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Non-Review Review: World War Z

World War Z is a lesson in compromise, a Frankenstein’s monster stitched together out of necessity with the lines very clearly showing. It goes this way and then that way, never really sure where it wants to be in the next act, save that it’s a safe bet there might be zombies. World War Z isn’t as bad as it might have been, but the problem is that it feels like it’s trying so hard to find an ending that it never bothers to excel. It’s not that World War Z is bad, it’s a competently made thriller that works as well as it can with a script that spent most of production in triage. The problem is that it’s never bold enough to do anything genuinely exciting.

Pitting our best man against the zombie horde...

Pitting our best man against the zombie horde…

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Non-Review Review: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a very curious film – a weird genre fusion that feels like it really shouldn’t work, but with just barely enough charm to pull it off. The movie hinges on the wonderfully crazy idea of blending zombie horror with romantic comedy. Drawing from the book of the same name, the film is light enough and fast enough that it never overstays its welcome. There are times when it overplays its hand, when it threatens to descend into sentimental nonsense, and when the two genres seem to threaten to smother one another. However, it has enough charm and wit that it never veers too far off course before correcting itself.

At its best, it demonstrates that there’s life in these two old genres yet.

Uncanny.

Uncanny.

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Non-Review Review: Return of the Living Dead

Return of the Living Dead is a fairly strange beast. Something of a black comedy spin-off from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the film is a ridiculously campy exploration of trashy low-rent horror… and yet somehow has been picked up and embraced by popular culture. After all, this is the movie that introduced the idea that zombies weren’t just satiated by consuming large quantities of meat (most often from humans) – this was the film which introduced the idea of zombies stumbling forward, repeatedly droning “braaaaains!” It’s a concept which has been so throughly incorporated into pop culture’s definition of zombie (although it’s rarely the case, we still expect it and recognise it), so it seems strange that it came from a spoof.

No bones about it...

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Non-Review Review: The Crazies (2010)

The Crazies is a fairly decent little horror movie, as far as modern horror goes. It’s relatively restrained, smartly acted and generally well-directed, with the kind of horror which reflects back on modern society. It’s not perfect and it’s certainly not excellent, but it’s another above-par remake of a George A. Romero cult classic.

Timothy Olyphant lights up the screen...

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The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye (Pilot)

And so it has arrived. The Walking Dead, as written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic books (or “series of graphic novels”) written by Robert Kirkman. Logically, a zombie television show was long overdue – the creatures have been the staple of our pop culture landscape in some form or another for nearly fifty years now, and have seen a huge increase in popularity in recent times. So, with an incredibly strong pedigree behind it, this tale of zombie survival made it to the small screen.

The road less travelled...

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Non-Review Review: Land of the Dead

Welcome to the m0vie blog’s zombie week! It’s a week of zombie-related movie discussions and reviews as we come up to Halloween, to celebrate the launch of Frank Darbont’s The Walking Dead on AMC on Halloween night. So be sure to check back all week, as we’ll be running posts on the living dead.

Zombies, man. They creep me out.

– Kaufman

Land of the Dead is something of a delayed epilogue to Romero’s “dead” trilogy. The first three films were produced roughly once every decade, with The Night of the Living Dead appearing in the sixties, Dawn of the Dead in the seventies and Day of the Dead in the eighties. There was no zombie movie from Romero during the nineties (save a remake of his original film – and even then Romero didn’t direct it – his frequent collaborator Tom Savini was behind the camera. Land of the Dead is a somewhat more controversial film than the first three films Romero produced, perhaps because it’s the first time that it feels like Romero gives his zombies more development than the human survivors. It also plays with the audience’s expectations a bit more than the first three films – and, whiel I’m not convinced that this sort of toying around with the formula works, you have to give the director credit. It isn’t as strong as the earlier films, but it still feels like a director who has something to say about the state of modern society. And that is about good enough for me.

Hopper-ed up...

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The Walking Dead, Vol. 2 (Hardcover)

Welcome to the m0vie blog’s zombie week! It’s a week of zombie-related movie discussions and reviews as we come up to Halloween, to celebrate the launch of Frank Darbont’s The Walking Dead on AMC on Halloween night. So be sure to check back all week, as we’ll be running posts on the living dead.

I want to like Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. I really do. I love zombies. I love it when writers use horror to explore socially relevent issues. I totally dig the black-and-white style which is clearly intended to evoke the vibe of George Romero horror films. I love that it’s a mainstream comic book property that has broken into popular culture despite not featuring muscle-bound guys and gals with impossible physiques in ridiculous spandex – proof to the masses that comic books can be about more than superheroes. However, as much as I may want to embrace and love The Walking Dead, I just can’t bring myself to.

Grimes and punishment...

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Non-Review Review: Day of the Dead (1985)

Welcome to the m0vie blog’s zombie week! It’s a week of zombie-related movie discussions and reviews as we come up to Halloween, to celebrate the launch of Frank Darbont’s The Walking Dead on AMC on Halloween night. So be sure to check back all week, as we’ll be running posts on the living dead.

Day of the Dead is the third in Romero’s classic “dead” trilogy and perhaps the last film he produced that has been universally accepted. While he has, to date, produced three more zombie films (and there are those – including myself – who appreciate some of those to a greater or lesser degree), Day of the Dead is considered something of a closing note on Romero’s epic zombie apocalypse saga – perhaps the other three acting as appendices (with Land of the Dead an epilogue and Diary of the Dead a “reimagining”). Either way, it’s a strong little film which holds together relative well. It will never be iconic as the two earlier films produced – The Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead – but it still feels like a fitting companion piece.

He's got him undead to rights...

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Non-Review Review: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Welcome to the m0vie blog’s zombie week! It’s a week of zombie-related movie discussions and reviews as we come up to Halloween, to celebrate the launch of Frank Darbont’s The Walking Dead on AMC on Halloween night. So be sure to check back all week, as we’ll be running posts on the living dead.

It’s strange. For all the huge cultural impact that George A. Romero’s The Night of the Living Dead had (and it had quite a bit), people tend to focus quite a bit on the sequel, Dawn of the Dead. Perhaps it’s because the film is in colour, or because it features a far broader tapestry than Romero’s original zombie effort, or maybe it’s simply a better film, but the sequel is arguably every bit as well known (even to those who haven’t seen it) as the original – the idea of surviving a zombie apocalypse in an American shopping mall is one now etched on public consciousness (so much so that anywhere any survivor in any film ever seeks shelter is compared in some way to that mall) and even the damn elevator music has become famous in its own way. While I will concede the film is far more ambitious than its direct predecessor (and probably contributes more to the zombie mythos), I think it can also be argued that the film has far greater weaknesses as well.

Hope he's a dead shot...

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What is a Zombie?

Welcome to the m0vie blog’s zombie week! It’s a week of zombie-related movie discussions and reviews as we come up to Halloween, to celebrate the launch of Frank Darbont’s The Walking Dead on AMC on Halloween night. So be sure to check back all week, as we’ll be running posts on the living dead.

It seems like a fairly straightforward question, right? A zombie is one of those rotting, decaying corpses shuffling around looking for brains, isn’t it? I’m not so sure that even that simplistic explanation is enough. I mean we classify a wide variety of films as “zombie” films, even if the creatures prowling the land don’t resemble the type of monsters I have described. I mean, if the simplest description of a vampire is that it sucks blood and the most direct synopsis of a werewolf is that it changes form into a beast, what is the most essential element of being a zombie?

Will I stumble across the answer?

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