ON native Casey Walker, and brought to us by Cave Panting Pictures and the producers list is as long as my arm because the film was crowd funded which explained to me how it looks so good and managed to snag fantastic actors.

The story is about a soon-to-be-married couple named Steve (Kristopher Turner) and Tina (Crystal Lowe) Tina is the typical perky but overbearing control freak that is dreaming of the perfect wedding while Steve is the mild mannered HR representative that is just looking forward to a quiet and stable life. They head on up to a weekend vacation at the cottage with Steve’s sister (Kristen Hager) and her husband Craig (played by a very buff looking Shawn Roberts). Unknown to the foursome is that a short distance away two professional Zombie hunters, Max and Penelope (Stephen McHattie and Emilie Ullerup respectively), are taking down a small outbreak while one of the undead are bitten by a mosquito. The insect becomes infected and makes its way to the cottage that everyone is vacationing at.

Steve gets bitten by said insect and slowly starts to become infected. He retains his memories and personality, but starts to grow pale and lose the feeling in his body. Of course there is the unfortunate fact that he is unable to eat anything without projectile vomiting. With the hunters hot on his trail and his wedding just a week away, Steve and his family try to cope with the reality that in order to stay sane he’ll have to consume the brains of living humans.

The writing in this film is fantastic. Dialogue comes at you fast with several jokes firing off at once with a lot of added physical comedy. All of the actors play their parts well and it was a special treat to watch Stephen McHattie play out the grizzled zombie killer. Crystal Lowe also steals every scene she’s in as the bride to be trying to do right by her man. There is a scene where she tasers a potential victim and cheerfully remarks on how cute her pink stun gun which had me laughing pretty hard, but the best line comes out of Shawn Roberts: “Who brings hooker boots to a weekend at the cottage?”

I would say that on the horror versus comedy scale it’s leaning far more into the comedy area than anything else. The horror elements are there and, as a director, Casey Walker’s influences can be seen quite obviously (especially Evil Dead), but for the most part I would say the horror is pretty tame with nothing more or less grotesque than some of the mainstream comedies out these days. There are some great special effects though, and all in all, it was decent but I could have done with a bigger body count or a few more scenes with zombies.

A few story elements I found somewhat confusing. One of the hunters, for example, uses a seemingly magical orb to locate the undead but as far as I remember they don’t really go into any detail about where they got it or how it works. Emilie Ullerup’s character Penelope also seems to believe that Steve is somebody who could eventually find a cure for the zombie plague since he can resist the effects somewhat, yet they never really explain how he is able to. Also I couldn’t help notice that the plot had similar elements to that 90’s comedy My Boyfriends Back which was essentially about a fun-loving but zombie afflicted teenager who still retained his mental capacity. Now that I think about it, I might be the only one who remembers that dumb movie.

Walker said before his film started that this was his love letter to the Zombie genre and it’s apparent that he is a lover of the genre, but I would have to say this works far more as a comedy than it does a horror. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does go to show how precarious a balancing act horror-comedies are. Without the solid group of actors carrying this film it would have probably ended up being fairly forgettable with too much comedy and not enough gore.  I say check it out when it hits DVD shelves this August

“So, what is that exactly?” “Zombie tracker-orb-thing-plot device. Don’t question it!”

History of the Zombie Genre (Part 6: The Video Dead)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2011 by splatterpictures

Holy shit, if there is one thing I love, it’s doing these horror showcases. If there is one thing I hate, it’s getting a horrible virus because of them. It seems that while searching for images for the latest (and final) entry into the History of the Zombie Genre, I came across the fucking apocalypse of viruses and my old computer is down for the count. Fear not loyal readers, I have returned with the help some friends and am ready to re-write our final stop of this magical journey!

I’d like to take a minute and talk about the 80’s. What a weird and wonderful time. Business was booming and, as such, a lot more risks were being taken. Not to mention the fact that studios like New Line Cinema and things of that ilk basically built their companies off the backs of horror movies. The 80’s in horror saw the slasher boom and everybody was trying to create a mascot akin to Freddy Krueger or Jason Vorhees. Some where pretty good… most were pretty bad. A very rare few are so bad it becomes good.

Horror movies of this era saw a lot of distribution through minor labels of much larger film studios that existed to provide low risk, low cost, and decent reward to the studios. Universal, MGM and the suddenly-relevant New Line Cinema were all pretty big on this practice and released all kinds of stuff direct to VHS. Yeah, that’s right, VHS! Some rare studios managed to remain independent for the most part, but a lot of them were swallowed up in the 80’s by big business. On the other hand, there are select studios that flourished because of this new fangled direct to video market.

The 80’s saw a lot of great stuff for the Zombie Genre too. My original plan was to review the 1980’s classic Return of the Living Dead seeing as there are few films that encompass the decade in the genre so perfectly. It has everything; the music, the comedy, the origin of the Zombie battle cry “Braaaains”. It really is great example. That being said, I feel like we can do better. I think that it’s time to dig deep, and I mean –really- deep and talk about something that isn’t so “classic”. I’m talking about a film that, to this date, has never been released officially on DVD. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about The Video Dead.

The Video Dead was released in 1987 and distributed through Embassy Home Entertainment, which was the direct to video portion of Embassy Pictures. Don’t worry if you never heard of it. Basically, it was an independent studio that was eaten alive by larger studios in the late 80’s. If memory serves me (and even if it doesn’t we live in the information age), it was taken over by MGM, or New Line Entertainment. Embassy Pictures had a decent run, but eventually went the way of a lot of studios from the old days of movie making.

It was written, directed, and produced by Robert Scott. You know this sort of hat trick happens a lot in films, especially from new directors. When a director really goes all in, they have nothing really to fall back on when things go bad. Without a doubt, and despite –anything- Robert Scott could ever say, the Video Dead was his baby. I’m sure once that baby came out of the delivery room, Scott was tugging at his shirt collar wondering just what the fuck happened.

So what’s it about? Well let’s see here. Basically, the film starts out with this writer who mysteriously gets delivered a television. He’s cranky and wants to be left alone, but he reluctantly takes the TV and goes back to his writing. Things get weird when the TV magically turns on by itself and it only seems to play one thing: A zombie movie called “Zombie Blood Nightmare”. Unknown to him, the zombies actually are aware that they are in a TV and know the way out. He goes to bed and is none the wiser that a dazzling array of 80’s blue lighting effects enable the Zombies to escape and march upstairs.

The next day the deliverymen return and discover the writer’s body. Here’s the weird part: He’s sitting in a chair when the door opens with his throat slit and wearing a party hat. I remember seeing that and saying “okay weird. Why did the zombies dress him up festively?” They didn’t eat him clearly, but they slit his throat? I was pretty confused. Here’s the deal: The zombies aren’t really the zombies people are familiar with. In keeping with the spirit of the 80’s they basically say “Fuck you” to all the typical rules.

Most films had used the basic idea that if you destroy the brain you kill the zombie. I don’t know if it was because everyone in the 80’s had a desire to move forward, that this became a trend in film. For the most part if you ask someone how to kill a zombie they’ll say “Shoot em in the head!” Well that won’t really work with these, and here’s why. Some loose narrative in the story tells us that these zombies want to be alive and hate to be reminded that they are dead. A big symptom of this is a fear of mirrors. So if you want them to leave you alone, show them a reflection of themselves. Also, forget head shots. That won’t work unless you can somehow convince them that –they- are dead which you do by inflicting enough damage to their bodies. Perhaps the most ridiculous method is if you trap them in a place where they can’t possible get out, they’ll eat themselves. Lastly I’ll mention that if you show even the slightest fear, they’ll attack you. In other words, if you are nice to them and treat them as if they are alive, they’ll like you.

There you have it, the weirdest rules I’ve ever heard. Not only are they weird, they also don’t work. After the writer is killed, a brother and sister move in and start preparing the house for their parents who are away on business. They find out too late that the television that was left behind is haunted and there are still zombies out there. An old Texan comes along who knows all about the TV and the zombies. He tells them these rules and then takes the boy to go hunting for them. Well… I just don’t even know what to say. None of the rules even work and it makes me wonder what the point was in bringing them up at all.

Oh, and I normally don’t give spoilers about the ending but (SPOILER ALERT) do you want to know how to trap them from a place where no escape is possible? Just take a minute and think about a place like that. Bottom of the ocean? Stuck in a cave with a huge boulder at the entrance? How about shoving them in a bank vault? All pretty good ways, right? Well you don’t need that, just lock em in the basement for five minutes. That’s right, the basement. Nothing special about it; just a wooden door with a lock and it works.


One scene that I found pretty funny was when these two random people get killed, this old lady goes to check on her laundry and one of the undead somehow got into her washing machine. Next thing you know the old woman’s legs are just sticking out of the washer while it does a spin cycle. Good stuff.

The acting in this movie is hilarious and the writing is pretty bad. The special effects are decent enough but I can’t help and wonder just what all of the actors were thinking. Actually forget the actors. What was the director/writer/producer thinking?

This movie is a straight up horror comedy but the parts that made me laugh weren’t any of the gags but more so the silly plot and ridiculously bad acting. I recommend it to anybody who has a sense of humour about horror films in general. Like I said before, it’s never been released on DVD but for some reason Netflix has it. Check it out.

Well that finally does it for our little look back through the history of the Zombie sub-genre of horror. Also, I know you’re thinking “But what about the 90’s or the 2,000’s? Well you have a valid point, there were a lot of them in that 20 year span. Those two decades saw the birth of the “Fast Zombie” as well as a boom in the zombie culture in general. Especially the last ten years, thanks in no small part to some great authors. Not only that but it saw a few remakes of Romero’s work as well. Right now the word Zombie has a lot of marketability again which is both good and bad for fans. It’s good because it means a lot more content coming from different sources. It’s bad because a lot of that content is god awful.

I’ve decided to cut it off at the 80’s to allow myself some breathing room because, frankly, a lot has happened in those years and I’m a little zombied-out. Don’t worry too much; this topic will be resurrected again very shortly. Until next time, happy hunting!

History of the Zombie Genre (Part 5: Zombie)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2011 by splatterpictures

It goes without saying that people watch movies to be entertained… escapism and all of that business. When it comes to horror films, people have many individual reasons to like them. A lot of people like to be scared when they watch a movie, others just find them to be easy to digest in terms of cinema. As an adult, I don’t find a lot of horror movies scary anymore. When I was a kid, though, I was disturbed more times than I wanted to admit. These days I still can get freaked out by some pretty unassuming movies, but that is probably because of my over-active imagination.

There is always something I want to recapture as an adult when I watch these films, but it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it is. Well, loyal readers, we can thank our trip through the history of the Zombie genre on a little self discovery. Today while we’re visiting the 1970’s, I’d like to stop by and say hello to Zombie.

I remember so vividly the first time I ever saw this film. I had been invited over to a friend’s house, who had in turn invited others over (one of those situations where every seat on the couch is full with a few people sitting on the floor). One of my chums owned a video store and always had something with her. To this day, I have no idea if it was planned to watch that movie the entire time or not, but they suggested we watch this movie called “Zombie”. I was down; I’m always down. I had no idea that that this movie would end up being my favourite zombie movie by a wide margin and is still one of my favourite films of all time.

Before I get too anecdotal, I’ll try to lay down some of those facts people are usually looking for. Zombie was released in 1979 in Italy under the title Zombi 2. Yes it’s a sequel. To what movie you ask? Well it’s a sequel to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which was just a sequel of Night of the Living Dead. Yeah, you heard me right; it’s a sequel to a sequel. A sequel that I might add has nothing to do with Romero’s “Dead” series. When Romero’s Dawn of the Dead hit Europe in 1978, it was edited and had the title changed to Zombie (don’t ask me why, I have no idea). So in 1979 an Italian made sequel called Zombi 2 was made. (Let’s not forget that fact that in the U.K. it’s called Zombie Flesh Eaters!)

The film was directed by Lucio Fulci who had a somewhat lackluster career up until this point, but that all changed when Zombi 2 hit the market and blew up. The film was well-received by audiences and made a ton of money, so it eventually was released in 1980 over in the west (with the new title of just Zombie).

Well what’s it about? Basically some harbour Patrol in New York City finds a drifting yacht with big fat zombie in it. After the zombie is killed, an investigation follows and it turns out the boat belongs to the father of a woman called Anne Bowel (Tisa Farrow). He left behind a note that says he was at the island of Matool that is cursed with a strange disease. Following this lead, the Bowels and a news reporter head to the island to investigate. They meet more characters along the way to fill out the cast and presto! You have zombies on a tropical island.

Now, everyone who knows this film knows that there are certain scenes that are nothing short of iconic. This is where everything ties together with watching Zombie with my with friends all those years ago. First, there is a zombie fighting a shark. No I’m not kidding, and it’s a real tiger shark. A man named Ramon Bravo was a shark trainer and Lucio had him dress up like a zombie and battle the creature under the water while they filmed. The zombie bites the shark the shark rips off the zombies arm. It’s truly an epic battle of legendary proportion. I will say this the first time my mind was officially blown. I had –never- seen anything close to that in a zombie movie. I remember one of my friends yelling “zombie shark” and the prospect of a shark being undead blew my mind further!

Another iconic scene is pretty nasty. A character named Paola (Olga Karlatos) experiences a slow and gruesome death where her eye is slowly run through with a broken sliver of wood. Honestly, her eyeball gets closer and closer and when the wood finally punctures it, I remember every one of my friends cringed and yelled “Oh man!”Such a great reaction.

The last thing I’ll mention, just as an aside, is the music.
There is something about the theme of this movie that I just love. The creepy synthesizer that builds and builds while the zombies start to march, whenever there was more zombies the music matches the intensity and when the music is at it’s height you’re fucked; they’re everywhere. I remember walking home from watching this and trying to desperately remember the theme because I thought it was so cool.

This movie is seriously all about being cool. It has a lot of great moments that were enhanced when I watched it with a large group of people. It really reminded me why we watch scary movies. It’s all about that moment that everyone can share together. When I first saw the zombie fight the shark, or the woman get her eye poked in, I had no idea I was witnessing some of the most iconic moments in a horror film; I just knew they were great. A lot of times I’ve heard people wonder “Oh god who’s idea was it to do that?” Or “Oh that’s sick, why would they do it?”

Maybe if I first saw this film by myself I wouldn’t have remembered it as much…or maybe wouldn’t have even liked it as much. In short, loyal readers, horror movies are best shared. Writers and directors of horror films (the good ones) try to recreate these moments that everyone can collectively say “Oh my god, I’ve never seen that before.” Those of us who get it, will get it, those of us who don’t, are excited for Transformers 3.

There’s one more stop on our look back at the history of the Zombie sub-genre. Stay tuned!