Archive for Zombies

World War Z (2013) Review

Posted in World War Z with tags , , , on October 19, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Remember Philly

Release Date- June 21st, 2013

Running Time- 123-Minutes

Rating- PG-13

Screenplay- Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof (Novel- Max Brooks)

Director- Marc Forster

Starring- Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Fana Mokoena, David Morse, James Badge Dale

Going into World War Z I kind of expected the worst since I’m not into modern Hollywood films with very few exceptions. It seems once the Michael Bay era started Hollywood took a nosedive and I avoid most modern films, but I do find it kind of cool a zombie film is a Hollywood summer blockbuster. While zombie films have always been popular its now that Hollywood has fully embraced these films, but when all is said and done World War Z is the typical soulless modern day Hollywood film, which is quite a shame since the first 20-minutes were excellent and I thought perhaps World War Z was one of the exceptions, but it ended up being typical Hollywood though maybe slightly better than the bulk of the garbage Hollywood releases. Like I said I felt Hollywood started going downhill once Michael Bay got started, but since 2000 I can honestly say I have a strong dislike for most modern Hollywood and even the Indie scene isn’t what it once was (at least in the horror genre that is). It seems most of the big budget Hollywood films have zero story, boring characters and it’s just explosion after explosion and while it might be pretty to look at its forgettable and World War Z fits right into that category.

World War Z was rated PG-13, which got some negative comments. Horror films don’t need a ton of violence and gore to be effective. The Universal Monster films while no longer scary are still however effective chillers. Even a film like John Carpenter’s Halloween, which is R-rated so maybe its not the best example, but the most effective eerie scenes in the film don’t always feature any violence and even the ones that do aren’t graphic at all. Slasher films and in this case zombie films do work better with an R-rating whereas other horror films can work without an R, but I don’t think the PG-13 rating hurt WWZ at all. There is violence and while not overly graphic still works. As I mentioned with the first 20-minutes it wasn’t violence that made it work, but the mass confusion and struggle to find a safe place and stay alive. The one thing though I very much liked about WWZ is there isn’t really any comedy. I like my zombie films played straight. I’m not against any comedy, but since Return of the Living Dead in 1985 it seemed every zombie film was comedic than with Shaun of the Dead that trend continued. I love both those films, but I miss the days when zombie films were played straight and it seems those are few and far between.

Former UN worker Gerry Lane (Pitt) is trying to figure out what is causing people to turn into zombies and how to stop it in hopes to save his family and the world.

The screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof is your typical big budget Hollywood film. Characters lack depth and are quite boring. The script gets off to a very strong start, but quickly goes downhill. While the premise to the film might be solid the writing however is just a bit sloppy. Maybe sloppy isn’t the right word since WWZ isn’t poorly written its just that the script isn’t very interesting during the good bulk of the middle.

Director Marc Forster does a great job within the first 20-minutes as World War Z is quite intense, fast paced, exciting and suspenseful. However after that WWZ slows down and Forster is unable to get the film back on track. Pacing is quite an issue as at 123-minutes the film is far too long. There are some fairly effective scenes, but by the time they came around I already lost my interest and really didn’t care anymore. While Forster delivers a well made film the pacing is a problem and due to that the film lacks excitement and thrills. If WWZ ran at about 100-minutes I think I would have liked it a bit more as it would eliminate the poor pacing and while Forster could have done a little more with the tone of the film it wouldn’t have helped much due to the length if the film.

It’s quite a shame World War Z turned out the way it did since the opening 20-minutes were great, but it soon becomes the typical Hollywood film of the era. However despite my review I didn’t hate WWZ and it does have a few things to offer, but the running time pretty much derailed it. If you’re into the big Hollywood blockbusters than by all means seek this out, but if you’re more like me and tend to avoid modern Hollywood since as stated I dislike the good bulk, WWZ isn’t the film that will change your mind and make you wanna see more. With some editing WWZ would have been better, but not great. But as it stands at best WWZ is average, but for me just a step below average.



















Day of the Dead (1985) Review

Posted in Day of the Dead with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


**** Out of 5

Tagline- The Darkest Day the Horror World Has Ever Known

Release Date- July 19th, 1985

Running Time- 102-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- George A. Romero

Starring- Lori Cardille, Joseph Pilato, Terry Alexander, Anthony Dileo, Jr, Gary Howard Klar, Ralph Marrero with Richard Liberty as Dr. Logan and Sherman Howard as Bub

Released in 1985 George Romero’s Day of the Dead was seen as the weakest of the trilogy (when it was still a trilogy that is) and it’s not really hard to grasp why. Upon first viewing of Day of the Dead it isn’t as eerie and creepy as Night of the Living Dead and isn’t quite the epic that Dawn of the Dead was; also released the same year was The Return of the Living Dead, which was a fun take on a tired sub-genre and Romero’s Day of the Dead was mostly forgotten about and cast aside and the only things that really kept the movie known was the name George A. Romero, Tom Savini and that it was a sequel to Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.

I’ll admit I was one of the people that casted this movie to the side as a nice try, but ultimately a failure on the record of George Romero and about the only real positive thing I could say about the movie was the brilliant gore F/X by Tom Savini. But over the years many people were revisiting Day of the Dead and suddenly the feedback was becoming and more positive where some have even hailed it better than both Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Dead. For the longest time the movie sat on my shelf and the only reason I even bought a copy was simply to complete the trilogy, but after collecting dust on my shelf I wiped it away and decided to give the movie another chance and even I had my opinion on the film totally changed; personally I don’t rate this higher than the first 2 films in the series, but it comes close however.

I think the writing in not just Romero’s zombie flicks, but his films in general is often over-looked and fact of the matter George Romero is an excellent writer. Everyone talks about George Romero the director and for good reason, but I really think more attention needs to be put on his scripts; the characters in Night of the Living Dead were interesting and Ben made for a great hero and Mr. Cooper made for a great jerk, but overall the characters may not be the best developed, but due to the plot it doesn’t matter. Even with the dead coming back to life we are still in a comfort zone since the primary setting is a house and all these characters are brought together and we feel the mass confusion with them and therefore we can relate to them and with Dawn of the Dead in my opinion Romero created the best characters as a unit in a horror film or any film for that matter. We the audience get attached to these characters and the mall setting is something that we can all relate to.

I think however this is part of the reason Day of the Dead was dismissed for the longest time since now we are in an underground bunker out of our comfort zone and stuck with characters that aren’t the most likable and the other characters are so close to going over the edge or borderline insane it’s kinda hard to find someone we the audience can root for and relate to. But when you really break things down George Romero creates some of his most complex characters if not his most complex; Day of the Dead relies more on the characters than any of the other Dead flicks. Night of the Living Dead isn’t action packed or anything, but what works is the mass confusion the characters feel and Dawn of the Dead while character driven also has a lot of action in the film whereas Day of the Dead has a little action through the movie, but it’s mostly saved for the final act and seeing as the characters are so different than the first two Dead flicks I can understand why I and so many others originally dismissed Day of the Dead.

Of all the Dead movies I think Day of the Dead just might be the best written and just might be George Romero’s best screenplay in his career. Like I said the characters here may not be as likable as the characters in the past two, but they are again very complex and interesting and Day of the Dead also starts to evolve the zombies as well, which is something a lot of filmmakers have attempted, but it almost always fails, but Romero on the other hand makes it work, which adds a lot of depth to the movie.

When rating the series Day of the Dead would be my 3rd favorite of the series, but there are many aspects I like more about Day of the Dead than Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Many people now rate this as the best of the series so it’s quite a drastic change in opinion on the movie.

As director George A. Romero crafts a movie a movie loaded with tension and a very bleak tone. Of all the Dead movies I’d say this one was probably the darkest. From the very opening scene, Romero establishes a bleak and dark tone with humanity at its final stand. As I stated before the action is mostly confined until the final act, but Romero is still able to keep the movie very interesting; again I think due to the characters and setting so different than the previous two it might be a little harder to get into, which is partly the reason for the longest time this was seen as the weakest. But when all is said and done George Romero creates a dark and ugly world where almost all hope for a normal life is lost. Once again if I’d rate this installment my 3rd favorite I think the writing is possibly the best of the series as well as the directing.

Possibly the highlight of the movie are the gore F/X by Tom Savini, which are nothing short of amazing; if I were to rate Savini’s work Friday the 13th might take my top spot simply due to the simplicity of the death scenes they simple, but effective, and of course the Prowler is nothing short of brilliant, but at the same time Day of the Dead might take my top spot due to how realistic they look for the most part. Not only are the gore F/X top notch, but the zombie make-up is amazing as well. Regardless of how you feel about the movie itself I think we can all agree Savini’s make-up F/X are brilliant.

Overall Day of the Dead is an excellent movie that has finally gotten its respect; the movie may not be perfect, but it’s very much on par with the first two Dead flicks.














The Living Dead Girl (1982) Review

Posted in Living Dead Girl with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


*** Out of 5

Release Date- 1982

Running Time- 91-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Jacques Ralf & Jean Rollin

Director- Jean Rollin

Starring- Francoise Blanchard, Marina Pierro, Mike Marshall, Carina Barone

Released in 1982 The Living Dead Girl is an interesting film as its sort of a vampire/zombie hybrid with some violent deaths in tune with that of a slasher movie. The Living Dead Girl Catherine Valmont (Blanchard) returns from the dead thus making it a zombie movie, but she feeds off human blood making it a bit of a vampire flick. It also had a touch of Frankenstein; like how the Monster never asked to be created, Catherine never asked to be brought back to life and like the Monster she’s quite sympathetic as she knows she no longer belongs in this world.

While I’ve seen some of Jean Rollin’s films before, but its been a while and when I started back up it was with Zombie Lake, which was one of the worst films ever made, but oddly enjoyable at times and The Living Dead Girl comes 1-year later and what a difference in filmmaking and its hard to believe the same person who made this made also made Zombie Lake. While The Living Dead Girl won’t go down as one of the greats it’s an interesting and well made movie and unlike most films of its time it doesn’t knockoff Romero or Fulci and Living Dead Girl might be the most original zombie movie of the 80s. While its always good to avoid cliches the only problem I have with the film is it doesn’t really have an identity since again its a zombie/vampire hybrid and it seems, Rollin was unsure what he wanted to make so he made both. In his career, Jean Rollin is best known for his vampire flicks so I suppose he felt the need to add a little of that in Living Dead Girl.

Thieves enter the tomb of Catherine Valmont to steal her jewels and also store some toxic waste in the crypt. An earthquake hits and spills the toxic waste and the gases resurrect Catherine who dispatches of the thieves. She than heads back to her old mansion. She ends up coming across her childhood friend Helene (Pierro) who tricks people in coming back to the mansion so Catherine can feed and will do anything to keep Catherine’s resurrection a secret, but a when a photographer spots Catherine and begins taking pictures of her only to find out Catherine is supposed to be dead she begins to investigate what’s going on.

The screenplay by Jacques Ralf & Jean Rollin is actually quite interesting since as mentioned it plays up to both zombie and vampire elements and while the characters lack depth and the script unsure of exactly what it is the film is fairly well written. None of the characters standout except Catherine who as the script goes on becomes quite sympathetic. Catherine is able to retain memories of her life while alive and as the film goes on even is able to speak as well. There also comes a point when Catherine realizes she doesn’t belong in this world and no longer wants to kill anybody. I’d say Ralf & Rollin had to be heavily inspired by Frankenstein since it takes so many aspects of it. In some ways the script can also be seen as a love story of sorts since it seems there is something deeper to Catherine and Helene’s relationship than just friends or that’s how I saw it. What’s also interesting is there really isn’t any real villain either; Catherine starts off as one, but as the film goes on you begin to feel bad for her and if anything Helene is the real villain as she tricks people into going to the mansion for Catherine to feed and even kills people who can expose her secret, but Helene is also just trying to protect the person she deeply cares about even if she is committing murder its done more than just being evil. Quite honestly I didn’t really expect anything like this out of the script and while sure characters are one dimensional, the plotting a little uneven the script also has some deeper aspects that might be lost on some or perhaps I’m looking into things too much.

As director Jean Rollin delivers a solid film, but with many flaws. In general Living Dead Girl is well made, but the pacing at times can be quite sluggish. Everything starts off well enough, but as the film goes on and strays from any action for quite a bit things do begin to slow down and while I wouldn’t say I was bored it wasn’t very exciting either. The majority of the film is shot during the day, which does hinder the suspense and while the final act is nighttime it’s also very brightly lit as well. Living Dead Girl has some great settings, but Rollin never uses it to its fullest potential as the film for the most part does lack eerie atmosphere and the suspense can be a little weak for the most part, but despite these problems, Rollin does deliver a mostly well made film that can at times as I said be sluggish in its pacing. When there is action, Rollin does deliver the goods with some great gore and outside of 1 or 2 gore scenes they all look great. I’m not very well schooled on the career of Jean Rollin despite knowing who he is, but based on what I have seen I never thought he could deliver a deep film that actually made feel bad for Catherine and the ending is quite tragic and really stuck with me as well.

Overall the Living Dead Girl was a much better film than I expected it and while the film has enough flaws to prevent me from rating this too highly it is a film I would recommend and while the film as a whole isn’t strong enough to overcome the flaws it also has enough going for it to make it a solid film.












Zombie Lake (1981) Review

Posted in Zombie Lake with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- God Help Us If They Rise Again

Release Date- May 13th, 1981

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Julius Valery & A.L. Mariaux (Julian Esteban, Jesus Franco)

Director- J.A. Laser (Jean Rollin)

Starring- Howard Vernon, Pierre Escourrou, Antonio Mayans, Nadine Pascale, Burt Altman

I think I should get some kind of reward for sitting through Zombie Lake because to say this movie is bad would be a major under statement. I could be taken hostage by terrorists and tortured for hours upon hours and I would laugh in their faces and say this is nothing I sat through Zombie Lake! I think if you wanna get answers from criminals or terrorists simply put them in a room play Zombie Lake and within minutes they would be talking. However with all that said the film is just downright hysterical; I was in complete awe at how bad this film was that I don’t think words can fully describe it. The really scary thing is I think I would actually be open to watching it again perhaps even adding it to my collection. When a film is such a hack job like Zombie Lake its quite difficult to fully hate the film. And make no mistake Zombie Lake is a hack job and easily one of the worst films you can ever sit through, but despite how bad the movie was it still provides plenty of laughs in how truly awful it was.

Released in 1981 Zombie Lake came out during a time when it seemed every horror flick was either a slasher or zombie movie. And while the slasher film had an edge zombies weren’t too far behind and whenever something in the horror genre is a success everybody gets in on it, which after a while leads us to some truly horrible films. Zombie Lake is truly bottom of the barrel cinema and I can’t even fully begin to explain what a hack job this was from the writing, directing, music, F/X and the acting and its no surprise that so many involved used an alias or denied being involved with the film since I would as well, but with that said only in the horror genre can a film be this terrible, but yet fun as well.

If anything I think this film was made just to have women get naked. The film opens with a woman getting fully naked and going for a swim in the lake and you see everything and I mean everything! When she’s under water her legs spread a part yeah you get the picture. Later in the film a bunch of girls go swimming and again you see everything including yes again their naughty part. I have zero complaints, but I am sure the 12-year old in would have rated this a 5 simply for that (the 30 something in me wants to rate it higher due to that). While the film doesn’t really go for sleaze, but due to these shots it does get a bit sleazy. While I don’t need to see this in a film I do miss the days when filmmakers weren’t afraid to show everything.

The film is set in France during the 50s (while my knowledge of 1950s France is quite low I doubt it looked like this), but there is a lake where Nazi soldiers were killed and dumped into the lake, but of course they come back as zombies and kill anyone nearby.

The screenplay was written by Julian Esteban under the name Julius Valery and Jesus Franco under the name A.L. Mariaux. To say their script is horrible is putting it very mildly. This has to rate as one of the dumbest screenplays ever written and its quite amazing how two people could actually write this. All the characters are complete idiots and everything is just well horrible. There are also long stretches without any dialogue and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing! However in between all idiocy and terrible dialogue there is actually some decent ideas if you can believe that. The script also takes place during WWII and we have a love story between a German solider and French woman and they have a child. This one solider zombie is even more evolved than others and seems to retain some memories and he even tries to protect a little girl that has some kind of connection to a woman from his past. We later find out the little girl is actually his daughter. But you even have evolved zombie fight another zombie. Actually this really wasn’t a bad idea, but the film is such a hack job rather than be deep and dramatic its laughable and like I have said before unless you’re George A. Romero keep your zombies mindless since it always fails with the smart zombies. Only Romero can pull that off and even Romero out times can sort of miss with that. The script is downright pathetic and I have to assume Esteban and Franco knew exactly what they were writing.

Originally the film was also to be directed by Jesus Franco and for some reason he ended up not making it and in his place came Jean Rollin who than apparently regretted it after reading the script and for many years denied having anything to do with the film. Rollin used the alias J.A. Laser. I know of Jean Rollin or should I say J.A. Laser, but I haven’t seen a lot of his work and what I have seen its been many years. The direction by Rollin is horrible to say the least. I think its clear he had no passion for the film as he knew no filmmaker could salvage this mess of a script and he never really tries and it seems the scenes with the women naked are the only times any effort was put it. The film is a bit sloppy in its pacing as at times the film is so bad its almost unwatchable and other moments its such a hack job its a lot of fun. The death scenes are the same for the most part and quite often hysterical. When some of the characters die the acting is so bad its some of the funniest scenes you’ll ever see. Jean Rollin crafts one of the worst films ever made, but like I said when a film is this much of a hack job its really difficult to fully hate.

How about the F/X? The zombie makeup is so cheap looking it looks as if green paint was applied and to be totally honest anybody could get the same results if they tried. The zombies look like skinny versions of the Incredible Hulk!

I was at times in awe at how bad Zombie Lake was; the reviews you may have read are legit. However unlike many other others I had fun with this. There are moments when the film is just plain bad and not in a fun way, but its such a hack job I can’t help, but have a soft spot for it. Zombie Lake easily goes down as one of the worst films ever made, but if you can sit back and relax and poke fun of the movie you might find yourself entertained at times.














Zombie High (1987) Review

Posted in Zombie High with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2013 by Last Road Reviews



** Out of 5

Tagline- Where the Teachers and Students Never Die

Release Date- October 2nd, 1987

Running Time- 90-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Tim Doyle, Aziz Ghazal & Elizabeth Passarelli

Director- Ron Link

Starring- Virginia Madsen, Paul Feig, Sherilyn Fenn, Scott Coffey, James Wilder

Released in 1987 Zombie High is a forgotten long OOP movie that actually has a pretty good cast with Virginia Madsen, Sherilyn Fenn and Paul Feig who is probably best known for his writing on the cult show Freaks and Geeks, but despite the cast not many remember Zombie High. The film was released at a time when the tide was starting to turn a bit on the horror genre as the slasher film was on the decline and even zombie films as well. After the success of Return of the Living Dead in 1985, zombie films took a more comedic approach and while a popular film people forget how influential it was. Zombie High takes a light and fun approach rather than horror.

Based off the title you’re probably expecting zombies going around attacking people at a high school right? Well you’d be wrong as the title is very misleading. First off they really aren’t zombies and are nothing like the Romero themed zombies. If anything it’s more like the pre-Romero zombies and even than they are quite different. Think more along the lines of Invasion of the Body Snatchers without aliens; if anything this shares a little in common with Disturbing Behavior. Its not until the final act we actually have zombies and they’re in tune with the Romero zombies. But mostly I wouldn’t even label them zombies for the most part. Also it isn’t set at a high school, but instead a college campus, but I guess Zombie High sounds better than Zombie Dorm. While zombie films may have been declining a bit in terms of box office success they were still profitable enough and the makers of Zombie High were trying to cash in.

Andrea (Madsen) gets accepted to a college that at one point was just for men, soon after arriving she begins to notice some of the students acting stranger and than learns of the deadly plot by the faculty.

The screenplay by Tim Doyle, Aziz Ghazal & Elizabeth Passarelli gets off to an entertaining start with cliched, but fun characters, but it quickly loses its fun and the script gets lifeless and even worse boring. Characters are dull and even though the film does have an interesting premise it never goes anywhere and ends up quite silly.

Director Ron Link starts off well enough as Zombie High establishes a fun tone to start out, but as the film goes on, Link is unable to elevate the movie and we get a sluggishly paced film that’s boring and lifeless. In general the film is played light, but when Link does opt for suspense it falls flat.

About the only real positive is the cast and I was surprised to see a few well known faces. Virginia Madsen is fun in her role though looks a little too old for an 18-year old. Sherilyn Fenn and Paul Feig are also fun in their roles, but like Madsen given little to do for the majority of the film.

Zombie High started off well enough, but quickly begins to unravel and becomes quite a chore to sit through and I can’t say I’m shocked its so forgotten. The premise was interesting and normally something I like in a film, but it doesn’t work well here. As stated except for 1 brief scene they really aren’t zombies so if that’s what you’re expecting you might be letdown. The film is bound to hit its mark with some, but for me it was a failure.

Burial Ground (1981) Review

Posted in Burial Ground with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2013 by Last Road Reviews



*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- When the Moon Turns Red the Dead Shall Rise

Release Date- July 9th, 1981

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Piero Regnoli

Director- Andrea Bianchi

Starring- Karin Well, Gian Luigi Chirizzi, Peter Bark, Maria Angela Giordan

There are bad movies and than there are movies on a whole other playing ground such as films like Last Slumber Party and films like this from 1981 Burial Ground, which is one of the ultimate so bad it’s good movies. The film was made by Andrea Bianchi and besides this film the only other film I have seen by him is the ultra sleazy Strip Nude for Your Killer; besides those two movies I also saw Lucio Fulci’s Cat in the Brain, which features gore footage from some of his later films as well as other films he was involved with and one of them being from a film called Nightmare directed by Andrea Bianchi. Strip Nude for Your Killer was a fairly well made movie that put more energy into sleaze rather than suspense, but it did have some decent tension and in terms of style it’s hard to believe the same person made this film and the only thing they have in common is at times sleaze. Burial Ground is such a hack job it’s impossible not to love this movie.

The plot has something to do with some professor and some discovery he made and he invites a few people over to tell them about it. Unless I missed it I’m not sure anything is made clear in regards to the discovery or the connection between the professor and his guests, but who really cares honestly? I don’t think any of us go into Burial Ground for its plot. I often wonder when it comes to a movie like Burial Ground what the writer thought after the script was completed? Did the writer think he wrote a really good film or was the hack writing intentional? When watching Burial Ground one would have to assume everything was intentional but you’d be surprised. The script is absolutely hysterical with some of the worst best writing ever.

Writer Piero Regnoli delivers one of the most awesomely bad screenplays in all of cult cinema. Obviously there is no character development at all nor do the characters have any depth, but who really cares? All the characters are entertaining because they either do or say the dumbest things. Here’s a sample of some of the awesome dialogue;

‘You look just like a little whore, but I like that in a girl’ (someday I’ll have to use that as a pickup line and see if it works). We also have the amazing ‘You’re getting a raise out of me alright, but it has nothing to do with money’. Now tell me is that not brilliant writing?

What Burial Ground might be most famous for is Peter Bark as Michael; Peter looks like a mini-Dario Argento and he’s playing a child, but its clear he was at least in his late 20s. Peter Bark has built up quite the following from this film and nobody seems to have any clue where he is now or if he’s even still alive. Michael also really loves his mother, but not in a normal way. Michael is jealous seeing his mother with another man and one scene has Michael kissing his mother only not in a way you kiss your mom than he begins to slide his hand up her dress! And when his mother wants no part of it, Michael responds with ‘What’s wrong? I’m your son’. The screenplay is again hysterical and I have to assume much of what we have was intentional. Piero Regnoli according to the IMDb has 111 writing credits and looking through them the only ones I seem to know are Nightmare City and Lucio Fulci’s Demonia and neither of those come anywhere near the brilliance of Burial Ground.

Director Andrea Bianchi delivers a film that is so bad its damn brilliant! The pace though can be a bit sluggish as its basically the same scene over and over again, but the film is actually action packed as the zombie action starts quickly. Bianchi crafts such a hack job the film is just way too much fun. Much like Strip Nude for Your Killer, Burial Ground can be quite sleazy at times and the scene most talked about is the nipple ripping scene, which has to be seen to be believed! Like I said in the opening my review besides this film the only other film I know by Bianchi is Strip Nude for Your Killer ad of course that’s not counting the gore scenes from Nightmare used in Fulci’s Cat in the Brain, but based of the 2 films I’ve seen by Bianchi I am a fan. While Strip Nude for Your Killer actually had some nice moments of suspense mixed with the sleaze, the suspense and tension in Burial Ground are so silly and campy and rather than feeling the suspense you’ll be laughing at how absurd it is. The zombies also stray from the norm as we see them using teamwork at times and even using battering rams, which Nightmare City also featured scenes like that, which I assume has more to do with Piero Regnoli since he wrote both films.

The zombies look quite silly and really aren’t very menacing in the least, but even with the silly makeup F/X they still look kinda cool and there is a nice amount of gore scenes as well. Burial Ground pretty much has it all; gore, zombies, hysterical dialogue, nudity and Peter Bark! If you love silly and campy horror movies Burial Ground is a must! This rates as one of my all time favorite cult movies!





















Black Demons (1991) Review

Posted in Black Demons with tags , , , , on October 15, 2012 by Last Road Reviews



** Out of 5

Release Date- 1991

Running Time- 88-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Olga Pehar

Director- Umberto Lenzi

Starring- Keith Van Hoven, Joe Balogh, Sonia Curtis, Phillip Murray, Juliana Teixeira, Maria Alves

While I’m far from an expert on Umberto Lenzi, Black Demons is the 4th film by him I have seen. I wouldn’t say he is a great filmmaker, but he does know how to make an enjoyable movie that has enough gore and or sleaze to make up for any shortcomings he has as a filmmaker. Black Demons though in my opinion was pretty much a waste. While it did have the so bad its good moments, as a whole it was just bad really bad. I knew what kind of movie I was getting, but based on what I have seen from Umberto Lenzi I was expecting a mindless gore-fest, but sadly that’s not what I got well besides the mindless part.

The screenplay written by Olga Pehar was simply horrible; the horror genre may not always be known for the scripts, but this was just bad. The dialogue is cringe worthy. The characters were terrible; while the concept was fairly decent I suppose nothing in the screenplay works at all. The dialogue is just idiotic everything is well idiotic. Black Demons is one of the worst written horror flicks I’ve come across and I’ve seen my fair share of badly written horror movies.

Umberto Lenzi is unable to build up much tension or atmosphere. The scenes are poorly paced and lack any tension throughout. Black Demons runs at about 90-min, but quite honestly it feel a hell of a lot longer than that. Umberto Lenzi can craft a sleazy fun time, but here he just falls flat. The biggest problem is the lack of action. The longer the movie goes without any the more boring it gets. In general what I’ve seen from Lenzi I wouldn’t say they were exactly suspense filled movies, but here nothing works at all and after watching Black Demons it’s no surprise Lenzi’s career would go down the drain along with Italian horror. By this time Lenzi was nothing more than a hack and I suppose one can say he always was, but at least he was an entertaining hack as Cannibal Ferox is a fun movie that knocks off Cannibal Holocaust and while Holocaust is the better movie I actually prefer Ferox, but I also saw that first, but nothing here in Black Demons works at all and again Lenzi may not be a great filmmaker, but could craft a fun movie, but not here.

The acting was weak, which is to be expected but I have seen worse, but Philip Murray has to rate as one of the very worst actors I have ever seen. From the way he delivers his lines, to his movements and facial expressions he was just bad. But with that said he does help the movie in ways and helps it have the so bad its good moments. Without Phillip Murray’s terrible acting Black Demons would have been a complete waste of time. Phillip Murray was amazingly bad no doubt he’s one of the very worst actors of all time and due to that he can make the movie a little fun. The scariest thing about Black Demons is the rest of the actors come across as fairly decent when compared to Phillip Murray. I wasn’t expecting Oscar worthy acting, but this one was pretty damn bad as far as acting goes.

Black Demons released in 1991 in many ways is the last of the 80s horror film. The movie really does look like something out of the 80s, but also what people have to remember is even though the decade ends it normally takes a year or 2 before films begin to change. So this was released sometime in 1991 so the 80s style was still there in most horror flicks at this time. But if I didn’t know any better I would think this was made in the 80s and just left on the shelf.

Despite the title Black Demons this is a zombie flick and like Lenzi’s Nightmare City he likes to mix things up. In many ways this is sort of a slasher flick meets a zombie flick. There is a scene with one zombie stalking one of the characters and when there is a knock at the door the zombie backs off. Also the zombies prefer to use weapons as well. That’s about the only positive thing I can say about Black Demons is that is tries to be different than what dominated at this time, which was either a knock off of George Romero or Lucio Fulci or sometimes both.

Black Demons also goes under the title of Demons 3, which makes people think this was a sequel to Lamberto Bava’s Demons flicks. But the title Demons 3 was thrown on for marketing and is in no way connected that series.

Bottom line is Black Demons is a very poor movie; it’s too slow paced at times and when there is action it really doesn’t help much. The couple of gore scenes are fairly decent, but cannot save the movie. As much as I love Italian horror by this time it was clear the horror industry in Italy was pretty much dead except for a couple of filmmakers who were able to make some good movies. I really can’t think of many positive things to say about Black Demons and while you can do far worse in my opinion this one is a skipper. Perhaps one day I will revisit this, but not anytime soon.







Zombie 4: After Death (1990) Review

Posted in Zombie 4: After Death with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


** Out of 5

Release Date- July 27th, 1990

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Rossella Drudi

Director- Claudio Fragasso (As Clyde Anderson)

Starring- Jeff Stryker, Candice Daly, Alex McBride, Jim Gaines

By this time the Italian horror film industry was on a major decline and Zombie 4: After Death was one of the very worst from the late 80s. Obviously we’re watching this movie to see a so bad it’s good movie and well you sort of get that, but for the most part you simply get a bad film, while there are some moments that are so bad they are fun they are few and far between, but for the most part After Death is just simply a terrible film from a terrible filmmaker. Zombie 4: After Death is billed as a sequel to Fulci’s Zombie AKA Zombie 2 and Zombie 3. But the Zombie 4 title was just thrown on for a marketing ploy.

When you have Claudio Fragasso as the director you should know what to expect. He is what would be labeled a hack. Granted he never had much of a budget, but in the horror genre does that really matter? There are filmmakers out there who aren’t good storytellers, but can put together a well-made movie. Sometimes it’s the luxury of a budget that helps make your movie enjoyable. But in the horror genre, some of the very best were made on low budgets. You could give Fragasso 100-million dollars and his movies would still look poor and come out poor.

The script by Rossella Drudi is lousy, but has she ever written a good screenplay? The script is just really poor and not in a good way where it’s fun. The characters are total idiots and often do the most idiotic things. Sometimes that is part of the fun, but not here. It’s kind of funny, Claudio Fragasso is best known for working with the late Bruno Mattei who in his own right was also a bad filmmaker, it was a match made in bad movie heaven. And Rossella Drudi is actually the wife of Claudio Fragasso. Kind of fitting they would marry each other isn’t it? Horror films often have idiotic characters, but sometimes it’s just annoying and in After Death it’s just that annoying.

Director Claudio Fragasso (under the name Clyde Anderson) fails at pretty much every turn. It’s obvious he had no passion for this project and it very much shows. There are moments when Fragasso attempts some suspense and scares, but they don’t work very well. Bottom line is Fragasso isn’t a good filmmaker. He lacks any storytelling skills and his movies are also poorly made. But he does have his fans; he’s one of those guys that can craft a so bad its good movie. Though for me, his movies are just bad. The pacing is boring as there are many scenes where nothing really happens and After Death lacks any real excitement. The zombies look and move terrible; They range from fast moving to really slow, some talk and some don’t. Seems like Fragasso couldn’t make up his mind on what he wanted to do. Actually the zombies aren’t very zombie like. They at times come out more demonic, think Evil Dead and others seem more like humans infected with some kind of disease now think George A. Romero’s The Crazies.

One of the main reasons to watch this kind of film is for the gore, but the gore is actually tame and when there is gore it’s not very well done. The make-up F/X was done by Franco Di Girolamo and I was rather un-impressed. He has done some solid work in the past, but he has also done some very poor work as well and here outside of maybe 2 or 3 gore scenes they look really poor. Franco Di Girolamo seems to be very hit or miss and here he was pretty much always missing. If the gore isn’t any good is there really any reason to watch this movie? I don’t think so.

I understand the appeal of After Death and the appeal of Claudio Fragasso and while this movie and some of his others have their fun moments, but for the most part they’re just badly made and worst of all boring. It’s not really a surprise the Italian film market was dying around this time when you have movies like After Death. In closing while After Death has its fun moments, but for me they were very few and far between and I found myself mostly bored.

As I stated this isn’t a sequel to Fulci’s Zombie 2 or Zombie 3. There is also Zombie 5: Killing Birds, but that also has no connection to Fulci’s movies or this one. Zombie 5: Killing Birds was actually released before Zombie 4: After Death so that shows you the lack of connection between the films.

Hell of the Living Dead (1980) Review

Posted in Hell of the Living Dead with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- They Eat the Living

Release Date- November 17th, 1980

Running Time- 103-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Claudio Fragasso & J.M. Cunilles

Director- Vincent Dawn (Bruno Mattei)

Starring- Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Selan Karay, Jose Gras, Gabriel Renom, Josep Lluis Fonoll

Released in 1980 Hell of the Living Dead (one of its many titles) was directed by Vincent Dawn who is better known to horror fans as Bruno Mattei and the best way to describe this movie is if George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 had a bastard child it would be this movie. Hell of the Living Dead is a prime example on how to not make a movie, but over the years it’s built up a large cult following due to how bad the movie is and it falls under the title of so bad its good, but quite honestly I was never able to fully get into this movie even on multiple viewings. I have warmed up to the movie, but I still wouldn’t rate it very highly.

I very much get the appeal of Hell of the Living Dead seeing as I’m a big fan of J. Simon (Slugs, Pieces), but overall when it comes to the films of Bruno Mattei I enjoy them to a certain level, but I’m also a bit bored with them as well, but Mattei has built up a very loyal following and again I get the appeal of the movie and his films in general even if at the end of the day they don’t do much for me.

Also involved with the movie is Claudio Fragasso who has graced us with such movies as Zombie 4: After Death and what is dubbed the ultimate so bad its good movie Troll 2. It’s quite amazing that two of Italy’s worst in Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso would form a partnership and the two delivered quite a few schlock films I suppose it was a match made in cinema hell.

The screenplay was written by Claudio Fragasso & J.M. Cunilles and overall it was rather horrid. There were some attempts at social commentary, but when the writer is Claudio Fragasso it doesn’t work very well; I suppose one can label the screenplay an idiot’s version of Dawn of the Dead. The script by Fragasso & Cunilles is filled with horrible, but often funny dialogue and the characters are easily some of the dumbest to ever grace the horror genre. However the biggest problem with the screenplay is the lulls in action; despite some horribly funny dialogue after a while it gets rather boring, but some of these problems aren’t due to the script it’s more on the editing side, but after a while watching stupid people do really stupid things gets quite tiresome.

Despite how many times the characters are told to shoot the zombies in the head they continue to do anything, but that. At first it’s kinda funny because these people are such idiots, but after a while it really started to grate on my nerves. The highlight of the movie towards the end finds one character entering a house and putting down his rifle and finds a tutu and begins to dance around. It’s moments like that, which makes it hard to totally hate this movie. But in the end despite some horribly funny dialogue the script is just too pathetic.

Apparently besides Fragasso and Cunilles, Bruno Mattei and Rosella Drudi (Fragasso’s wife) also contributed to the screenplay, but both are un-credited and if true it makes things even more amazing that it took four people to write such garbage it’s like they were all working with the same brain, which isn’t a good thing. Overall the script is quite poor, but it does have some very funny moments and made funnier by the attempt at social commentary.

As director Bruno Mattei delivers a movie that is prime example on how to not make a movie. The pacing of Hell of the Living Dead is often sloppy and when there are lulls in the action the movie can be quite boring. Hell of the Living Dead is filled with stock shocks of tribes and animals from a documentary and the footage actually takes up a few minutes of the film and after a while it gets quite annoying. But I suppose in some ways this can also maybe add to the charm of the movie. But after a while these stock shots really start to slow things down.

Some of the problems with the movie are more due to the editing and at a 103-minutes the movie is quite overly long, but no amount of editing would make much out of Hell of the Living Dead. The zombies shuffle around like a bunch of idiots and aren’t intimidating in the least. The action sequences are laughable and I’m convinced that Bruno Mattei would find a way to mess up a porn flick. Everything in Hell of the Living Dead is so incompetent that it makes the movie a little bit of fun. There are movies that are just downright horribly made and while that does describe Hell of the Living Dead it’s also horribly made in a way that does provide a few fun moments.

Not all is lost however with the movie since the final act is surprisingly decent; while Mattei is unable to build even an ounce of suspense the final act is fairly good and the final few minutes in particular; the fate of the main characters was a nice twist and the final scene really plays out quite strong and even leaves things open for a sequel, which thankfully never came to be. For all the problems with Hell of the Living Dead, Mattei actually does a decent job with the final act and one might be better off fast forwarding to these scenes and leave it at that.

When watching the movie if you think the music sounds very familiar you are correct; the score by Goblin is taken from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead as well as a couple of other Goblin composed movies and that really makes the movie a bigger hack job. Mattei would also use a score by Goblin from one movie in another of his. The Other Hell used the score from Joe D’Amato’s cult classic Beyond the Darkness and if not mistaken, Hell of the Living Dead also features portions of the score from Beyond the Darkness.

Due to all of this it’s kinda difficult to fully hate this movie; I mean it’s just such a hack job from poor editing, writing, moronic characters, cheap looking zombies, mostly lame gore (except towards the end), music ripped off from other movies, and a guy dancing around in a tutu. These elements in part might make the movie a little more fun than it should be and while I totally get the cult appeal of the movie, but overall despite a few things here and there I was mostly bored during the movie.

Besides the SWAT member dancing around in a tutu another highlight is Lia (Margit Evelyn-Newton) stripping down running around with the native tribe in a scene that is rather hysterical, but brought down by the fact it seems like forever until it ends.

Overall Hell of the Living Dead is a rather poor flick that knocks off both Dawn of the Dead and Zombi 2 and while the film is very poorly made it does have its fair share of fun moments, but not enough for me to fully enjoy the movie. I get the cult appeal, but for the most part it was too idiotic even for me, but fans of cult cinema just might wanna give this one a shot.









Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1988) Review

Posted in Zombie 5: Killing Birds with tags , , , , on October 8, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


* ½ Out of 5

Release Date- July 13th, 1988

Running Time- 92-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Daniele Stroppa & Sheila Goldberg

Director- Claudio Lattanzi

Starring- Lara Wendel, Timothy W. Watts, Leslie Cumming and Robert Vaughn

Whenever I review any late 80s Italian horror I always mention how they were on a major decline and it’s quite amazing how it seemed all these filmmakers lost their edge at the same time with the exception of Dario Argento who continued to make quality films and you can even throw Michele Soavi into that as well even if I’m not the biggest fan of his work. Zombie 5: Killing Birds easily rates as one of the worst to come out of Italy and movies like this was proof Italian horror was dead; Killing Birds is the kind of movie that makes you wanna rip out your eyes and stab yourself in the ears so you don’t have to see or hear anything. To say this movie is bad would be a major understatement; truth is the movie does have some fun moments, but overall it’s just a waste of a film.

Zombie 5 has no connection to Fulci’s Zombi 2 or Zombi 3 just like Zombi 4: After Death has no connection either. It’s simply a marketing ploy and I guess with a movie this horrid you need some kind of hook to sell the movie. Its kind of confusing with the Zombie movies, but the only official parts are Fulci’s Zombi 2 and Zombi 3. Zombie 5: Killing Birds was actually released before Zombie 4: After death. Confused yet? Normally when I write a review I always try and find something positive to say as I don’t like to just piss all over someone’s work, but I really cannot think of much to say good about this film. I’m not sure the movie has any redeeming qualities.

The screenplay if you can call it that by Daniele Stroppa & Sheila Goldberg is terrible; the script makes zero sense and has some of the worst and most idiotic characters to ever grace cinema, but we’ll get more into that in just a bit. Killing Birds starts out as a slasher flick than it seems it has something to do with birds than in the middle it becomes a haunted house movie, but we aren’t done yet as now it’s a zombie flick and finally we go back to the birds. All I wanna know is what the birds had to do with anything? And what was the deal with the haunted house aspect? At times the movie also attempts some comedy and a John Hughes film this is not. It’s like several different scripts were written than merged to one.

As for the characters ok granted horror films aren’t always known for having smart characters, which sadly is accepted far too much by the audience, which allows lazy writing. But I don’t think there is a word to describe the characters in Killing Birds. Calling them idiots would be an insult to idiots. These people are just complete morons! Sometimes that can add to the charm, but other times it’s just too much and this is one of those times.

Example being; one guy gets stuck in a generator and as he struggles to break free while his friend watches in horror. Here’s an idea Einstein how about you go and perhaps try and help him instead of standing there like an idiot. After the guy dies the friend runs away to tell the others and when he gets to them he says “they got him.” Who exactly got him? He got stuck in a generator and you stood there like a complete dolt, ain’t nobody got him. It’s just little moments like this that drive me crazy with Killing Birds.

Some reports have Killing Birds directed by the legendary Joe D’Amato best known for the cult classic Beyond the Darkness. From what I read his name was left off and someone else was credited to avoid over exposure. Not sure how true that is since many Italian filmmakers used alias and Joe D’Amato whose real name is Aristide Massaccesi was the DP of the movie under the name Fred Sloniscko so if he was actually also the director why not use one of his many aliases? It’s not like now with so much technology for us info is easy to find so most people back when this film was released wouldn’t even know it was Joe D’Amato if he used one of his many aliases.

Claudio Lattanzi was credited as director and this is his only directing credit and well I can’t say I’m shocked. Killing Birds is horribly paced and more often than not the movie is quite boring and focuses on the characters, which would be great if they were interesting, but they are idiots and the faster they die the better, but sadly we spend a good chuck of the film with them. Lattanzi has no clue on pacing or suspense as the movie goes from idiotic scene to idiotic scene. Lattanzi does attempt suspense, but it’s quite laughable as its so horribly done. Everything is poorly staged and the gore we get is quite pathetic.

This was truly a low point in the career of Robert Vaughn; also his character at the end is the hero. Um didn’t he brutally kill some people in the beginning? Also his relation to the character of Steve is quite idiotic. Either Vaughn really needed the cash at the time or just needed to get away from a nagging wife or something. His performance was horrible, but that just keeps true to all the other actors in the movie as well. Half the time the actors mumble their lines and you can’t pick up what they said, but seeing as pathetic the script was I suppose it’s not a bad thing if you don’t hear it.

Zombie 5: Killing Birds was just a pathetic attempt at a movie and it really isn’t a surprise Italian horror was mostly dead by this time, but the really scary thing is this movie makes Zombie 4: After Death look good and that isn’t an easy task.