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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: 28 Weeks Later

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. 28 Days Later felt strangely British, with its almost quaint surroundings and “island fortress” mentality. Filmed in High Definition with an intimate approach, the movie felt somehow more tangible and organic than most of these films, managing a genuine emotional impact that it’s easy to lose sight of in these fantastical narratives – its small scale and quirky design (along with hyper saturation) lent the movie a very distinct feel, the sensation that this was a “guerilla” zombie film – shot in the early morning on abandoned streets rather than closing off sections of town. In contrast, 28 Weeks Later feels a much more managed affair, and a much more conventional one. It’s shot like any other zombie movie, and clearly intended to reach an even wider audience than the original cult hit. It’s a great movie, but one can’t help but get the sensation that the fine polish applied to it undercuts some of the impact.

The army had to find something to keep themselves occupied...

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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: Shaun 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.

Ah, facing down a herd of zombies with nothing but a Cricket Bat. Is there a more British response possible to the fall of civilisation?

And that's my cue...

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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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Non-Review Review: The Night of Living Dead (1968)

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.

They’re coming to get you, Barbara!

– Barbara’s brother tempts fate

The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying. There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe nine years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying… It’s hard to remember what sort of effect this movie might have had on you when you were six or seven. But try to remember. At that age, kids take the events on the screen seriously, and they identify fiercely with the hero. When the hero is killed, that’s not an unhappy ending but a tragic one: Nobody got out alive. It’s just over, that’s all.

– Roger Ebert discusses the impact of the film on his first viewing

It’s interesting to look back on a film and see that it created a whole new genre from scratch. The Night of the Living Dead is a humble, small and effective little black-and-white effort that doesn’t even seem aware of the impact that it would have. As shrewdly as it creates the monster which defined the latter half of the twentieth century (and the first few years of the twenty-first), there’s nothing pretentious about George A. Romero’s production. In fact, it consciously harks back to all manner of influential and paranoid fifties horrors (with a dash of science fiction). Still, there’s a reason the film has endured for so long. Although it never pretends to be anything more than a gloriously trashy B-movie, The Night of the Living Dead is committed to being the best gloriously trashy B-movie it can be. The only thing more fascinating than its pop culture impact is how well (mostly) it still hold up today.

Barbara's in grave danger...

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the m0vie blog launches Zombie Week!

Halloween is next week! And, for those of you living in the States, that heralds the premiere of Frank Darabont’s The Walking Dead. So, we’ve decided to run a themed week leading up to the premiere. Each day between now and next Sunday, we’ll be reviewing a particular zombie film – some classic, some modern; some American, some British – and running a host of zombie-related fun. In fact, before the premiere, we’ll be reviewing the second full year of the comic book it’s based upon, The Walking Dead. Be sure to check it out. It’ll be dead fun.

Bring out your undead!

Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern – Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps (Vol. I & II) & Rise of the Black Lanterns

All right, gang. Let’s go shoot some zombies.

– Captain Cold, Blackest Night: Flash

It wouldn’t be a massive world-ending crisis of a DC Universe cross-over if there weren’t tie-in issues by the bucketful. Sinestro Corps War, Geoff Johns’ earlier Green Lantern mega-event, was relatively low-key in its ambitions, only really spilling across into four specials that dealt with the wider DC Universe. This time there’s close to thirty, which is, as you’d imagine, quite a lot. Given the relatively simplistic nature of the event (it’s basically “superhero zombies”), you’d be forgiven for expecting that the crossovers and tie-ins would become dull or monotonous, but they mostly avoid that. It’s partially due to the variety of perspectives offered, but also due to the extremely talented pool of writers and artists on hand.

As cold... as ice...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern – Blackest Night, Blackest Night: Green Lantern, Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps & Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps (Review/Retrospective)

Wow. This is pretty much the climax of Geoff Johns’ five year run on Green Lantern, dating all the way back to Rebirth – where he reintroduced Hal Jordan, the original Silver Age version of the character. Since the very start of his run, he’s been dropping hints about the upcoming “war of light” and the prophecy first articulated in an Alan Moore short story decades ago – the prophecy of “blackest night”. Throughout his tenure on the title (and indeed his role shaping the DC Universe as a whole, as one of its guiding writers in the last decade), he has hinted again and again about big events looming on the horizon. Blackest Night is that event. And, in a way, it’s just as wild and crazy and huge as it should be.

Green Lantern reaches new heights...

Note: I am aware that the excellent Peter J. Tomasi wrote the Green Lantern Corps tie-in, but I thought it best to include it in the write-up here. I’ll actually be including my review of the tie-ins under the “Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern” banner, even though he didn’t write all of them. If you’re looking for an opinion on Tomasi’s writing, it’s excellent and it’s highly recommended. Indeed, all four of these wonderful hardcovers are. Oops, did I just spoil my review?

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