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December 23, 2008

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Lex10

American Zombie
Dead Set

Mark Allen

Great, great list William...thanks! My Netflix que is now even longer...

bob

Thanks for the tip on the Jean Rollins movies.

Dave

Ha! Thirst is fantastic. From the producer of Turkey Shoot. Really, the forerunner to updated vampire stuff like Ultraviolet. Naboer sounds promising...

M

No Let the Right One In? You missed out! Great Swedish vampire flick.

Interesting list. I'll have to check these out.

Clayton

Looks like someone beat me to it. Let the Right One In is far and away the best vampire flick I've seen in ages. Also, you've got to hand to it to George Romero. His newer movies may be crap, but at least he stays away from MTV-style edits and snnoying techno soundtracks. That, and the original Dawn of the Dead is the greatest zombie movie ever, hands down.

James

I guess I am in the minority of the WFMU audience on this one - I liked Diary of the Dead a heck of a lot (liked Land of the Dead, too, for that matter). I liked Cloverfield enough when I watched it, but it didn't stick in my mind much afterward.

But the best recent (American) zombie film I have seen is Joe Dante's Homecoming (which doubles as a fine repudiation of the Bush administration/questioning of the Iraq conflict).

WmMBerger

I've been "dying" to see Let the Right One In, as I've heard nothing but great reports about it. I'd have to go to a theater for that though, and then I would end up the subject of my own real-life mass murder tale (as the perpetrator.) I'm anxiously awaiting the DVD.

Clayton

Actually, there's a decent screener copy floating around of Let the Right One In, if you're not averse to stealing. I saw it in the theater, but totally by luck. It wasn't playing where I was, but I went to visit a friend and it was at a theater near his house.

Also, Homecoming is good, but I think it's a Masters of Horror episode, and not a feature-length. I haven't been too impressed with a zombie movie in a very long time. Fido was OK, but more of a (late career) John Waters-esque comedy. But if you want to watch another good monster movie, check out The Host. It's Thai, I think, and it's all about a giant carnivorous fish.

WmMBerger

Love The Host, and I almost included it in this list, but it was so long ago that I first watched it. It's a Korean film, and part of what I love about it is that it's more about the struggles of the family than the monster. I also thought the use of CGI was very tasteful, similar to Cloverfield. The director, Bong Joon-hoo, is a huge talent; his other film Memories of Murder is great too.

I have to weigh in on Homecoming, as two commenters have brought it up, and I didn't care for it at all. The politics of it were really overstated, with no subtlety whatsoever; the whole thing was really cornball, and though I support the overall message of the piece, it's just not what I look for in a horror film...way too sloppy. I have nothing against horror comedy, like Shaun of the Dead or Evil Dead II, but the balance has to be right, and I found Homecoming to be ham-handed and VERY dumbed down. The best thing to come out of the entire Masters of Horror series was John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns.

Also, I'm a huge fan of Romero, not just the zombie films, but Martin, Season of the Witch and The Crazies too. Land of the Dead and Diary... were OK, not terrible...but not up to the high, high quality of his more impassioned 70s work. I'm all for calling out my idols if they produce a mediocre product.

Clayton

I agree about Romero. He's resting on his laurels at the moment, with no imminent sign of abatement. You're right, Homecoming was nowhere near as good as Cigarette Burns or even Pelts. I have to differ with you on a couple of points, which is more fun than laborious, since it's obvious we're both proud horror dorks. Everyone loved Shaun of the Dead, which I felt to be terribly overrated and not very amusing in the least, especially given all the hype. Dead Alive is a far superior zombie comedy, IMO, but typically I find the sub-genre a tad annoying, except for Return of the Living Dead.

Also, I think that there were a lot of wasted opportunities in Cloverfield. I didn't mind so much while watching it at the theater, however, because my expectations were so low going in, but on second and third viewing, the acting, though admittedly not so important to the enjoyment of the film as a whole, is frankly terrible. On the upside, you're right about the use of CGI. The fact that there are very few gratuitous closeups of the beast meant a lot to me as a moviegoer. Plus, it gives them lots of room for expansion with the sequel, but I did still feel a little cheated by some of the implied gore. Scarecrows and Martin are overlooked classics, though, and now I have you to thank for making me want to re-watch them for the zillionth time.

And you should really blog about horror movies more often.

WmMBerger

I'm one of those weird people who doesn't care for Dead Alive aka Braindead. My wife loves it, but I've never connected with it. The first hour is all buildup, and then the gross-out gore crescendo is so, so over the top that I just find it sickening and more than a little silly—extreme, but not in a way that moves me at all. I agree with you, comedy zombie movies have been a washed-up genre for years now, though I consider Shaun of the Dead to be a bright spot. I'm a big fan of the more out-there BBC comedies (and Dylan Moran and Simon Pegg) so Shaun was a slam-dunk for me—I think they got the balance just right; in fact I've appreciated it even more on subsequent viewings.

Point taken on Cloverfield, the acting was for sure weak, sometimes terrible, but I'm so used to phasing that out (like why was everyone soooo upset with Cary Elwes in Saw?) that it didn't bother me. I also found Lizzy Caplan (in Cloverfield) to be believable and not bad to look at, either.

Clayton

Lizzy Caplan was the high point for me, as well. And I know what you mean about phasing it out. It seems like ignoring the bad acting and dialogue becomes easier with each passing year. I mean: what do I expect from a horror movie, anyway? I'll be the first in line for the Friday the 13th remake in February, and yet from the looks of who's involved, I can say with relative certainty that I already hate it.

Horror-comedy is pretty irritating to me in general. I, too, enjoy a great deal of British comedy, which is partially why I'm so upset that I didn't like Shaun. I wanted to like it, but unlike Cloverfield my expectations were through the roof. I can see why people might not enjoy Dead Alive, and personally I much prefer Peter Jackson's first film, Bad Taste, but I think I'm in the minority there. Stuart Gordon has not disappointed in the horror-comedy department, though; I still enjoy From Beyond and the first two Re-Animator movies. And Lucio Fulci's zombie movies are so unintentionally funny, they probably qualify as well.

Clayton

Whoa. Too much eggnog... I'm seeing double.

WmMBerger

Stuart Gordon! Talk about getting the balance just right—the man is a maestro. I think Castle Freak is my favorite. If The Host would have been #11 on this list, Gordon's Stuck would have been #12.

Clayton

Dagon was pretty great, too. Some people think Gordon's past his prime, but I think he may be the unsung hero of modern B-cinema.

WmMBerger

Mmm Dagon...that sits real well in my memory. I just put into my Netflix queue for a re-watch.

Clayton, we could be the Siskel and Ebert of Horror. I'm looking to cash in here.

By the way, are you seeing everything in italics like I am?

Clayton

I did mention Lucio Fulci, one of the of Italian horror greats... italics seemed like a natural progression. Good thing I didn't mention Riccardo Freda, or the letters might be upside down by now. Although I did try to disable the italics with a close tag in my last post. I'll start using quotes. But yeah, you're onto something. Maybe we can do a show about horror movies on Christmas someday. We'll have to refrain from talking about the "Silent Night, Deadly Night" series, though. Too obvious. No "Gremlins," either.

Happy Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, Festivus, Fangoria, Hallelujah!

M

Man, you should make this a more regular column (or maybe I'm just not checking often enough). I just watched Naboer and LOVED it. It was everything the Machinist should have been.

Nice mention of Martin. I am a hopeless evangelist for that movie.

whalleywhat

whoa, thanks for the jean rollin recommendation. looks better than jesus franco. boner ahoy!

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