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Fangoria has reported that the sequel to the Zombie-tastic Spanish horror flick [Rec] is due to be screened at New York’s Spanish Cinema Now festival at the end of December.

This is great news for Zombie fans because it surely means that there won’t be too long before it gets a full international release.

The sequel takes place immediately after the events of the first movie, as a team of commandos are let loose on the apartment building to find out exactly what happened to the residents inside.

The action this time will primarily switch between members of the assault team via the helmet cams worn by each soldier, and its looking to be every bit as good as the original.

Check the trailer out here:

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This is very cool news for zombie fans. Filming has now wrapped for the french horror film ‘La Horde’. Written by Yannick Dahan, La Horde is about four corrupt cops who plan to avenge the death of one of their own by killing the gangsters responsible. Things don’t go to plan though, and just before the gangsters execute the cops, their building is attacked by a massive horde of zombies.

What’s even more interesting is the fact that La Horde is preceded by the short film ‘Rivoallan’, which tells the tale of how the corrupt cops ended up being one man down. Rivoallan was released in 2007 and is a totally straight movie, not a zombie in sight.

I think that’s such a fresh idea, although most of the impact will be lost on anyone who didn’t see Rivoallan when it was released. The idea of making a straight film to introduce characters and then drop them slap bang in the middle of a horror film is exceptional.

Here’s the trailer for Rivoallan:

And here’s La Horde:

La Horde should be released in France before the end of the year but expect a lengthy wait before it get’s an international DVD/ Blu-Ray release.

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The Crazies trailer is now available on-line and the remake should be ready for a February 2010 release:

 

 

The original was a low-budget horror film Directed by the legend that is George Romero and was released in the years between Night of the living dead and Dawn of the dead. Although it wasn’t a complete success, over the years it’s gained a cult following and even though the acting wasn’t the best, the story of a small town under siege from the military and infected towns-folk was decent enough to warrant a remake.

Will it be any good though? Well, it stars Timothy Olyphant and it’s got zombie/ infected in it. Of course it’ll be good…

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New moon has arrived and has already raked in an astronomical $260 million Worldwide in its opening weekend, but is it any good?

This review is spoiler heavy so please don’t read it if you haven’t seen the film or read the book….

I was going to do a full review of new moon but I’m going to keep things short and sweet. The bottom line is this- new moon is good, but it isn’t that good. The ideas and plot devices of the book didn’t transcend onto the big screen very well.

So what’s bad about new moon?

Bella:

Ahh, my biggest gripe with new moon. Bella is given far too much screen time this outing, and by the end of the film she’s really annoying. I could get past all the whinging in the books but a two-hour onslaught of moaning monologues nearly crippled me. I think the chemistry between her and Jacob could have been a lot better too. What we’re given in the books is a very character driven, gradual realisation by Bella that she may have more than just feeling of friendship for Jacob, yet on the big screen it comes across as ‘Jacob is now ripped, maybe he’s worth a second look’. I found it really detracted from what the books were trying to achieve. Obviously, Taylor Lautner has been absolutely caning the weights since Twilight but I didn’t need to sit through a whole film of him flexing his newly acquired muscle.

The Pack:

The rest of the werewolves could have been cast a lot better. If you bear in mind that Jacob is the youngest and most junior of the gang, you’d expect the rest to be a lot bigger than him when in human form (as per the book) but it seems as if the other werewolves were purposely cast as smaller than him to emphasise the change in his physique. Did I mention already that they absolutely kick the ass out of Jacob + no shirt = ripped. The movie also neglects or skims over key parts of the book where the pack is concerned, for example the fear the Jacob has towards Sam (especially once Embry joins the pack) and it also really skimmed through explaining about Sam and Emily’s relationship – something that I thought was an important part in the book.

The Volturi

When I read the books, I imagined the Volturi to be a lot more frightening looking than they actually were. I was thinking more Blade 2 Vamps, as opposed to the Hammer House of Horror bloodsuckers in new moon. It could have been so much better if Aro and Jane were played by different actors. It’s not that I’ve got anything against Michael Sheen or Dakota Fanning, I just dont think they managed to pull off the menace of their characters properly.

So what’s good? Well, it’s not actually all bad. The CGI of the Werewolves is exceptional. All of the scenes with the Wolves in are fantastic, and i’m definitely looking forward to seeing the upcoming battles in Eclipse (which has already wrapped shooting by the way, so expect a release date in less than a years time). Robert Pattinson is good, and although his moody looks nearly got the better of me during Twilight, he performs really well in new moon, it’s just a shame that he spends most of the film absent from the screen. The Cullens are great in new moon, although they are literally on-screen together for a few minutes at the beginning and end, and again it’s got me excited about the prospect of them teaming up with the wolves in Eclipse.

All in all, new moon is a decent enough film to watch but it seemed to me that it tried too hard. It manages to try and cram too much from the books into a two hour film, without a lot happening. What it does serve to do though is set the stage for Eclipse. We’ve got most of the smushy business out of the way now, so Eclipse has got the potential to be a lot better than it’s predecessor

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ThorThe upcoming big screen adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Thor has finally got a lead role. After months of speculation about who would be cast as the Norse Thunder God, 26 year old Australian actor Chris Hemsworth has been picked for the 2011 Movie.

You may know Hemsworth from his years spent playing Kim in Aussie soap Home & Away or more recently, his role as Captain Kirks’ father in JJ Abrams’ fantastic Star Trek re-boot last year. This comes after a long line of actors such as Brad Pit and Daniel Craig were linked with the film.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind Hemsworth for the five minutes he was on the screen at the beginning of Star Trek but Thor?!? For those of you who don’t know, in the Marvel Universe Thor is one of the most powerful superheroes around, second only to Hulk in terms of strength. Personally, i’d rather see the Rock play Thor than a young whippet. Unless Hemsworth beefs up considerably (which I can’t see him doing in the next couple of months prior to shooting commencing in Jan ’10), the main character could turn out to be a joke.

Comics rarely make the transition to the big screen very well and the only comic book adaptations that I can think of that have been done well are  Jon Farveu’s superb Iron Man film and the 2008 Incredible Hulk movie. I can’t even rate the Spiderman films, pure garbage and total kids film cop-outs. The key to a good film is casting, and that applies even more so to comic book films. Edward Norton did a great job capturing the angst of Bruce Banner and Bob Downey JR is totally believable as Tony Stark but Toby Maguire as Spiderman? Kirsten Dish-Face Dunst? No thanks. The fantastic four films aren’t even worth a mention, the first film had me cheering on for Doctor Doom and they even managed to fuck Galactus up with the second effort.

I just don’t think this will be any good. It’s going to be directed by floppy-haired Mum’s favourite Kenneth Branagh(!) who has no experience whatsoever in directing an action flick and it also follows the weaker of the two Thor backstories. Rather than the Ultimate Thor story in which Thor is either a God or a madman, the film will go with the Earth 616 story that Thor is a disabled doctor who finds the strength within himself to become a God. Yawn.

I genuinely do hope that it’s a good movie, but only time will tell. Now all we need to do is sort out who will play Captain America….

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zombielandLast week saw the UK release of the new Woody Harrelson movie, Zombieland. I’d seen the trailer a few months ago on YouTube and was quite excited by the prospect of a new zombie film. I love zombie movies but my problem with the Genre is that it’s really difficult to do right (REC) and really easy to  mess up (Day of the Dead remake). With Zombieland marketing itself as part Horror/ part Comedy I was sceptical to say the least. I really enjoyed the trailer but was worried that it had shown the best parts of the film. I’m glad to report that my doubts were blown out of the water by a great movie.

Horror & Comedy rarely go together too well and as much as I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead, it didn’t contain too much horror. Again, another good film made by obvious fans of zombie movies but I thought that by the back end it was struggling for direction. Fortunately, Zombieland doesn’t suffer from this. whilst being genuinely funny throughout it managed to raise my pulse in a few places and the fairground finale was a fitting end to a quality movie. With that in mind I’m going to revisit some of the best zombie flicks of the past few years…

In a time where Romero, the father of the modern zombie seems to be losing it (Diary of the Dead was awful and by all accounts Survival of the Dead is ready to get panned upon release) it’s good that a zombie movie can be made well. Technically, the zombies in the film aren’t actually undead but infected (a ‘la 28 Days Later) and so aren’t the stumbling slow zombies of Romero’s flicks but the Olympic-sprinter style creatures of the Dawn of the Dead remake.

28 days

I really like the faster zombies and full credit has to go to Danny Boyle for their conception. Although some european horror films of the late seventies and eighties had running and even talking (WTF!) zombies, it was Boyle who gave us the all running- all biting zombies of 28 Days Later. In an interview shortly after 28 Days’ release he explained that after watching Romero’s films he couldn’t understand why characters got caught of by a zombie slowly shuffling across the floor. Quite right he is too, Romero’s zombies catch people because they have strength in numbers but surely if you were in a wide open space you could easily evade a couple of dozen of them?

With the birth of the 28 Days zombie you had a whole new type of threat; not only did the infected want to bite you; they would smash through windows and sprint down streets to get to you. In making the infected run it quickened the pace of the whole film and as a viewer you were constantly on edge for the characters because of the threat that any second an infected could burst on screen to take someone down. Danny Boyle has been accused over the years of plagiarism because of 28 Days but to be fair to him, he’s always been upfront about his inspiration for the film. He cites Day of the Triffids first and foremost and this makes sense with the whole Jim waking up in hospital weeks after a catastrophe only to find out that the world has been fucked in the eyes.

For me, the reason the film was so scary was because of its setting. Being shot in London brought the horror to life in the UK. It’s easy to watch films made in other countries and not connect with the settings. As much as I loved Romero’s Dawn & Day, the terror didn’t resonate with me as much as seeing Boyles’ undead steaming down a rural street. I think another influence for the film must have been Dario Argento’s Demons.

DemonsDemons is an Italian Horror film directed by Lamberto Bava and produced by Dario Argento. I found this film by accident around ten years before 28 Days had been released and there are striking similarities between the two movies. I’d just like to say now that if you enjoyed 28 Days then please try to get hold of a copy of Demons, it’s well worth an hour and a half of anyone’s time. Being a film from the mid-eighties it can be a bit cheesy in places but delivers a few scares even now, over 20 years after it was made. The story follows a group of strangers who have been invited to a special screening of a horror film in a theatre in Berlin, Germany. Whilst the film is playing a woman scratches her face on a prop mask and is soon transformed into a grotesque blood crazed Demon. Every time the Demon scratches someone they become infected and quickly turn into a Demon. The film follows the fight for survival inside the theatre.

It’s a really good movie and if you do watch it, take note of the quick ‘turn time’. I’m sure thats where Boyle got the idea from. In Demons, once a person is scratched they have next to no time before they ‘turn’ which is also very much the case with 28 Days. For any horror buffs reading this who have also seen Demons 2, the chase up the London towerblock staircase in 28 Days has obviously been borrowed from the staircase chase in this film by Mr Boyle. 

 

dawnofthedeadTwo years after 28 Days we were graced by Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake. Initially I was screaming sacrilege! when i realised that someone had dared to touch one of my all time favourite zombie movies. Fortunately, Snyder’s vision for the remake far exceeded any expectations I had and the end result is one hell of a rollercoaster of a movie. I’m of the mind that there is no such thing as a bad zombie film (Poor – yes, but not bad) and so I sat down in my local cinema (with only one other person in the whole of the screen) for the first performance on the release date of Dawn. 100 minutes later I sat with my Jaw open amazed by the movie i’d just seen.

Every good film should have a good beginning and even now I think that the Dawn remake is one of the best openings for any movie I’ve seen and I could love this film purely on the merit of the first 10 minutes, never mind that the next 90 are equally as good. The tension of the bedroom/ bathroom scene was phenomenal and I loved the shots of the devastated Milwaukee once Ana escaped her home. The refreshing thing for me was actually getting to see the destruction caused post ‘outbreak’. It’s something that is very rarely seen in a zombie movie largely due to budget constraints I suppose but it’s what zombie fans want to see the most. Too many films shy away from that aspect of the zombie genre and it was done fantastically by Snyder. And one final reason to love this film (as if you needed one) is because Ving Rhames’ character is BADASS. ‘Nuff said.

LandNext up was Land of the Dead. It’s said that no-one does Zombies like George Romero and judging by Land, they’re absolutely right. After a 20 year hiatus the big man returned to give us a pretty damn good zombie film. For those who don’t know, Day of the dead was originally supposed to have a radically different story from the one of the 1985 movie. Due to massive budget constraints Romero was forced to alter the setting to an underground missile silo and he was also restricted on the amount of undead shown in the movie. His original vision of a world overrun by zombies didn’t quite pan out the way he had intended.

It was with great relief that the $15 million budget got put to good use, Romero gave us a great action flick with a few scares and jumps along the way that although not on a par with 28 Days or Dawn was nevertheless a cracking film.

The reason I enjoyed Land so much was due to the casting. In Keeping his tradition of using an African- American in a major role, Romero introduces us early on in the film to ‘Big Daddy’ who, unlike previous …of the dead films is not the hero but rather a would-be leader of the zombies. Big Daddy is a great character played superbly by Eugene Clark and at times during the film you actually feel for him and his zombie buddies. I was surprised by Asia Argento, I’d only ever seen her in xXx alongside the big man, Vin Diesel and in Land I really enjoyed her character even though I couldn’t help thinking that she should be way hotter than she actually is. Both John Leguizamo & Robert Joy’s characters were great but its Simon Bakers character that made the film for me. Rather than your usual protagonist who shoots first and asks questions later, he brings an assured quietness to the role and I really liked that aspect of the film.

I’m not sure about Romero’s vision of zombies ‘evolving’ – we had Bub in Day Shooting a pistol and in Land Big Daddy manages to fire of a clip from a semi-auto rifle, it doesn’t sit too well with me. I prefer my zombies to be savages that can’t think. That’s what makes zombies scary for me. The thing is, it’s Romero and he invented the zombie movie so in my eyes, he can do whatever he wants. Top marks goes to Dead Reckoning shooting fireworks up at the sky to keep the zombies occupied – genius!

rec

Which brings me nicely onto the most recent zombie film that I really enjoyed, [Rec]. For those who don’t know, Rec is a spanish horror film released in 2007 that is another ‘infected’ movie with a good splashing of the occult, it’s filmed from the point of view of a female reporter and cameraman for a tv station who are following a team of firefighters during a night shift. Over the course of the evening they are called out to a block of apartments to investigate a disturbance and it is in this apartment block that the story is told.

The infected in Rec are fast savages and combining that with the handheld camerawork really ups the pressure stakes This makes for a very jumpy film with a final 10 minutes that will creep the pants off you. Rec was remade as a carbon copy in the states last year under the name Quarantine but if you get a chance, give the original a go – you won’t be disappointed!

So they’ve been my favourites of the past few years, in the next twelve months we will have Romero’s Survival of the Dead, [Rec 2], Plan 9 from outer space and who knows, the rumour mill states that Danny Boyle is considering a return to what he started with 28 Months later. Maybe not the best year for zombie films but it goes to show that the genre isn’t as dead and buried as industry critics would like to think.

theoriginaljj

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