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Dead Season

Dead Season

USA, 2012
AKA: The Running Dead
Director: Adam Deyoe
Writer: Adam Deyoe, Joshua Klausner, Loren Semmens
Cast: Scott Peat, Marissa Merrill, James C. Burns, Corsica Wilson, Marc L. Fusco, Todd Pritchett, Grant Beijon, Kevin O. Matta, Anna Vawser, Greg Weisman, Leishla M. Perez Figeroa, Sean McDonald, Dave Wilhoit, Barbara Kerford, Carmen Gloria, Matt Aidan, Sue Braden, Jeanette Caldera, Randall Carver, Tom Caster, Louis Chalif, Phil Connery, Amy Coughlin, Scott Deckert, Erica Delgado, Adam Deyoe, Douglas J. Eboch, Mia Eden, David Eshelman, Nancye Ferguson, Dawn Ferris, Randy Francis, Mariella Fredo, Daisy Galvis, Daniel Gavin, Jordan Graham, Woodrow Wilson Hancock III, Benny Harris, Jostel Hason, Jeb Heil, Alexis Hernandez, Dan Hicks, Jessica Houghton, Ben Idom. Stefan Ionesco, Derek Jacobsen, Danny J. Lee, Joel Michaely, Christian Mooney, Teresa R. Parker, Ava Peat, Matt Peat, Tonya Peat, Sara Raftery, Jeyson L. Robles, Natalie Smyka, Mr. Snake, Rachel Tamayo, Evelyn Vaccaro, Evelyn Osorio Vaccaro, Amanda Wigley, Collin Wigley, James Zimbardi

Prior to the zombie apocalypse Elvis was working as an EMT in Pittsburgh. Now, a year later, he has buried his family and walked from Pittsburgh to Florida, where he is trying his best to survive anyway he can. At night he talks to Tweeter on the radio. He has never met her but he tells her of his plan to get away from the zombie infested main lands. A guy he used to work with is living at a marina in Miami and is helping people get away by supplying boats and travel plans for them. One night Tweeter and a kid she met two months ago turns up at Elvis’ place. They’re actually there to try to steal food from him, but as they don’t get away with it instead they form sort of an alliance and follows him towards the coast.

When they arrive at the marina, Leach (Dan Hicks of Evil Dead II and Darkman fame) first reacts in a funny way when he see Tweeter and the kid. They trade Elvis’ food supplies for a boat and directions to this supposedly zombie free island. He warns them that the fish isn’t edible due to radiation from earlier nuclear testing on the island. The only way from Leach’s place to the boat is through a warehouse full of zombies. By the look on Leach’s face when they leave, and by his reaction when he saw Tweeter and the kid, I got he impression that he knew what was awaiting them on the island, or didn’t believe they would make it to the boat alive. Either way he didn’t care to much as it was business as usual to him. And behold – Leach turns up again later in found footage on a certain island.

The kid doesn’t make it, but Elvis and Tweeter has to abandon the boat when it runs out of fuel not far from the beaches of the island. They swim ashore and set out to explore it. It doesn’t take long before they run into both zombies and a group of people living in a gated community. Elvis is more than welcome since their previous doctor is dead, but Tweeter isn’t so sure about the group. She stumbles upon some home movies, and among them there are tapes of medical experiments on humans infected by zombie bites but not yet dead. By keeping them alive and shutting of blood flow body parts can be amputated and meat “harvested” before they turn into zombies. Why let good meat go to waste?

My first impression of Dead Season was that it was yet another generic zombie film. It felt like a rip off of The Walking Dead, and they even referred to the zombies as “walkers”, but according to the filmmakers the script for Dead Season predates TWD and filming was mostly done when TWD premiered. Since The Walking Dead is based on comic books, those could still be an inspiration. I first found the film average. Not really bad, but not really bad either. But then it somehow got to me and the story sucked me in. It’s obvious the filmmakers are zombi enthusiasts as there are a number of references to other films and zombie lore. First of all the zombie apocalypse starts in Pittsburgh, which of course, as everybody knows, is the zombie capitol of the world ever since Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and it’s sequels. We have human experiments and zombies on islands in both Romero’s Day of the Dead and in Fulci’s Zombi 2 and Zombi 3. There is also a zombie stowaway on a boat in Zombi 2. At the compound they are speaking width someone on a military base just outside London on the radio, and he tells them England is practically taken over by the dead and that they are now running. This is probably a reference to the 28 Days Later franchise.

The title for the British DVD release is The Running Dead. I’ve never been a fan of running zombies and I figure this is why it took me so long to get around to watch Dead Season. Ironically there are no running zombies in it until the last part of the film, and then we get an explanation to why these running zombies don’t behave like they used to do. I’ve read several reviews where people apparently missed this explanation and are confused to why some zombies are fast while the rest is not, but to me it was like “WOW, so that’s why!”. To me this explanation makes Dead Season build a bridge between two separate zombie lines and actually changing the rulebook. An speaking of rulebooks, the book Leach is reading when Elvis knocks on his door is The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, author of World War Z.

All those references made me reconsider and Dead Season went from average to above average. It was even better when re-watched.

My verdict: 6 out of 10.

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Horror Hospital

Horror Hospital

Noteworthy Films, UK, 1973
AKA: Computer Killers/Death Ward #13/Eastworld/Doctor Bloodbath
Director: Antony Balch
Writer: Antony Balch, Alan Watson
Cast: Michael Gough, Robin Askwith, Vanessa Shaw, Ellen Pollock, Dennis Price, Skip Martin, Kurt Christian, Barbara Wendy, Kenneth Benda, Martin Grace, Colin Skeaping, George Herbert, James Boris IV, Allan ‘The River’ Hudson, Simon Lust, Antony Balch, Ray Corbett, Richard Gordon, Alan Watson

Jason Jones was vocalist with a rock band. After being sacked he goes and see them perform and end up in a fight with their new transvestite singer. Fed up with everything he decides to have a holliday. He finds an ad for “Hairy Holidays, Fun and Sun for the under 30’s” and decides to go. The creepy travel agent comes on to him and want to take him to the Bahamas, but when he realizes it’s the “Hairy Holiday” Jason wants he gives him a special prize of 5 pounds for the whole week. He doesn’t even want to be paid in advance.

On the train Jason meet Judy. She is going to visit an aunt she has never met. Her aunt and her mother had an arguement before Judy was born and never spoke since. Aunt Harris used to run a brothel in Hamburg before the second world war. She hooked up with a strange finnish doctor and when the war broke out he took her with him to Helsinki. After the war she brought him with her back to England. Now, Judy’s mother has died and aunt Harris is her only relative. It turns out Jason and Judy is going to the same place, since Doctor Storm is the one running the “Hairy Holiday” health hotel.

There were supposed to be a car waiting by the station, but after waiting for some time they ask the stationmaster for directions and take off on foot. They are caught in the rain and take cover in an old ruin, Eventually they get picked up by two men on motorcycles working for Dr. Storm, and are delivered to a big mansion. They are let in by a dwarf and signed in by a woman who turns out to be Judy’s aunt. She is upset to see Judy. She had sent her a letter telling her specifically not to come visit, but Judy never got the letter. There is a shortage of rooms so Jason and Judy have to share one despite Judys objections. She doesn’t object when he join her in the shower later on though.

When shown to their room by the dwarf, Frederick, a man with a big scar on his forhead comes out of a room and in the room the bedsheets are drenched in blood. The dwarf says someone had a small accident and hopes they’ll be more lucky.

At dinner Jason and Judy sits down with the other guests, and tries to make conversation. All the others are dressed in white, quite pale and with big scars on their forheads. None of them answers or even looks at the newcomers. When aunt Harris sits down with them they ask her what is going on, but before they get any answers a girl named Millie, the only other person at the table without the scar, trows a tantrum and is hauled off by two motorcyclists in black leathers and white helmets. None of the others reacts to this, but Jason and Judy are shocked and goes back to their room. Dr. Storm, who is in a wheelchair, comes and see them. Judy sais she want to leave, but the house is locked down for the night and there is nowhere to go. Dr. Storm tells her to stay for the night and wait till morning. He claims she and Jason will be quite safe as long as they stay in their room an keep the door locked.

Aunt Harris and Fredrick are digging graves in the garden while Jason and Judy make love. Later on Jason sneaks out to see if he can find out what’s really going on in this weird manor. Judy gets tired of waiting and follows him. She finds a room with eight beds. It looks like the people in them are dead but they remove the covering over their heads and look at her. They all have scars. When Jason get back to the room Judy is gone. He sees some kind of disfiguered monster before he is knocked out from behind.

Next day Jason finally learns what is going on. Dr. Storm is luring young people to his place and operating on them in his lab. He has developed a technique of brain surgery which turn his victims into zombies. They feel nothing and have no will of their own but are controlled with a computer. Judy is being held in a cell with Millie. Preparations for Millies operation has begun and after her it’s Judy’s turn. Then Jasons’. Jason manages to escape but is being hunted by the motorcyclists. Will he get away from them and will he be able to save Judy before she is turned into a mindless zombie?

Horror Hospital might have been the definition of gore in 1973, but by todays standards it’s pretty innocent and tame. It’s still good for a few laughs, though. The story is over the top with a Rolls Royce used for decapitating escapees, a gym full of zombies, an army of bikers in black leather, brain surgery and nightly burials in the garden. It reminds me of The Rocky Horror Picture Show but without the music. If they did a remake today I’m sure it would be a blockbuster. Somebody call Hollywood!

My verdict: 8 out of 10.

Bounty Killer

Bounty Killer

Just Chorizo Productions/Kickstart Productions, USA, 2013
AKA:
Director: Henry Saine
Writer: Jason Dodson, Colin Ebeling, Henry Saine
Cast: Matthew Marsden, Kristanna Loken, Christian Pitre, Barak Hardley, Abraham Benrubi, Gary Busey, Beverly D’Angelo, Eve, Kevin McNally, Alexa PenaVega, Jolene Andersen, Chasty Ballesteros, Ivar Brogger, Cham, Tyra Colar, Will Collyer, Robbie Davis, Vince Dyer, Chris Graue, Alex Huynh, Ryan Hanna King, Everton Lawrence, Jeff Meacham, Jessica Meraz, Soon Hee Newbold, Mindy Robinson, Alex Scolari, Andre Drekno Simmons, Robert Tarpinian, Calvin Tenner, Melvin Tenner, Matthew Willig, Cathy Zukimoto, Lacey Joy

“I’m stealing a stagecoach from a bunch of savages with a wanted criminal moonlighting as a bounty killer, who has the hots for a murderous deranged gypsy. I’ve never stopped believing.”

– Gun Caddie Jack LeMans

The big corporations got more and more powerful until they took over the world’s governments. Their hunger for profit made them wage war on competition with their own armies. This led to what has been known as the Corporate Wars, which became the end of the civilized world as we know it. Out of the ashes rose The Council of Nine trying to bring back law and order to the world. They issue death warrants on white collar criminals and bounty killers are hunting these criminals down for the reward. The survivors of the apocalypse sees these bounty killers as avengers. Twenty years after the war bounty killers are the new heroes, the new rock stars, the new celebrities.

Two competing bounty killers, Drifter and Mary Death, hits a corporate party at a penthouse together. Before going in guns blazing Drifter tells Mary Death he only wants one of the people inside, and she can have all the rest. Next day Drifter turn up in San Dalloosa City with a body to collect the reward. There is a cheering crowd and he is approached by a reporter wanting an interview and Jack LeMans who want’s to be his new gun caddie. Drifter tells the reporter off. He never do interviews. Then Mary Death turns up in her Mustang with her own logo on it and a trailer stacked with dead bodys, the crowd looses all interest in Drifter. Mary Death is selling t-shirts, signing autographs and posing for pictures. Drifter finds out there is a death warrant issued for his old friend Harry. As he and his new gun caddie leaves to try to find Frank and find out what’s happened there is a new warrant coming through on the faxmachine. This warrant is for Drifter.

When Mary Death finds out about the death warrant issued for Drifter she goes after him and catches up at Harry’s bar in Drip Rock. Mary confronts him and he admits that before he was Drifter he was Francis Goreman, CEO of a weapons manufacturing corporation. He sais he has to go see the Council of Nine and talk to the judges. No one has ever appealed a death warrant before and Mary sais this would be suicide since the council guards will kill him on sight. Harry was already dead when Drifter arrived and he suspects luring him there was a trap. Before they have a chance to finish their conversation, and Mary to decide wether to help Drifter or to kill him, they are attacked by “yellow ties”.

Drifter and LeMans get away and head for the Council. To get there they have to cross the dangerous Badlands, but as they are getting close to the border they are captured by gypsys. Those are fierce facepainted savages rumourded to be cannibals. The gypsy queen interogates them of the whereabouts of a gypsy girl named Nuri. She ran away some years ago after killing the gypsy king, and she had talked about trying to find Drifter. Despite being tortured Drifter denies all knowledge of this Nuri girl. We, on the other hand, learns that Nuri is Mary Death. Drifter created her. He trained her, taught her everything he knew and for some time they hade a love affair but eventually things got sour between them. Drifter and LeMans escapes from the gypsys but not before a big bloody fight. Jimbo, a coyote, which is a person who smuggles white collars out of bounty killers territory, but also Drifter’s snitch, has crossed the Badlands before so they go see him to persuade him to take them.

Meanwhile, Mary Death is lost in the Badlands. When trying to find her way out she finds a gypsy scout dying from radiation. He tells her the gypsys are in the Badlands because they are coming for her. She has to find her way out of the Badlands before the radiation kills her or the gypsys find her, and she has to decide if she is to speak to the judges on Drifter’s behalf or if she is going to kill him and collect the reward.

I didn’t really know much about this film as I sat down to watch it. I had seen some bad reviews and most of these compared it to Mad Max, but claimed it was a bleak copy. I loved Mad Max (and The Road Warrior) when I saw it on rental VHS as a kid and I’ve seen my share of clones good and bad through the years. I didn’t expect much from Bounty Killer but boy was I in for a surprise. I see why so many compare it to Mad Max, but I don’t see the “copy” thing. Mad Max was obviously one inspiration, but it’s no clone. Bounty Killer is a tongue in cheek action film in a dystopian post apocalypse setting. It’s styled to death shootouts in designer outfits. Mary Death is as rock’nroll as it gets. I for one, would buy the t-shirt!

My verdict: 9 out of 10.

1984

Umbrella-Rosenblum Films Production/Virgin Benelux/Virgin Schallplatten/Virgin, UK, 1984
AKA: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Director: Michael Radford
Writer: George Orwell, Michael Radford
Cast: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, Cyril Cusack, Gregor Fisher, James Walker, Andrew Wilde, David Trevena, David Cann, Anthony Benson, Peter Frye, Roger Lloyd Pack, Rupert Baderman, Corinna Seddon, Martha Parsey, Merelina Kendall, P.J. Nicholas, Lynne Radford, Pip Donaghy, Shirley Stelfox, Janet Key, Hugh Walters, John Hughes, Robert Putt, Christine Hargreaves, Garry Cooper, Matthew Scurfield, John Golightly, Rolf Saxon, Ole Oldendorp, Eddie Stacey, Norman Bacon, John Foss, Carey Wilson, Mitzi McKenzie, Phyllis Logan, Pam Gems, Joscik Barbarossa, John Boswall, Bob Flag, Keith Gale, Annie Lennox, Lucien Morgan, Michael Munn, Peter Ross-Murray, Jason Savage, Fred Wood

Winston Smith is a newseditor for the Bureau of Information in totalitarian Oceania. His jobb is to change the news in retrospect, in whatever way the government want him to. The party is working towards abolishing orgasms. By doing so they hope to lower the number of familys. Without family there will be even less privacy and no loyaltys competing that to the party and Big Brother. Also, sex is extremely dangerous since it inevitably leads to thought crime.

One day Winston meets Julia. They begin to see each other in secret for sex, and maybe even for love. They do get caught accused of thought crime. Winston is put in a cell. He gets tortured and brainwashed and finally he is taken to the infamous and feared Room 101.

1984 was a dystopian tale of the future when George Orwell wrote it in 1948. Today we are way past 1984 and the world looks different, but the story is still important. This is where we might end up unless we defend democracy.

War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!

My verdict: 7 out of 10.