All posts tagged zombie

How To Build An Army When You’re Crazy

Published September 15, 2013 by vfdpixie

frankenstein's army

Frankenstein’s Army (2013, 1hr 24 mins)

Stories of the Nazis and their crazy experiments have once again made it to the movies with Frankenstein’s Army.  In my mind this film, which is chock full of monsters, will quickly find status in cult film history.

We follow band of Russian soldiers on a recon mission as they trek through eastern Germany at the tail end of WWII.  Their journey is documented for Stalin through the camera of Dimitri (Alexander Mercury), a fellow soldier.  As they move through the countryside, contact with command is non-existent, and the area is eerily void of life.  They stumble upon a village that hides a massive Nazi lab where hideous, unnatural experiments are taking place to manufacture a nightmarish army.  The brains behind this sick operation?  The grandson of Frankenstein, mad scientist Viktor.  The soldiers end up fighting more than they bargained for, as well as an unexpected foe.

I am a lover of monsters, and I got my fill in this movie.  The undead/machine hybrids, or “zombots” running amok were brilliant.  Director and co-writer Richard Raaphorst did an amazing job with the creature design, pushing the envelope with the bizarre use of objects like airplane propellers, drills and teddy bears (trust me-just see the film).  I also liked that the zombots weren’t done with C.G.I which lent to the good old-fashioned cheese factor.  All the actors did a great job hamming it up as Nazi-hating soldiers with ego problems.  I was surprised to see Joshua Sasse as the take charge soldier Sergei.  Not only is he easy on the eyes, he is also brilliant as Alec Laszlo, the power-hungry son of a dirty business man on the series Rogue.  Now that he is part of cult horror culture, I love him even more!  Andrei Zayats was great as the adrenaline junkie nut-job soldier Vassili, and Karl Roden created a deliciously mad Viktor Frankenstein.

Amidst the numerous Nazis zombie/monster movies out there (some of which I couldn’t finish watching they were so bad), Frankenstein’s Army is a great addition to the genre.  Taken from an earlier idea of his called Worst Case Scenario, Raaphorst created this full length soon-to-be classic that is a fast favourite among horror fans out there.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely fun and you must check it out!

Favourite Scene:  As the soldiers try to save one of their comrades, a zombot prepares for a sneak attack from an unlikely location.  Really cool look, angle and monster!

Most Memorable Line:  Dr. Frankenstein spouts “A man of vision is always misunderstood, but the film in your camera will convince the doubters.”  Ah, yeah, sure.  When everyone sees the abominations running around chopping everyone to pieces?  You will totally win everyone over.  Totally.

Zombie Globetrotting

Published July 1, 2013 by vfdpixie


World War Z (2013 1 hr, 56 mins)

This pixie is breathing a sigh of relief.  If you read my previous post, you will know that I don’t like my zombies messed with.  No tip-toeing through the tulips with zombies please.  Just keep ’em blood-thirsty, unthinking, and mean.  Fast or slow-moving, doesn’t matter, but stick to the program.  I am happy to report that World War Z has renewed my zombie fervour (even if technically speaking, these zombies are more of the “infected” types rather than zombies).

I’ve heard from a few people who reported World War Z is not what they expected.  They read the book, and felt the film adaptation wasn’t exactly what they envisioned.  I’m surprised I haven’t read this wildly popular book by Max Brooks, since I love a good zombie/survivalist story.  From what I’ve heard, it’s an oral history of the world after an outbreak of a zombie-making virus.  After seeing the film, I will definitely read it, because even though the film is great on its own, I want to get familiar with the source.

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a retired UN investigator who gets thrown back into action after a virus outbreak turns its victims into fast-moving, biologically driven biters.  Lane witnesses this first hand during one of the best chaos scenes as he sees a man “turn” in 12 seconds after being bitten, making this outbreak almost impossible to contain.  He is forced to leave his family at a U.S. navy vessel and help a young Dr. Andrew Fassbach (Elyes Gabel) navigate the world as they trace the origins of the virus in the hopes of finding a cure.  Unfortunately, the doctor panics during a zombie attack in a decimated South Korean army base, and inadvertently shoots himself.  Lane is now the only hope in finding a cure for the virus that has rapidly reached a world-wide pandemic.

I really enjoyed World War Z.  It was filled with tons of suspense and action, and although Brad Pitt is not one of my favourite actors, he gave a pretty solid, quietly bad-ass performance. If you can get past the similarities to 28 Days Later, and also the feeling that the film at some points behaved like a video game, I think it’s a great summer horror movie.  I liked the tone and scope of the film, as Lane moved from Philadelphia to South Korea, then on to Jerusalem and Wales.  The pacing was great as well.  Never a dull moment here, and the tension grew from the first frame as Lane and his family see the horror unfold during a seemingly normal traffic jam to the end as he races against time for the cure.

A huge kudos goes to the actors who played the zombies.  I wouldn’t call them full-blown zombies, as they were really fast and reminded me of the infected from 28 Days Later.  (I’m sure there is a zombie chart out there that classifies zombie differences such as speed, rate of decay, etc.)  They played their roles with such blood-thirsty vigor, that most people in the theatre I was in cringed or giggled nervously.  Yes people, I crawled out of my bunker and went to a movie in the theatre.  In public.  It was difficult, but the crowd exhibited proper movie etiquette and seemed to enjoy the movie as much as I did.  Anyway, check out this cool article I found from the L.A. Times about a couple of key zombies from the film.  The F/X makeup was brilliant and gruesome, and of course a great actor uses this as a tool to immerse themselves into their role, down to the chilling teeth clicking as the virus made them want to chomp on autopilot.

There were some familiar faces here too.  James Badge Dale was gritty and dour as Captain Speke, who helps Lane out of South Korea.  I will always remember him from the short-lived but much-loved AMC series Rubicon (which they should have never cancelled).  Mireille Enos played Lane’s wife Karin and you can see her in another AMC show The Killing. David Morse has a great cameo as crazed ex-CIA agent, and Matthew Fox (of Lost fame) made a brief appearance as a parajumper on the navy vessel.  I suspect his role was supposed to be bigger, but this production was apparently, um, plagued with problems like rewrites, going over budget and several cast changes.  Despite these issues, I think the film was entertaining and worth emerging from your bunker, under your bridge, or out of your cardboard box to see it.

Most Memorable Line:  The ill-fated young Dr. Fassbach proclaims that “Mother Nature is a serial killer.”  He goes on to describe her wily ways and wanting to get caught at the same time.  Interesting concept, and something to make us think as global resources dwindle.

Favourite Scene:  At the W.H.O research facility.  This is what reminded me of a video game as Lane has to navigate a maze of zombies to get to precious and dangerous ingredients for a possible cure.  I loved the contrast between the stark, sterile environment of the labs sullied by infected, snarling zombies.  Definitely a nail-biter!

Zombie Warm and Fuzzies (Not!)

Published June 30, 2013 by vfdpixie

warm bodies

Warm Bodies (2013, 1 hr, 38 mins)

I must warn you.  This is not going to be a pleasant post.  It will, in fact, be a zombie rant.  I don’t know if I would call myself a purist, but I like my zombies a certain way.  Be it in a comedy or a gruesome throat-biting, blood spurting romp, I feel zombies should get a little respect, kind of like the tough kid in the playground.  Back in my day, you gave him/her space, ran if they notice you, and stood your ground if they caught up to you.  There have been plenty of successful attempts to create a different view of zombies within reason, such as Shaun of the Dead and In The Flesh.  Two well done, brilliantly written (and both British) takes on zombies on either side of the spectrum.  And then there is of course, The Walking Dead, which goes without saying:  your traditional survival of the fittest, zombies vs. us deal that has me and millions of fans hooked.  Even the 2004 low-budget Zombie Honeymoon brought us a creative take on zombies.  Each represent zombies with respect to the genre and the proper fear, loathing, or comedy that doesn’t dull their iconic place in horror.

Imagine my delight when I heard about Warm Bodies, a rom-com take on the zombie experience.  Of course I missed it in the theatres (because I’d rather stay at home where it’s safe), and was looking forward to seeing it when it came out on DVD.  Well, fellow horror fan, that delight was short-lived.  You will learn why in a few.

The film is about ‘R’ (Nicholas Hoult), a handsome young zombie fellow, who gives us his point of view of life as a zombie.  He gives us an inside look with a voice over of what it’s like to be the walking dead, some stuck in a loop of what they were before their untimely death due to a plague that took over 8 years ago.  The living stay entrenched in The City, a walled section of a sprawling metropolis that they protect ferociously from the ongoing zombie threat.  Julie, a lovely blonde Kirsten Stewart look-alike (Teresa Palmer) is part of the patrol and her father, Grigio (John Malkovich) is the militant head of The City.  R and Julie meet during a fateful battle where he eats her boyfriend’s brain and kidnaps her in order to keep her out of the jaws of his zombie colleagues, because you see, R has feelings-or a semblance of them.  He falls in love with her on sight, and by eating her boyfriend’s brain, his love is reinforced since her boyfriend’s memories become his.  R basically holds Julie hostage, citing the need to have the other zombies forget about her after her attempts to escape has brought attention to her living flesh.  So of course, R, being the music-loving, collector zombie that he is, shows her a good time in his airplane bunker.  Julie then suffers from what I can only call zombie Stockholm Syndrome and slowly begins to warm up to him ’cause he’s different, and R realizes he is becoming more human.  Cue the fun montage of Julie teaching R how to drive, playing records and dress up, and committing utter blasphemy by having a DVD of the 1979 classic Zombie in a scene.  Hey Julie, can’t you smell your boyfriend’s brains in R’s pockets?  Not leaving a stain?  Can’t smell R’s decaying flesh breath?  No?  O.K., whatevs.

The movie soon spirals into saccharine, feel-good, Romeo and Juliet territory that often made me retch and dry heave.  Love will warm the flesh of even a zombie.  Um, last time I checked, love don’t pay the rent, so making a zombie human?  Tall order.  Oh yes, and it’s not just R that feels the love.  His fellow zombies are starting to get the warm and fuzzies too (cue that Neil Diamond song about your heartlight).  Ugh.  The only things I like about this movie were the “bad” zombies, or “Boneys”-zombies who were too far gone, skeletal and real hungry.  They proved to be a threat for the “good” zombies and humans alike; forcing them to unit and feel the love.  I actually wanted to drive the Boneys into battle myself in a lowrider caddy (with hydraulics, blasting some Snoop Dog) just to stop the nonsense.

Here’s the thing.  I actually liked the idea of zombies retaining some sort of intelligence, but the returning to humanity was a bit of a stretch as zombies are traditionally motivated by instinct and hunger, not emotion (check out the 2008 indie film Colin for a more traditional zombie p.o.v) Although I haven’t read it yet, there is no doubt in my mind that the book is great.  I just hate movie adaptations that dumb down the story and force a sentiment on the viewer.  This movie made me feel like I was invited to play laser tag and ended up at bible study.  Not even John Malkovich, Rob Corddry ( R’s friend ‘M’) and Analeigh Tipton (who played Julie’s friend Nora), all of whom I love, could save this flick for me.  I don’t know what else to say, except that the only winners for me in this film were the Boneys, who ain’t no phoneys.  At least they were honest (and hungry).

One of my boney dawgs keeping it real!

One of my Boney dawgs keeping it real!

Most Memorable Line:  When besties Julie and Nora dish about R, Nora says, “I  mean, I know it’s really hard to meet guys right now, with the apocalypse stuff. Trust me.”  You haven’t been to Toronto, sister.  Dating after an apocalypse amidst the zombies and roaches sounds just dreamy compared to dating in this town.

Most Hateful Scene:  has to be hands down the heinous Pygmalion-esque “Let’s Make R Look Like A Real Boy!” scene.  I think the intention was tongue in cheek, but it just brought bile to mouth.  Sorry folks, didn’t work for me.

Afros, and Zombies and Voodoo, Oh My!!

Published January 18, 2013 by vfdpixie


Sugar Hill (1974, 1hr 31 mins)

Sugar Hill is my hero.  Once again, I’m biased, but after reading my bestie’s new book (shameless plug) What Are You Doing Here?:  A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal, it inspired me don my shitkickers, be my pixie self, and maybe fight gangsters with my zombie army in an afro.  So I pulled out my copy of Sugar Hill, which I found in my favourite goldmine, Suspect Video, and settled in for some bad ass action.

Diana “Sugar” Hill (Marki Bey) is happy and in love with her handsome, shiny suited boyfriend Langston (Larry Don Johnson).  He owns Club Haiti, a groovy nightclub that hosts elaborately choreographed numbers like, um, a voodoo shindig, for a groovy clientele.  His club is so groovy that the local gangster, Mr. Morgan (Robert Quarry) wants it.  Morgan sends his henchmen to collect but Langston stands up to them, only to be beaten to death by the baddies who wear loud suits and nylons to obscure their mustachioed faces.  ‘Cause the awful, awful suits they wear won’t give them away.

bad suits

Sugar and Langston, and badly dressed bad guys

Sugar is devastated, and filled with revenge and rage, consults the local voodoo queen, Mama Maitresse (Zara Cully, who played George Jefferson’s mother on The Jeffersons) to avenge Langston’s death.  How, you may ask?  By calling upon Baron Zamedi (Don Pedro Colley), to whom she offers her own soul for the deaths of her boyfriend’s killers.  The Baron is delighted because Sugar is not afraid of him and raises an army of undead slaves to do her bidding.

sugar's zombies

Zombies with eyes aglitter

Enter Valentine (Richard Lawson), who is Sugar’s ex and the local cop on the case once the killings start.  He is suspicious of her, but because they have a history, tells her to steer clear of any involvement with Morgan and his men and does his own research to support his hunch that these are no regular killings.  He also has a fantastic ‘fro that seems to have a life of its own.

Sugar is a stone cold fox!  Seriously!  Wearing what seems to be original hot, kick ass outfits by a Norbart Valentino (which I think is a pseudonym for someone else since this is the only movie listed under this name, and this name is kind of ridiculous), Sugar runs her photography business, Club Haiti and exacts revenge.  Her killing suit rivals any Elvis onesy I’ve ever seen.  And that magnificent afro!  So perfectly picked out and worn only when she is doling out the hurt on the racist, and dumb bad guys.


Stone. Cold. Fox.

sugar hill jumper

Killing onesy

And speaking of bad guys, the head gangster, Mr. Morgan, is extremely entertaining.  He is very metro, from his white cuban heels, to sipping champers and kissing his cute little poodle.  In fact he treats his poodle better than his girl, Celeste (Betty Anne Rees).  Morgan’s bad guy den is also the living room of my dreams.  Stripey sofa, day glow pillows and gold table lamps!  All I need is my kaftan to entertain my guests!  Honorable mention also goes to Morgan’s right hand man, Fabulous played by Night Court’s Charles Robinson.  Oh the suits!!  He really lived up to his name.  I couldn’t figure out whether the fabric came from an upholsterer’s workshop or my mother’s drapes.  Wow!!

Morgan and Fabulous

Morgan and Fabulous

I’m going to count Sugar Hill as my favourite blaxploitation film ever.  It’s got zombies, revenge, Afros, great clothes and decor, and the best theme song ever:  “Supernatural Voodoo Woman” sung by The Orginals.  Oh, and Sugar is just kick ass.  She won’t let anyone walk over her or piss in her corn flakes, and if you try, the killing afro comes out and she’ll feed you to pigs or have a zombie intervention.  I will definitely take a page from her book, and while I won’t feed people to pigs or zombies, I will channel some ‘fro power when the chips are down!

Most Memorable Line and Favourite Scene:  This is an all in one.  When Celeste goes to Club Haiti to tell Sugar that she should back off and sell the club, they exchange heated words.  Celeste warns Sugar not to get “uppity” and Sugar replies, “Uppity?  With you?  My dear, talking to you means I look nowhere but down.” And the ladies go off in the most ridiculous catfight.  They tussle and all the while, a stone faced bartender continues to set up for the night.  Sugar kicks Celeste’s ass and the bartender calmly hands her a bucket of ice to douse Celeste with.  Has to be seen!!

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