Posts Tagged ‘Zombie Film’

Scorching the Retinas – The films of Bruno Mattei

Island of the Living Dead

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Island of the Living Dead (2006)
Italy
Director – Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)
Writers/Screenplay – Antonio Tentori, Giovani Paolucci and Bruno Mattei
Runtime – 98 minutes

 

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For those who are new to the films of Bruno Mattei, like myself, an introduction. Island of the Living Dead was the last feature Bruno Mattei completed before his passing in 2007. His filmography is vast, diverse, and much like Joe D’Amato, he has also worked under a plethora of pseudonyms touching upon soft core, exploitation, Nunsploitation, drama, adventure, science fiction/fantasy, Caligula/Nero Emperor debauchery films and the cannibalism genres (although some twenty years after their heyday).

He’s most famous for a film entitled Virus (1980) aka Hell of the Living Dead, Night of the Zombie and Zombie: Creeping Flesh. And with as many aka’s as that you can betcha’ it placed high on Thatcher’s Banned/ ”Nasties” list back in the day.

Ironically, His output oftentimes overlaps those more renowned in the same genre, both in theme and substance. Zombie 3 (1988) is an instance where he stepped in to finish a Fulci feature when the original director was forced to depart due to suffering a stroke.

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Alright, so this is a film shot somewhat recently hoping to capitalize on the aura and feel of an 80’s old school classic. The giveaways; well for one the copyright date, the names in the credits changed to give it more a European feel, but other than that it boasts a made for television, on the cheap, feel (much like a vintage Troma feature) down to the font, boldness and even the position of the credits themselves.

The movies opening scene introduces an island with a slight problem. Apparently, the locals have tired of the foreigner influence and rather than use the age-old trick of poisoning the visitors (or boring them to death with interpretive dance and the like) they decide instead to reanimated corpses via magick of the Dark variety. It works. Too damn well in fact, the undead overrun the Isle. One would think rifles would help, they don’t, but they do provide a decent enough head explosion to perk the interest of the Gorehounds among the audience early on. A character who could be a vampire is the last to be seen (I’m not sure where he figures into things, perhaps we’ll find out later?) before the scene comes to a close.

(trailer courtesy of SeverinFilms Official)

Cut to present times. A fishing boat, a crew (complete with a distinguished English gent) whose acting abilities are close only to the quality of the dubbing (it’s hilarious) and a treasure pulled from the sea. But the boat becomes damaged as the sea vomits its disgust at having the film produced upon it. The crew soon find themselves on an undersized dingy and soon upon an island with plenty of bushes (huh?) But that’s not all, there’s also ruins, a graveyard and a rotting looking chap in a Cavalier helmet who likes to grin at the camera (this makes me wonder what he’s been up to for the last four hundred years).

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The crew split. A nod to “Night of the Living Dead” and “They’re coming to get you Barbara” in not so many words is blatant but it’s the wait until the corpse is upon you until you scream and move which makes me snort with laughter. It gets better; rather than run the poor lady struggles as if to fend off an unwanted snog. The chap grunts, as if to say “well, what do you expect. It’s not as if we have mouthwash or even toothpaste, it hasn’t been invented yet or transported to this island yet”.

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Gimme a kiss

Her companions scramble I’m sure they don’t want corpse lips on their bits either but he’s a persistent bloke who’s rather good at taking punishment from an adversary whose Kung-Fu is only slightly better than his acting.

Meanwhile the ships mechanic is encountering problems of his own. A legion of round helmeted troops has arisen from the sea, without appearing wet in the slightest, to infest the engine room. The ship, I’m guessing probably the most expensive prop in the movie, goes up with a boom, crackle and pop and the crew deliberate amongst themselves as to the reasoning why without really considering the likelihood that the mechanic is still alive.

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This is in Latin, but it’s OK. I know Latin

The remainder of the team find themselves deep underground in the company of ancient texts and wouldn’t you know it one of them reads Latin. One spells out doom whilst the others are fancifully jacketed Readers Digest special Editions most probably pilfered from the nearest Goodwill.

Soon, our heroes find themselves crowded with the likes of various types who shambles and display very little in the way of rhythm. I’m guessing within their four hundred years of solitude that they didn’t learn the Salsa, the Rumba or the Macarena. Luckily the script calls for our heroes to remain mostly unscathed. They advance accompanied by the type of soundtrack one would expect to find within a fantasy-based RPG and find themselves in a fortified building, a place of worship of sorts. The locals however remain hungry.

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C’mon just a nibble. It’s been four-hundred years fer Christs sake!

The night has magically transformed into day (kudos to the continuity department, perhaps their lunch break overran?) and our band of intrepid treasure hunters are off again. Those ominous tunnels won’t discover themselves, right? One contains a plethora of doors, one with a handle which begs to be broken whilst the other a sanctuary of sorts.

Probably the best line of the movie (“Oh shit, I think it might be too risky to go this way”) takes place at about the point when one of the crew discovers that it wasn’t altogether too wise to tap a mysterious cloaked figure on the shoulder (but it was in the script) “Father, Father” only to realize ‘he’ might have in fact, been a ‘she’ after all (wrong movie? Whoops).

Traipsing through the caverns our heroes soon happening upon plentiful homage to both Edgar Allen Poe (‘Montel Agro’ (sp) a wine from one of his tales?) and Lovecraft (one of the mirrors needs a little attention as it shows a reflection which is most definitely not a reflection).  A disgruntled head in a trunk full of gold is a surprising touch as too is the brief swashbuckling score. A spot of guitar fretboard tinkering is intriguing, do corpses still have sufficient dexterity in their extremities to pull off the flamenco?

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However, it’s a scene sporting blatant Fulci (Zombie) worship, an eyeball and a wicked looking splinter, without a ‘money shot’ which might leave the majority puzzled.

Ghostly shenanigans and sudden Misfit (the band) in appearance acolyte silliness adds to a story with more holes in it than a string vest. Greed as it often does override survival instincts and the survivors continue about their merry way in utter disregard of their safety. The Isle opens up with its backstory using handy dandy stock footage from the 1600’s (wait what) and leaves only those with very scant attention still confused as to what’s going on. There’s an epidemic, the people are cursed with eternal undeath, blah, blah, blah.

Madness and hallucination prevail as it often does in times such as these and the crew start attacking each other. This threat is nothing however compared to the sudden appearance of a horde of vampires in corpse paint who’ve been hiding in plain sight the entire time.

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They’ve been here the entire time. Did you know this?

Will Sharon, Snoopy, (Captain) Kirk (Where’s Spock?), Mark, Balboa, Max and Fred survive or at least make it off the island? How is it that their names seem pulled out of a hat dedicated to 80’s celluloid and/or cartoon worship? Why does Sharon remind me of the usually-naked-in-most-films-she stars-in; Laura Gemser? Is this in part homage to The Tombs of the Blind Dead series as well to Romero? Does anyone care, is there anyone even still watching at this point? Admittedly, this is rather silly but the ending boasts a lady with surprisingly adept scythe skills (where can I find a class?), a blazing inferno and a horde of zombies who grunt and groan like lovable (but don’t fed them after midnight, or get them wet) creatures from a Joe Dante helmed Christmas movie.

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No one has ever called me a Gremlin, before now

Recommended only for those who have an adoration for the very worst, this is a feature overflowing with horrific one-liners, a script which a middle school-ager would be proud to take home to their parents, cardboard acting, makeup comprised of caked on foundation, obvious green screen effects aplenty and not nearly as much naked flesh on display as one might assume. But as much as I like to complain (I’m rather good at it) it has a certain something which can’t be denied. Is it the fact that it tries so hard to be what it so definitely isn’t? It deserves huge props in that regard, it fails but it’s delightful to watch it do so. Or is it that it’s just horrid and reminds me such of that which as a child I couldn’t get enough of. An element which dragged me into the realm of cult celluloid. I’m not entirely sure, but it has something which kept me watching, unable to caress the STOP button.

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You were expecting a pic plucked from an early Peter Jackson film?

I can’t recall the amount of times I quoted, yelling furiously at the screen, Bad Taste, whilst witnessing the antics of those in distress. Seriously…”the head shots the only true stoppa!”.

Watch this at your peril, the cover art is better than the movie itself and the pictures displayed on the back jacket about say it all without one actually watching the film. But God help me, I want more and I have four more to sit through, so be prepared for I might scribble upon each in turn in my own good time.

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – Yet another Zombie Film

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Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016)

Attack of the lederhosen Zombies

Fischer Film
Austrian Film Institute
Level 33 Entertainment
Level Film

 

Writers – Armin Prediger and Dominik Hartyl
Director – Dominik Hartyl
Runtime – 75 minutes

 

Well howdy folks.

It’s been a while, but I’m back fully recuperated and rocking regenerated, advanced, appendages. Funny story (well it might be to the most casual of reader), I’ll try to keep it short. Cults youngest offspring mistook me for a toy (do I look like a freakin’ stuffed character? Yea, well perhaps I do! A misfit Gothic cartoon character perhaps) and took time to perfect what she does best. The brat dismantled me! Then she had the gall to walk away as if nothing happened whilst asking for her juice. Brat! So, there I was left in pieces in a dark corner. Thankfully she has a tendency to hide her “kills” where her parents might not be able to immediately find them. This gave me a chance to “pull myself together”. Admittedly this might have seemed kind of strange to a toddler, a toy moving of its own accord (though in this day and age with animatronics and all the advances in manufacturing who knows. Perhaps she’s seen Dolls or Small Soldiers?

Dolls the original

A classic 

The Toy Story films are in constant rotation in the house this I know for a fact). Regardless, I wasn’t about to put myself in jeopardy it’s bad enough I’m hiding the last thing I want is extra attention, or an interview with a ‘journalist’ from ‘The Weekly World News’. But, I digress, it took a little time to knit myself together within which I’ve familiarized myself with several species of spider, roach, all manner of carnivorous dust bunny and Cult’s wife’s hair. It’s all over the damn place to the point where I believe he should charge it a portion of the rent. I’ve been languishing in the shadows one might say, but I’m all better now, fully recuperated though I’ve been avoiding the little one lest it all happen again. so back to the matter at hand. Cult has been gracious enough (though he doesn’t know it just yet) to leave me another template in which to drop my mental diarrhea. And so, I shall with a glorious splatter. The movie in question is the one mentioned above (duh) and I had the pleasure to watch both it and observe Cult and his daughter (who’s in town for the summer) while it was playing (confused yet? Pay closer attention, please).

It should come as no great surprise that Cult loves Zombie features, he has shelves full of them and even a stunning array of collections bursting with the lower budget end of what the same arena offers.

This however will my ponderances on the above-mentioned film, not his, as I’ve ‘beaten him to the punch’, as it were.

(courtesy of Film is Now movie trailers)

Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies is rather an odd name for a film, obviously there’s little left to the imagination in regards to what this is about, this isn’t a drama or a crime flick or even a comic hero action saga. This is a horror film pure and simple although its moniker suggests a theme of a fifties nature, for example, Attack of the… (fill in the blanks to your own liking) suggesting something unnatural and a rampage about to start because it/she/he is pissed or misunderstood and won’t take it anymore (insert Twisted Sister lyrics/picture/single artwork here). The trailer suggests an element of humor here and it doesn’t lead any potential audience members astray. This film bursts with levity and cannot, for the most part, be taken seriously.

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His vomit is green!

AotLZ (for short, obviously) offers a new spin on the zombie mythos, more precisely the creation of such. In a presentation, in the far reaches of a mountain range, a snow-making machine goes haywire and explodes in the face of a potential Russian (unimpressed) investor.

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Nevermind the Tupperware container, it works a charm!

The obvious happens, he turns grey, his blood, through snazzy CGI, is seen to be infected by various foreign antibodies, and his vomit is green. As luck would have it a trio of youngsters are on the same mountain, as part of a collective, shooting a promo for various unknown reasons (insert scenes of snowboarders jumping from helicopters, spinning, flipping and a plethora of yahoo antics) but after one of the three “presents” himself to a young fan, in a stunt only he thinks is funny (his parts are censored out, which leads one to believe early on that this movie might not in fact “show the goods”. We can only hope that this is constricted to nudity alone and not gore. As seriously, who watches undead films for the atmosphere this isn’t the seventies/early eighties anymore. But then again, I can see their point as to my knowledge one of the main reasons Watchmen flopped (a cleverly placed pun as you will soon see) is because of that giant blue member flopping about; is there a ‘wiener-less family version’ available I find myself wondering aloud.)

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I can do much everything apparently but wear underwear

The trio become stranded and, this should come as no great shocker, they bump into the business types and also the unhealthy-looking vodka swilling fellow. The business deal however is apparently not yet through. Franz, played convincingly by Karl Fischer, is still fighting for a signature and has an instant dislike for the teens, he has to blame someone for the fact that his scheme might not work, although it was he who operated the sub-par equipment which resulted in the poor fellow being sprayed with the peculiarly vicious nuclear appearing chemical. His is a role and attitude which only adds to the difficulties the survivors have to traverse. He has his goals and he will damn well do what he has to in order that they are accomplished to his satisfaction, even if it means drastic results for those (and the immediate community) around him “What happens on this mountain stays on this mountain”.

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Get orff my grass!

The film continues. It’s the final night of festivities in a local bar, as the season will soon be over, and the place is packed. You might say there’s plenty of ripe flesh for the ripping. And to not put too much of a spoiler on things this happens. Flesh is ripped gouged, shredded, torn and has all manner of other things done to it. Shit, there’s even a death scene in a toilet, the main Frau (who becomes a large part of the film as it nears its climax) ‘taps’ a zombie, utilizes ski-poles to great advantage (“Now you see me…”) and breaks out a snowblower in much the same way Lionel used a lawnmower in Dead Alive. In fact, even early on one could say that this channels that and based on its premise and location another classic in the same genre, Dead Snow. Although the mention of Nazis is nil and there’s absolutely zero ‘Down Under’ accents detected throughout the film.

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Because no zombie film article is complete without a mention, or picture, of Dead Snow

Much like the two aforementioned features the humor is also a huge part in this feature. A terror fueled vibe is abruptly torn asunder when one of the teenagers is heard conversing in unhurried tones with his cousin in a dialect no one can understand (rather than call for help). His companions look at him in confusion only to ask “care to tell what that phone call was about?” when he’s through. He responds quite unperturbed that he was talking to a zombie obsessed family member on “How to kill them…though, it all depends on which zombie movie we’re in.” The main Frau, also known as Rita portrayed by Margarete Tiesel, also appears to be confused as to why people are acting the way they are. Although there is a language barrier the situation is soon explained to her understanding “Not rabies, not ‘Alcho-pops’. But, Zombies”.

Further comical moments, which are surprisingly well executed throughout, include the undead swaying to local Swiss music which appears to placate them, several vengeful, subtitles which transform one languages goodbye into another languages which mean the same thing rather than the dialect one might have expected, “rabid” deer (with a thirst for the same liquid which turned the Russian gent), a snowboarding zombie, a slew of scenes with the aforementioned snowblower (the gore quotient isn’t lost on this film, thank the Dark Lord!) There’s a huge blender scene too as if the crew has a boner (I know I do!) for the classic kung-fu masterpiece that is The Story of Ricki-O.

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C’mon, give me a kiss

A suspension scene featuring ski poles is to my knowledge a first and is guaranteed to be replicated as it is truly a remarkable feat. But let us not forget the small touches. The antagonists sport a Gremlin-esque nature and exhibit groans, squeals, and chirps much like the mischievous little critters Joe Dante helped create. This element is too, I believe, yet another nod to Jackson’s Brain Dead (aka Dead Alive) as it can heard there, most especially with the scenes Selwyn feature in but also in the Priest/Nurse romance sequence (which if you have yet to witness is a must watch, much like the film in its entirety).

The soundtrack is another element which deserves celebration, adding to moments of tension with surprising additions to its already commendation audio accompaniment; instances of both Carpenteresque and Goblinesque synth crop up to add an air of ominous nature and naturally nostalgia to the viewing experience, especially for veteran genre fans. A fiery bar scene is set to audio which sounds as if it were plucked directly from the score of Fulci’s Zombie (aka Zombie 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters).

Attack of the lederhopsen zombie nod to Fulci

Another nod to Fulci comes in the form of rising from the traditional ‘grave’

Even the credits boast somewhat of a Jean Michele Jarre (probably spelt that wrong!) vibe which could well toss most back a few decades to a slew of action epics (I’d even toss Return of the Living Dead in here too although I know it wasn’t heralded by a JMJ score)  which are strangely finding somewhat of a recent resurgence in the form of wearable cotton attire.

However, you care to slice it, rip it, tear it, this turned out a whole sight better than I first imagined it might. It boasts comedy (which works well) it has a buddy vibe which seems natural and even role reversal in the form of two characters who might appear at first rather helpless. Although a bar scene in which Branka (one of the teens with an unfortunate name played by Gabriela Marcinkova) slams a ‘predatory’ local’s face against a table is priceless. Rita manages to steal most every scene she’s in with her antics, naivety and later her willingness to adapt to the situation at hand.

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I’ve never had this view of my belt before now!

The practical effects herein are also a huge plus. Far from what one might expect from their forays into the lower budget of the arena AotLZ delivers. Chekov’s, the investing Russian, early flesh transformation, after the soaking, from pallid (its cold there I would imagine) to boils and a rotten composition is a great early indication as to how the movie might progress. Later effects prove the hopeful assumption/prediction to be fruitful and as the film progresses it provides its audience with a virtual smorgasbord of decapitations, flattened skulls, full body shredding antics and eviscerations all slathered in undeniable joviality.

attack-of-the-lederhosen-zombies theres even a death on the potty

There’s even a death scene on the potty

Sure, AotLZ has a few flaws, it only runs barely over seventy minutes in length; I want more carnage! The lighting is at times a tad insufficient in displaying all of the gore, which is admittedly par for the course, the snowboarding carnage montage is a little too long and artsy and a few of the scenes appear a tad crowded. But overall these are tiny gripes within a gem of a film I wholehearted recommend, a feature which will make a fantastic addition to anyone’s already bursting at the seams undead celluloid collection, time to buy another shelving unit Cult!

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Margarete Tiesel plays Rita and steals every scene she’s in!

What more is there to say? Well, I for one wouldn’t take heed of IMDB’s abysmally low rating. To be honest I usually don’t, unless I’m in the market for flashing images in a sequence to lull me to sleep (which my current predicament doesn’t allow me to do). Go into this blind. Well, not blind obviously, this takes away from the sheer joy of seeing images on a screen but go into this with no preamble (but take note of what I’ve written. Huh, this doesn’t make sense in the slightest!)  and only then will you be able to have fun.

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That’s it, I’m done. And about time too I can hear the little one stirring. Time to hide.

 

B

 

Editor’s Note.

I know not who does this or from whose mind these words originate. But I’ll admit I’m appreciative of the assistance so I’ll leave this here.