Horror fans wait with bated breath for the release tomorrow of The Thing, the much-anticipated and already much-reviled prequel to John Carpenter’s much-lauded classic. The DLB spoke to director Mattjis van Heijningen, Jr., earlier today about the expectations of fans, combining practical effects with CGI, and his future plans, including the status of that much-talked-about zombie epic Army of the Dead.
Archive for Dawn of the Dead
ALIEN 2: ON EARTH (1980)
Starring Belinda Mayne, Mord Bodin and Roberto Barrese
Written and directed by Ciro Ippolito
Italian knock-offs of Hollywood hits were a rampant phenomenon in the 1970s. Perhaps the most successful example artistically was Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1978). Released as Zombi 2, it benefitted from the Italian release of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead under the name Zombi. Similarly Alien 2: On Earth tries to piggyback off the success of Ridley Scott’s landmark 1979 hit Alien, albeit to comparatively lacklustre results.
Starring Sarah Polley, Adrien Brody and Delphine Cheneac
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Written by Vincenzo Natali & Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor
Splice’s relative failure at the box office this summer was disappointing for a number of reasons. First, it was a smart, well-made Canadian film so it deserved support. And secondly, it proves that horror fans are willing to bitch about the lack of original horror out there but they’re not willing to vote with their wallets when an actual original horror film gets made and distributed.
Survival of the Dead is George A. Romero’s sixth zombie film, and its imminent theatrical run in Toronto, followed soon after by its arrival on DVD and Blu-ray, meant that the legendary horror director, now relocated to Toronto from his long-time home in Pittsburgh, was available to talk.
Set a couple of months into the zombie outbreak, Survival follows a group of soldiers as they seek refuge on Plum Island, a remote piece of land controlled by The Flynns and The Muldoons, rival families whose decades-long enmity has barely been erupted by the outbreak of the undead.
Heavily influenced by the classic 1958 Western The Big Country, Survival is more black comedy than horror film, with Romero fully indulging his love of EC Comics and Looney Tunes cartoons in some of the more outrageous kills. As usual, Romero uses his zombies to help illustrate a larger social principle, rather than simply employing them as bringers of destruction.
Despite his busy schedule. former Rue Morgue writer and current Fangoria editor Chris Alexander continues to put on his Film School Confidential events at Toronto’s Bloor Cinema. Twice a month, Alexander screens a cult film, often one otherwise critically reviled or underappreciated by both critics and audiences. John Carpenter’s 2001 effort Ghosts of Mars certainly falls into both those categories. Described by Alexander as a “berserk amalgam of 3:10 TO YUMA, RIO BRAVO, Carpenter’s own ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, DAWN OF THE DEAD and PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES,” GOM will get a long overdue critical reappraisal tonight, June 23rd, at The Bloor.
Rifoki have just unleashed their terrifying video for “Zombie Attack,” one of the brutal tracks from their debut EP, Sperm Donor. Rifoki is a new project from prominent DJ and Dim Mak Records founder Steve Aoki and his partner-in-crime Sir Cornelius Bob Rifo, the mastermind behind The Bloody Beetroots.
“Zombie Attack” has snarling guitars, pummeling drums, and manic vocals that are matched by equally intense visuals in the video. Flesh-eating humans, crashed military planes, and buildings set ablaze are just some of the clip’s striking images. The video’s stylized, grainy look and the iconic typeface used pay homage to classic zombie flicks.
“I’ve always been inspired by George Romero and all the 70′ American horror movies like Dawn of the Dead,” The video’s director, Konrad Palkiewicz, explains. “When Bob told me about a song called ‘Zombie Attack’ I realized instantly that was the song for my next video.”
Though Aoki and Rifo are best known as globe-trotting, party-starting DJ’s and producers, they both grew up immersed in their local hardcore scenes. True to the spirit of punk, Sperm Donor was written and recorded spontaneously in just 5 days. Each track is a short, fast, and loud burst of raw energy that will leave you foaming at the mouth for more.
Don’t miss Rifoki’s live debut April 24th at The Palladium in Hollywood, CA!
Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell and Joe Anderson
Directed by Breck Eisner
Written by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright
Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the original version of The Crazies (1973). I have a vague recollection of trying to watch it about a decade ago and being bored stiff, to the extent that I had to stop the movie 15 minutes in for fear of having to rip my eyes out of my head. And indeed, having spoken to a friend about it in the wake of seeing this remake, he confirmed what I have heard from others: that the original is a great idea poorly executed. In other words, the perfect film to be remade.
That idea is pretty simple: the residents of Ogden Marsh, a picturesque American town, start going crazy for no ostensible reason. Soon enough, Sheriff David Dutton (Olyphant: A Perfect Getaway) and his deputy Russell Clank (Anderson: The Ruins) find their town under siege by locals infected by a mysterious virus and Hazmat-suited soldiers hoping to contain the contagion.
Working from a script written by Scott Kosar (The Machinist) and Ray Wright (Pulse), director Breck Eisner (Sahara), until recently attached to direct the Creature From the Black Lagoon remake, fulfills much of the promise of George A. Romero’s original. A solid budget means we get to see the full extent of the virus’s destructive capacity, from a downed military aircraft to a high school turned into a military operation to a devastated Ogden Marsh burning.
It also helps that Eisner has such a solid cast. Olyphant and Anderson are especially strong, and although neither of their characters is particularly well fleshed out, we still empathize with their plights. And it’s always a pleasure to see Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black) in a Hollywood film.
Not surprisingly, The Crazies, like Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, jettisons most of the political underpinnings of Romero’s work. So where early-1970s concerns about environmental damage and Vietnam seemed to have informed the original Crazies, this version makes only passing reference to current anxieties about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As one soldier Dutton interrogates says regarding the killing of Ogden Marsh’s residents by the military, “This isn’t what I signed up for.”
Leaving aside that baggage, the new Crazies is a cracking horror thriller which builds genuine tension and anxiety in several great set pieces. Kudos, too, to the effects work by Robert Hall’s Almost Human studios. It’s alternately subtle and horrifying, with the infected looking genuinely sick, not just undead.
Romero purists may take affront, but like Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, the new Crazies is simply a different take on a good idea. That’s not so crazy, is it?