Film Review: Train to Busan (2016)

Also known as: Busanhaeng (original title), Invasion Zombie (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay), New Infection: Final Express (Japan – English title)
Release Date: May 13th, 2016 (Cannes)
Directed by: Yeon Sang-ho
Written by: Park Joo-suk
Music by: Jang Young-gyu
Cast: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Su-an, Kim Eui-sung, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee

Next Entertainment World, RedPeter Film, Movic Comics, 118 Minutes

Review:

“Sorry, but you’re infected.” – Seok Woo

Apparently, this South Korean zombie film came out with a lot of praise and fanfare but I guess it just passed me by. That’s honestly my fault, as I barely pay attention to modern horror, as it just hasn’t been up to snuff for about two decades now, despite the occasional gem.

Well, this is one of those gems and I even liked it considering that I am most definitely exhausted with zombie flicks since they have legitimately monopolized the horror space in more recent years after vampire films cooled off and The Walking Dead became the most watched thing on television.

This film’s plot is pretty damn simple; a dad and his daughter get on a train to take them across South Korea just as a zombie outbreak happens. While on the train, people get infected and all hell breaks loose.

As the film progresses, we go from survivors trying to stay barricaded in train cars with zombies just a car away, then we get a great sequence in a train station and eventually, back on another train, as the few people left try to escape the hell that is chasing them.

As far as zombie movies go, this one, by the end, is one of the most emotional and heartbreaking ones I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you get to the climax and don’t feel like you’ve been mule kicked in the heart, you might not be human.

Additionally, the character arc of the little girl’s father in this is fucking superb. The guy goes from being a selfish coward to a real hero, after being challenged by his own daughter and another passenger that continually risks his life to save this sap, even after he nearly sacrificed the guy and his pregnant wife.

This was just a solid, fast paced movie from beginning to end and I couldn’t believe that it was nearly two hours as it flew by like it was only 80 minutes.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other foreign zombie movies with fairly fresh takes on the genre.

Film Review: Spookies (1986)

Also known as: Twisted Souls, Goblin (working titles)
Release Date: March, 1986 (Paris Festival of Fantastic Films)
Directed by: Brendan Faulkner, Thomas Doran, Eugenie Joseph
Written by: Thomas Doran, Brendan Faulkner, Frank Farel, Ann Burgund
Music by: James Calabrese, Kenneth Higgins
Cast: Felix Ward, Dan Scott, Alec Nemser, Maria Pechukas, Charlotte Alexandra (as Charlotte Seeley)

Twisted Souls Inc., Miggles Corporation N.V., Safir Films, 85 Minutes

Review:

“Uuuuuuhh, look at me: I’m Duke, the horny ghost.” – Duke

Spookies is a pretty awful movie. However, it’s one of those awful movies that is so crazy and ridiculous that it’s hard not to love if you’re into premium schlock. Especially, of the ’80s, no budget, horror variety.

The film features two different casts and frankly, two different stories. The movies are then edited together as one film and nothing makes much sense. Who’s the real villain? What’s really going on? How many types of creatures and monsters are they going to throw at the audience? This is a clusterfuck of biblical proportions but still, it’s an entertaining, lovable clusterfuck.

The special effects are pretty damn bad but they’re still kind of a visual treat in their awfulness.

The thing is, I still applaud the effort by the filmmakers as they employed a lot of practical, physical effects and there are just a ton of different creatures and deformed people wearing everything from mud-man zombie suits to spider-lady prosthetics and makeup.

Additionally, this is one of those movies where it appears like everyone is having a blast making this thing.

Still, the acting is pretty close to atrocious and not much makes any sort of real sense.

As a film, it’s certainly way below average but its creativity and heart really gives it a few extra points in my book.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s haunted house movies.

Video Game Review: Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (Sega Master System)

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts was the first sequel to the hit Ghosts ‘n Goblins game. This port to the Sega Master System actually came out a year after it was ported to Sega’s more advanced Genesis console.

However, this version of the game added in some cool stuff that the arcade and other ports didn’t have.

The Master System port features a unique upgrade system. The biggest thing that stands out is that the player can now enter shops and purchase better armor, weapons and magic.

The graphics on this version are also pretty impressive considering that the Master System console was a step behind the Genesis. This game looks visually better than the more comparable Nintendo Entertainment System’s Ghosts ‘n Goblins game from a few years earlier.

I thought that the controls were a bit wonky, though. Then again, they’re not that different from the older NES game that I spent hours upon hours playing in the late ’80s.

Like its predecessor, this game is also really damn difficult and frustrating. I didn’t get anywhere near completing it before giving up in frustration to go smoke a joint and grill a steak.

Despite being a visually alluring installment of the series, this one does fall kind of flat. It’s more frustrating than fun, the levels aren’t that great and the overall level design is kinda meh.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other games in the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise.

Film Review: Dead & Buried (1981)

Also known as: Look Alive (alternative title)
Release Date: May 29th, 1981 (special screening)
Directed by: Gary Sherman
Written by: Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Alex Stern, Jeff Millar
Music by: Joe Renzetti
Cast: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke, Robert Englund, Lisa Blount, Bill Quinn, Michael Currie, Barry Corbin

Aspen Productions, Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance, 94 Minutes

Review:

“You can try to kill me, Dan. But you can’t. You can only make me dead.” – Dobbs

This is a movie I’ve never seen but the old VHS box art used to intrigue me when I was a kid because it was hard to tell what the film was even about.

Looking at the poster art, the perspective is strange and I kind of thought it was about undead giants in the desert at night.

By the way, that’s be a solid idea for a horror film or at the very least, minor villains in a sword and sorcery story.

Anyway, the film is a about a small coastal New England town where the townsfolk act as a killer mob that loves taking photographs of their victims before and as they murder them.

I don’t want to say too much more about the plot, as it could ruin the big reveal, which I thought was pretty damn intriguing.

The film is really atmospheric and it feels very confining, as the dread within the town closes in on the core characters with each passing murder. It’s also slow paced but there are enough kills in here to keep the regular horror fan engaged and satisfied.

Apart from the ambiance, I think the most effective thing about the movie is Stan Winston’s special effects. This was still early in the legend’s career but he used some superb practical effects that have held up tremendously well. The shock moment of the burnt man screaming back to life was amazing and as a practical effects fanboy, I just nodded and smirked.

Dead & Buried was a nice surprise for me. I didn’t know what to expect but it was a slow burn with a pretty good, batshit crazy payoff.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: horror movies about killer families or strange small towns.

Film Review: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Also known as: Tea-Time of the Dead (working title), Zombies Party – Uma Noite… de Morte (Portugal), Zombies Party – Una Noche… de Muerte (Spain)
Release Date: March 29th, 2004 (London premiere)
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Music by: Pete Woodhead, Daniel Mudford
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Jessica Stevenson, Peter Serafinowicz, Rafe Spall, Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, Matt Lucas, Julia Deakin, Michael Smiley (uncredited)

Working Title Films, StudioCanal, Rogue Pictures, Universal Pictures, 99 Minutes

Review:

“As Mr. Sloan always says, there is no “I” in team, but there is an “I” in pie. And there’s an “I” in meat pie. Anagram of meat is team… I don’t know what he’s talking about.” – Shaun

The first time that I watched Shaun of the Dead, I knew that it would not only be a cult classic, right out of the gate, but I knew it would go down as a comedy classic and one of the best of its era. I wasn’t wrong and it helped Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost carve out really nice careers for themselves.

It also kicked off the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, which included 2007’s Hot Fuzz and 2013’s The World’s End.

Out of those three films, this one sits in the middle for me, as I like Hot Fuzz more and thought that The World’s End was fairly underwhelming.

This movie is pretty simple and straightforward, though. It also came out before zombie movies and television shows really blew up and became oversaturated in entertainment. So when I saw this for the first time in 2004, it was pretty unique and immediately became one of my favorite horror comedies.

There have been a lot of horror comedies since, especially in the zombie subgenre. But this and the original Return of the Living Dead are the only two I’d consider true classics.

The cast in this had great chemistry but most of them are good friends and had worked together previously in the TV shows Spaced and Black Books.

Shaun of the Dead also feels like a natural extension of Spaced, even though it features familiar actors in different roles. The style of the comedy, the two main characters’ camaraderie and the film’s general tone match up with Spaced, though. That also probably has to do with Edgar Wright helming both.

The story sees a lovable and well-meaning loser have to step up to the plate when the zombie apocalypse kicks off in London. He needs to win back his girlfriend, save his mum and his friends and try to survive the undead outbreak with a pint in his hand.

This doesn’t need a complicated story and it’s better that it’s simple and allows the characters the time to develop and win you over. It’s funny though, as this was the first time I saw Dylan Moran and by the end, I thought he was the biggest prick in the world. And he was, in this film, but he’d actually become one of my favorite comedians and comedic actors after seeing a lot of his standup, as well as his roles in Black Books and a slew of other appearances over the years.

Shaun of the Dead was my introduction to a lot of actors I’ve grown to love over the years. Kate Ashfield, the female lead, is actually the only person in this who I haven’t seen in anything else. Still, she’s really enjoyable in this and added a lot to this group’s dynamic.

I’m glad that I revisited this again, as it’s been so long since I’ve watched any of the movies in this trilogy or Spaced. But after seeing this, I’m going to work through them all again for future reviews.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other Edgar Wright comedies, as well as his television show Spaced.

Film Review: The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Also known as: I Am Legend, The Naked Terror (working titles), The Damned Walk at Midnight (alternative title)
Release Date: May 6th, 1964
Directed by: Sidney Salkow, Ubaldo B. Ragona
Written by: Logan Swanson, William F. Leicester, Furio M. Monetti, Ubaldo B. Ragona
Based on: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Music by: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter
Cast: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi Stuart

Associated Producers (API), Produzioni La Regina, 86 Minutes

Review:

“Another day to live through. Better get started.” – Robert Morgan

When I was a kid, this was a movie that bored me to tears. I didn’t revisit it again for decades because I thought it was so drab and slow. However, I wanted to give it a fair shot and this time around, I liked it a lot. 

I guess my memories of it weren’t all that accurate either, as I just remembered the scenes of Vincent Price driving around with bodies everywhere and then spending all his time reinforcing his house and lying around on the couch as zombie vampires called his name from outside. All these things do happen, however there is much more to the picture.

We do get flashbacks to the time before the virus completely wrecked the planet. We see Price as a scientist who has a hard time believing what’s happening because it’s… well, so unbelievable. After spending so much time with Price alone, these flashback scenes are a welcome sight, as we get to see him interact with human beings again. All the slow, monotonous stuff served a real purpose with the narrative and tone of the film. Like Price, you yearn for more humans and when you get them, you feel that emotional effect.

Apparently, this film was supposed to be produced and shot by Hammer Films. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen and production moved to an Italian company. They were able to lock down Vincent Price and frankly, despite my poor taste as a kid, the end result is something incredibly worthwhile.

This film also features one of Price’s best performances, which is very reserved and somber. Price acts very much in contrast to what most people remember him for, which was his flamboyant and energetic characters. Seeing Price play his role this way, also adds to the emotional effect of the picture. I’ve seen enough of Price to understand his range and this wasn’t the first or last time he played a softer, more subdued character, but this story might make it his best version of that.

The Last Man On Earth is a film that most horror historians look at really fondly. I had a bad take on it for years and I’m glad that I decided to give it a chance. After seeing it now, I feel like maybe I never finished it, as a kid, as all I remembered from it was the stuff that happened in the first act.

I certainly didn’t remember the ending, which is quite impactful.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: early zombie films, as well as other films based off of this story like The Omega Man and I Am Legend.

TV Review: The Walking Dead: World Beyond (2020- )

Original Run: October 4th, 2020 – current
Created by: Scott M. Gimple, Matthew Negrete
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
Music by: The Newton Brothers
Cast: Aliyah Royale, Alexa Mansour, Hal Cumpston, Nicolas Cantu, Nico Tortorella, Annet Mahendru, Julia Ormond

Skybound Entertainment, AMC, 10 Episodes (so far), 47-52 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Man, there’s not much I can say about this show but it’s obvious that Walking Dead fatigue is beyond the exhaustion point, at least for me. But I’m also the last person that I know in the real world that is still watching any of it.

I tried to give this a shot but the show is insufferable.

Furthermore, it’s dreadfully boring and trying to get through the first episode was an absolute chore. I did it and then I started the second episode but after about fifteen minutes, I said, “Fuck this!” and turned it off.

The big takeaway from what I watched was that none of the key characters are interesting, they’re all boring as shit and either their performances are extremely understated or they just don’t have the ability to convey any real emotion. But I guess that’s kind of like most kids nowadays.

The problem that AMC doesn’t seem to understand as they suck The Walking Dead‘s teat completely dry, way too late, is that no one really needs the milk anymore. We’ve all got enough now to last the rest of our lives.

Plus, there are other, better things to drink out in the world.

If you want us to buy more milk, you need to provide us with the best milk… great milk. Otherwise, it’s just more of the same shit we’ve been drinking for over a decade and the fridge is overflowing.

Rating: 3/10
Pairs well with: The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.

 

Comic Review: Negan Lives! – One-Shot

Published: July 1st, 2020
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Charlie Adlard

Image Comics, 36 Pages

Review:

Even though The Walking Dead comic series ended a year ago, I always figured that we’d get comics in the future.

Hopefully, this one-shot isn’t the last but I don’t think it will be. I’m not sure what Robert Kirkman’s plan is, if there even is any, but I think that stories will continue to pop into his head every now and then.

This story takes place somewhere between the time where Negan left the comic series and its finale. It shows Negan living on his own where a girl stumbles into his homestead. Negan knows that its an obvious setup and is just kind of waiting for some bad guys to show up and try to take his shit.

They do and like everyone else, they don’t kill Negan and end up paying for it with their lives.

Being that this is just a one-shot, it’s a short, simple story that is kind of similar to the episodes of the show that focus on one character for an hour. It doesn’t really move anything forward or effect the larger comic series.

Still, it was a good read and it was cool peaking in on the Negan character once again.

I only hope that the ending is a hint at something more to come with Negan or The Walking Dead universe, as a whole.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Walking Dead comics.