Dawn of the Dead

HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Thirty – 10/30/18

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And yet again, I came upon a year where it was too hard to decide which films to feature, and it got narrowed down to two: a home invasion thriller that upends the premise of a classic chiller from the Sixties, and a zombie action drama unlike anything audiences had seen before.

If you’re old enough to remember (as I do) the Terence Young-directed thriller from 1967, WAIT UNTIL DARK, the best screen adaptation of Frederick Knott’s smash play there will ever be, you’ll recall Audrey Hepburn as the “champion blind lady”, who manages to get the goods on three crooks trying to outsmart her, including a terrifyingly good Alan Arkin.  FEDE ALVAREZ, who totally retooled Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD in a gore-drenched remake in 2013, got the brilliant idea of taking that scenario and flipping it around. The result? The cracklingly good ‘home invasion’ flick, DON’T BREATHE…which literally describes what you’ll find yourself doing through the second and third acts of his DEAD follow-up.

Once again tapping the talents of his muse/leading lady JANE LEVY, and adding DYLAN MINNETTE and DANIEL ZOVATO into the mix, the three of them play juvenile burglars out to make one last big score. Zovato’s “Money”, the wannabe-badass of the group hits upon a plan. Rumor has it that there’s an old, blind Iraq war vet who lives alone, and has a shitload of cash stashed somewhere in his house.

Old. Blind. Isolated. Rich. Easy pickins, right?

Except, of course, if the man in question happens to be STEPHEN LANG (AVATAR, BAND OF THE HAND, LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN), who usually plays ‘not-fuck-with-able’ sighted characters on his worst days. So is the man he plays here going to be an easy target? Not on your life.

I won’t disclose how they find out, but the three thieves soon learn they’ve got their hands full. And worst of all, they’re on the Blind Man’s turf. Where they know next to nothing about his house, he has that blind person’s super-heightened senses of everything that’s around him, especially sound. And that’s where the title comes in.  BREATHE is a mindfuck all the way around. The “bad guys” turn out to be so much less dangerous than their intended ‘victim’, and even though they were up to no good, you end up rooting for them to be able to get the hell out of the predicament they made for themselves.

But much like the script that Alvarez crafted with writing/producing partner RODO SAYAGUES, you never have any idea of what’s coming next, and the twists and turns will keep you on the edge of your sofa, all the way up to the gasp-inducing finale.  I didn’t care much for Alvarez’s take on the Raimi film, to be completely honest, but DON’T BREATHE won me over immediately. I don’t doubt that if you love a good, solid thriller, the same will happen for you with this one.

As for our other feature…

Like many people, I gave up on THE WALKING DEAD at about Season Six. Or was it Seven? No matter. By the time Negan was finally introduced after what seemed like a lifetime’s worth of speculation, I was pretty much “zombie’d-out”. With multiple TV series devoted to them (including FEAR THE WALKING DEAD), I just didn’t feel like anything new could be done with the sub-genre. Or at least, no one was trying very hard to.

And then, along comes TRAIN TO BUSAN.

This pulse-pounding thriller from Korean director SANG-HO YEON, took what appears to be a simple enough premise – transferring the scenario of Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD from a shopping mall to a commuter train – and, using the tried-and-true conceit of character investment by the audience, turns his film into a grueling, 90-minute terror ride that fans have taken again and again since its initial release. (It was one of the biggest box-office smashes in Korea that year, and for good reason!)

Work-obsessed businessman Seok-woo (YOO GONG) is taking his daughter, Soo-an (SU-AN KIM) to be with her mother, from whom he is estranged. But what seems like the beginning of a downer of a family drama, takes a sharp left turn, as father and daughter board the train leaving Seoul and bound for Busan, just as a mysterious zombie virus descends upon the city, transforming those affected by it into speedy, groveling flesh-munchers, infecting any and everyone who happens to get bitten.

The terror grows with the size of the undead hordes, and the chances for survival shrink faster than the Seoul skyline in the distance. As the struggle begins, a beefy laborer, Sang-hwa (the scene-stealing DONG-SEOK MA) who starts out having an antagonistic relationship with Seok-woo, soon joins forces with him as a badly-needed ally, as he tries to keep himself and his daughter alive, while also still trying to fulfill his promise to Soo-an to get her to Busan to see her mother.

 

As I often like to say, “Terror needs no translation”, and that definitely applies here. Director Yeon, working from the script he wrote with JOO-SUK PARK, knows his way around an action sequence, and manages to blow the audience away with several suspenseful setpieces, involving situations that have never been presented before the way they are here, even in top-notch zombie thrillers like 28 DAYS LATER and WORLD WAR Z (which TRAIN shares some similarities with.)

International filmmakers are ‘bringing it’ with their takes on the zombie genre, with everything from BUSAN, to the recent Chinese productions of ZOMBIOLOGY and LOST IN APOCALYPSE. I wish George Romero were still here to see this, and to remark on it in his own unique way…

POST-MORTEM SCRYPT: 2016 bounced crazily between sci-fi/horror, the supernatural and man-made monsters with such offerings as 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, THE CONJURING 2, SPLIT, THE WAILING, RAW, THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, UNDER THE SHADOW and the excellent THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

Posted by Samuel Glass in EDITORIALS, FAMILY HORROR, FEATURED CONTENT, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, OPINION, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, TRIBUTE, ZOMBIES, 1 comment
TRIBUTE: GEORGE A. ROMERO (4 of ?)

TRIBUTE: GEORGE A. ROMERO (4 of ?)

Georgette Romero Meets George A. Romero

What can be said about George Romero that you have not already read. He is the Godfather of Zombies......he paved the way for others......he was brilliant. No, you have heard this I am sure and they are all true.
I want to share a personal moment I had with this kind man. For those who don’t know I love zombies. Have for 20+ years so it is no wonder that George Romero is my hero. Night of the Living Dead will always be my favorite zombie/ghoul movie. (FYI, George called them ghouls or flesh eaters back them) I had never cosplayed in my life but decided one year I wanted to get in on the fun. When I sat down to think of what I wanted to be, literally the first thing I thought of was my idol George Romero.
I had plans to meet him at Scarefest Convention in Lexington, KY, and thought "This is perfect!" When I looked online for ideas I found none. It was crazy. This man is a legend yet from what I could tell no one had done it. I swore right then that I would do it and by god I would do it right. I looked for the perfect frames, the perfect shirt, the perfect vest, perfect everything. I was happy with what I came up with and wore it with pride to meet him. I even wore a name tag that said "My name is Georgette Romero."
Fair use doctrine.
As I was standing in his line, awestruck to even be looking at him, his manager/agent pointed me out and couldn't tell me enough how great I looked. She had never seen it. When I got to him I was speechless and he was in awe of my cosplay. He said himself he had never seen anyone dress as him and it was amazing. He loved it. Can you believe it... My idol loved my cosplay of him? I could have died. He signed my VHS copy of Dawn of the Dead that Tom Savini had signed a few years earlier. After that, he insisted on pictures. His smile was genuine. It was his idea to even switch glasses for a few of the pictures. That's right, I wore George Romero's glasses.
Fair use doctrine.
In my glasses
Fair use doctrine.
After we switched glasses
It was amazing and I will forever miss him. He was one of a kind and can never be replaced.
Happy nightmares, Mr. Romero, may you be at peace or come back as one of your own kind.
Posted by ZombieGurl in EDITORIALS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
TRIBUTE: GEORGE A. ROMERO (3 of ?)

TRIBUTE: GEORGE A. ROMERO (3 of ?)

RIP George A. Romero

“They're coming to get you, Barbara.”
It's maybe one of the most famous, and chilling lines in horror. From one of the most groundbreaking movies in the history of horror cinema, Night of the Living Dead by director George A. Romero. We lost George this week, and it's a loss that has shaken the world of horror. If you are a newer horror fan, maybe you don't know the name, but you should. Maybe you're a fan of The Walking Dead, but not really a horror fan, well you should know Mr. Romero's name. The modern zombie only exists because of George A. Romero.
Before Romero, zombies were basically lumbering, undead servants. Their menace was limited to lurching about, choking, and throwing their victims. They were creatures of Caribbean folklore that might strike fear into the superstitious locals but not so much on the big screen. George Romero changed all that; he took the shambling undead and instilled them with one of our great taboos: cannibalism. Now Romero has famously said he had no intention of making a zombie movie, no thoughts of forever changing horror history. Whatever his intentions, that's exactly what he did. Over the years zombies have evolved and changed, brain-eating, running zombies, rage zombies, virus zombies, but none of that would have been possible without Romero. Every zombie film, from 28 Days Later to Return of the Living Dead, every TV show from The Walking Dead to iZombie, every video game from Resident Evil to Lollipop Chainsaw, every damn one can trace its existence back to Mr. Romero.
Romero was more than just Night of the Living Dead. He followed this game changer with another classic, Dawn of the Dead. Years later he continued with Day of the Dead. Then, when everyone thought he was finished, he launched his big budget Land of the Dead and then came back with the much maligned (unfairly, in my opinion) Diary of the Dead. Outside the zombie subgenre, he created horror classics such as Creepshow, Martin, and The Dark Half, cult favorites like Knight Riders and The Crazies, and the occasional misfire like Season of the Witch and Survival of the Dead.
But that's all about his movies. There have probably been a thousand articles, blogs, and news stories about Romero's movies and his importance to horror. There could easily be 1,000 more, most of them better than anything I could write about his legacy. Nah, I really want to talk about the man and my encounters with him. Now I won't lie and insult the hard core fans of the dead series. That's not fair to them. As much as I love his zombie classics, I was never the biggest fan by any means, and he wasn't my favorite director. However, if Romero did a movie, I watched it, and usually I enjoyed it. So I passed up a chance to meet him at least once. Mostly because I absolutely hated waiting in line, and at conventions George Romero always had a line. I'm glad I overcame that to meet the man once.
The first time I saw him in real life was at the Horrorfind convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland. It was around 2006 or 2007. I was sitting by the pool with friends late in the evening just after dark. We were joking, chatting and drinking adult beverages and someone noticed him and poked me. I looked and there he was. He was so much taller than I had imagined from seeing him on television and in photos. He towered above the person he was talking too, wearing, as best I can remember a dark green or teal shirt and slacks, and the vest, and the coke bottle glasses. He didn't look like a man who had changed horror forever. He looked more like a hippie with his long, graying ponytail, but you felt his presence. It was only a brief passing moment, but you knew you were in the vicinity of horror royalty. This was someone who redefined the genre.
I didn't “officially” meet him that year. It was a year or two later, at the Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival in Nashville, TN. I went with the full intention of meeting him, but once again the line was unbelievable. Rightfully so. And I talked myself out of it. Luckily, I really wanted to meet him, so I kept popping by. Finally. I found the line had gotten shorter, so I jumped in. Only to find the line was short because George had went out to lunch and a lot of people had wandered off. Oh, ye of little patience, yeah I was impatient, too, but I made myself sit there on the floor in line until finally we got the word he was back. The line quickly refilled and started slowly moving. When we finally got to the table, we realized the line moved slow because the man, the master, the godfather of horror, didn't rush his fans.
Finally we got up to the table (me and my new line buddies), and there he was. The same vest, same glasses and ponytail, but he was smiling, laughing, and looking at his fans with genuine affection. It was the same when we introduced ourselves to him. He laughed at our jokes, smiled and asked where we were from. I had picked out a photo of him and Simon Pegg. He was about to sign, and he stopped, pointed at Simon and said, “That young man is going places”. We shook hands and got a photo with him at his table. This was back before they were called selfies, and when most celebs, including George, didn't charge for photos.
I met George a couple other times, always with friends. Every time was like the first time. George A. Romero, the father of the zombie movie, always smiling, usually laughing, always looking at his fans with a genuine love and appreciation. That's how I will always remember Mr. Romero. As wonderful as his films were, he was so much more. That's what I will take with me.
Posted by Allen Alberson in EDITORIALS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
My IDOL George Romero Finally Gets a Hollywood Star!

My IDOL George Romero Finally Gets a Hollywood Star!

They're Coming for You, George...
(And it's about time!)

Star of the Dead

By Tammie Parker

George Romero - Night of the Living DeadGeorge Romero made zombies famous in Night of the Living Dead and redefined the genre while doing so. But not only did he direct the movie, he also helped write it. The man is a zombie genius! Almost all of us learned how zombies walk, move, moan, and what they look like (Hint: Not so good.)  from this movie. How real the movie looked (especially for the time period) made it truly disturbing to many viewers, and the concept of using radio broadcasting to report on what was happening was beyond creative. Lest we forget, Romero also encouraged the actors to perform with conviction, to bring realism to the drama, as evidenced with Barbara's nervousness and getting the shakes and Ben's slap to bring her back to reality, or the doomed family in the basement who, nevertheless, remain steadfast in their resolve to remain n the basement and to keep the others out, He made us feel for these people, and that made it all the more frightening.

 

Dawn George RomeroGeorge later blessed us with more to the story - Dawn of the Dead (1978),

 

 

 George RomeroDay of the Dead (1985),

 

 

 

zombies-georgeromaro-landofthedeadLand of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), Survival of the Dead (2009), and a work in progress Origins (a prequel). Thanks, George!

 

This, of course, has made so many zombie fans (myself included) obsessed with Mr. Romero!

Zombies with George Romero

 George RomeroHell, look here! Even the zombies love him!

 

 

 

zombies-georgeromaro-blackopsSome big fans include the creators of Call of Duty: Black Ops- Zombie map, Call of the Dead

 

horrormovies-silenceofthelambs-georgeromarocameoAnd director Jonathon Demme gave him a cameo in Silence of the Lambs!!Did you notice him?

 

Crazies George RomeroBy no means is Romero just for the zombie lover of course, He loves horror in general. He directed the original The Crazies, and the cult vampire movie Martin, and how about the Monkey Shines, huh? Pretty weird stuff, George! He even directed the commercial for the video game Resident Evil 2

George has also worked with Stephen King.

Stephen King and George RomeroThey created the comic book throwback movie Creepshow.

 

 

 

horrormovie-thedarkhalfAnd Romero also directed The Dark Half - boy, were the sparrows flying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

During his 50 years in the film industry, he has written, produced, and directed many films and even had a television show called Tales from the Darkside (Rumor has it that Joe Hill, Stephen King's son, will be working on a new version of Tales... yet another King tie). So why did it take so long for him to get a star?

zombies-georgeromaro-creepyglow

 

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR HEROES, HORROR NEWS, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, 0 comments

REMAKES: The Never Ending Battle

By John Roisland

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For a few years now, more and more recently a huge topic has been a large debate amongst horror fans new and old, REMAKES! Now, I’m not hear to end any arguments, nor do I have the power to do so. But I am here to try to discuss this never ending battle between good and bad!

Such classic and iconic horror films have been remade:

Maniac, Psycho, The Omen, The Evil Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Thing, Mother’s Day, The Last House On the Left, Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Fright Night, Carrie, Dawn of the Dead, I Spit On Your Grave, The Hills Have Eyes, The Fly, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, My Bloody Valentine, The Fog and the list goes on, and on and on, not to mention foreign films that are becoming bastardized by American film makers with Old Boy, The Ring, and coming soon Martyrs (which has been label by many as the best horror film ever!

All these films listed above, are pretty much all house hold horror names, which is  why everyone kept asking the same one worded question: WHY!?

Some argue that some remakes are better than the originals. Maybe some of them are…I personally don’t think so, although there are those that with newer technology, and possibly a larger budget, that are presented as a better film. But my issue is wheres the artistic value in remaking something that someone else has already put their name on.

Some directors  claim they love the original film and wanted to share their vision of how they saw it. Case in point is Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s classic Halloween; of which Zombie said he wouldn’t make the film without Carpenter’s blessing. Well he got it,  and the film made boo-coo bucks at the box office, and has seemingly made its own new Halloween franchise. Some it seems to jump on to a known franchise just to make a few dollars off of a sure thing. Others sadly  seem to be to afraid to show the world their own original visions of horror to the big screen, so they hide behind someone else’s work,  and do a remake.

My own personal favorite The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, done and redone…supposedly done again. I’ve actually lost track of what was called a remake, and what was called a continuation. But some I’ve enjoyed…others I was ashamed and almost embarrassed to say it was part of the franchise. But that’s only my opinion.

I can’t say I welcome a remake  with open arms, as I would much rather watch something original  but some I have enjoyed and have appreciated their views and their concepts.  A few I have thought were actually good enough to have stood as its own film, if not having been a remake. Which is a shame, because imagine what it could have been if it was an original. Others fall far from even crossing the finish line.

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A few remakes I have enjoyed and  I have almost been ridiculed for some, such as A Nightmare On Elm Street. When the remake came out in 2010, I enjoyed a more serious approach to the film, and loved Jackie Earle Haley’s portrayal as Freddy Krueger, not saying anything bad against Robert Englund, Just thought Haley’s approach to the role was scarier and less comedic. Something I enjoyed…but again, that’s just my opinion, and I suffered greatly for it.

While with others, some have agreed with me. 2013 Evil Dead remake, while the original is a true cult classic, many have felt that the remake was an incredible horror film, one that could have been its own, and was also a huge success at the box office.

This is a discussion that will carry on for years. It’s like figuring out who has the better pizza: New York or Chicago. It will never end, and those who are putting their artistic vision in a remake… don’t. We want your original thoughts, your dreams, your NIGHTMARES!

A remake, to me, is just about the money. No matter how many, and how big the names are that you get to star in them, it’s still a remake, its still someone else’s original work. It can be good or it can be bad, but  the horror community is a very close, very tight knit family and are very loyal…make a bad movie, they will respect you more, because its yours!

…But this is just one guy’s opinion.

Keep it Evil…

Posted by John Roisland in EDITORIALS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: The Making of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead (2014)

BOOK REVIEW: The Making of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead (2014)

By Nick Durham

The Making of George A. Romero's Day of the Dead
We all know who George Romero is, and we all know about his Dead movies. While Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead are the films that everyone rightfully recognizes as the benchmarks of the genre, Day of the Dead has often been relegated as that red-headed stepchild of his initial Dead trilogy (that's right, I said trilogy...I don't count Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, or Survival of the Dead much). Despite its initial lack of success with critics and audiences during its original 1985 release, the film has underwent a bit of reclassification in recent years, and is now recognized as practically being a classic of the zombie genre.

With all that in mind, here comes this super enjoyable book from Romero super-fan Lee Karr, The Making of George A. Romero's Day of the Dead. This book begins with a foreword from effects icon Greg Nicotero (who got his start in the business with this film working under Tom Savini) and continues with plenty of behind the scenes stories, anecdotes, rarely-seen photos, and material from the film's cast and crew. We learn of the trials and tribulations that Romero went through making this film, having been forced to slash his original script when discovering just how low-budgeted the film would end up being. Not to mention the fact that filming in an actual mine and the rotting guts used for Savini's landmark effects work making Joe Pilato (Captain Rhodes) require some quick hits of oxygen during his infamous death scene, just goes to illustrate how making these kind of films is no picnic (no pun intended). Hell, the book is a good reflection on the trials and tribulations of filmmaking in general, regardless of the genre.

If there's any drawbacks to The Making of George A. Romero's Day of the Dead, it's that I wish the book was hardcover. This is mostly a personal thing with me I guess, because I just like the way hardcover books sit on my shelf more than paperback ones do. Then again, after reading this thing cover to cover and paging through it again afterwards, it becomes really apparent that the book's binding kind of sucks. That doesn't speak to the quality of what's in these pages, but when the spine starts cracking that fast, that's not really a good thing is it?

Anyway, I've always tended to enjoy Day of the Dead a little more than I probably should, so seeing all these candid photos and reading about all this is a true treat for me personally. If you enjoy Day of the Dead and/or any of Romero's films at all, you need to check this book out as soon as you can. If you can get past the cruddy book binding, you'll enjoy what all you get here. That being said, check this out as soon as you can.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

By Nick Durham

DOTD

There isn't much I can say about the original Dawn of the Dead that hasn't been said plenty of times through the decades after it was released, but fuck it, I'm going to anyway. This was the first zombie movie I had seen in my youth that I had legitimately loved from the first time I'd seen it. All these years later, it's still my go-to zombie movie not just for Halloween, but for the whole month of October.

Now I know what you're thinking right now reading that opening paragraph...what about Night of the Living Dead? Well kids, I can't deny that the original Night of the Living Dead isn't essential Halloween viewing. I mean how can it not be? It's the movie that started it all. We wouldn't have anything modern zombie-related without it. So yeah, that is a classic film and absolutely iconic as well, there's no denying that one bit, but it's Dawn of the Dead that where George Romero really hit his mark with his zombie films. No Dead film that followed can touch this, and nothing that Romero could churn out now will ever come close either.

Talking about the film's story is pretty much a moot point, we all know it. Four people barricade themselves inside a shopping mall amidst the zombie epidemic. Things are good for a while and there's a lot of social commentary and knocks against consumerism. Then a Tom Savini-led biker gang starts some shit and everything proceeds to go to hell. It sounds simple on paper, but holy shit is it so effective, even to this day.

Believe it or not, what always made Dawn of the Dead so special to me is the film's acting and characters. You actually legitimately give a shit about our four heroes (yes even asshole Flyboy) and you, surprisingly, don't want to see them die. Romero's films have always had acting that was all over the map in terms of solid performances and over the top screen chewing (no pun intended), but here all four actors (Ken Foree, Gaylen Ross, David Emge, and Scott Reiniger) are wonderful. Savini's makeup effects and zombie makeup haven't aged all that well (Day of the Dead would be his crowning achievement in makeup and gore effects), but they still pack a punch when all the gut-munching commences towards the film's climax. And oh yeah, how could I forget that iconic music score by Goblin?

So yeah, Dawn of the Dead has a special place in my heart, and not just because it's my favorite zombie movie to watch this time of year either. It's my favorite horror film of all time, and one of my all time favorite films of any genre ever. I can watch this any day of the week, any week of the month, any month of the year. I never get tired of seeing it, and I never fucking will either.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

MOVIE REVIEW: Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

Cannibal Holocaust

By Dixielord

Cannibal Apocalypse

I have mentioned before that I am a big fan of horror movies of the 70s and 80s. I'm especially fond of those low budget schlockers from the period, and even more so those films branded as a Video Nasty. I have been a fan of the zombie films of the period for a long time and have recently started searching out the Italian cannibal movies from around the same time. This search lead me to Cannibal Apocalypse.

At first I thought this was going to be just another cannibal epic set deep in the jungles of New Guinea, or the Amazon, a la Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox. However doing some research Cannibal Apocalypse turned out to be something entirely different.

Cannibal Apocalypse stars horror legend John Saxon as Gordon Hopper, a Viet Nam vet still haunted by a traumatic event during the war. In a dream we see him flash back to Viet Nam, where he is bitten by one of two captured service men, one of whom he knew from back home. He wakes up to get a call from one of the soldiers, Charlie Bukowski (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) who has just been released from a mental hospital.

Bukowski wants to meet up with his war buddy for coffee. However, Hopper, disturbed by the dream, and being hit on by his (possibly underage) neighbor Mary, refuses. Bukowski feeling abandoned and betrayed again, set off on his own. After attacking a woman in a movie theater, he goes on a rampage, killing several people and biting a police officer before being subdued and carted back to the mental hospital. Meanwhile, Hopper has been experiencing a desire for raw meat. He breaks out Bukowski and two other infected, Thompson (who bit Hopper) and an infected nurse. The four fugitives then lead police in a chase across Atlanta and into the cities sewers, spreading the cannibal contagion as they go.

Cannibal Apocalypse is a strange film on many fronts. While ostensibly it belongs to the European Cannibal sub genre, it many ways it's closer to the zombie movies of the same time period. It treats cannibalism similar to the zombie virus, as it can be transferred through a bite. However, it's set mostly in the city of Atlanta where most European zombie and cannibal films of the period were set deep in the jungle.

While Cannibal Apocalypse is far from bloodless, it is relatively tame in the gore department, especially for a video nasty. Honestly, watching it I never really understood why this film would be banned, other than the fact it dealt with cannibalism. Director Antonio Margheriti isn't so much known for gore but more for gothic horror, and it's believed producers pushed him to add gore just for commercial reasons. The gore that the film has is good, the bites are deep and bloody, and there is a shot gun killing that goes on forever with bloody consequence.

The film borrows heavily in some scenes from Dawn of the Dead, which is only fitting since Dawn was the founder of the Italian gore craze of the era. There is a shoot out with a gang in a flea market. In another nod to Dawn, a large part of the second half is a group of four people on the run, a group of one black man, two white men and a white woman, the same makeup as the main group in Dawn. Even the wardrobes of Saxon and Actress May Heatherly seem eerily similar to Gaylen Ross and David Emge of Dawn. There were times that looking at May, I thought, “Damn, she really looks a lot like Gaylen.”

You could even posit that Cannibal Apocalypse is a reverse copy of Dawn. In Dawn of the Dead we follow a group of uninfected as they flee, seeking shelter from the infected undead. In Apocalypse, it's reversed with a group of infected (soldiers versus police) fleeing from those not rabid for human flesh.

Even though technically this is a European Cannibal film borrowing heavily from the zombie genre, it's more than a horror film. Beyond all this Cannibal Apocalypse is a movie about the Vietnam War and its effects on the men who fought it.

John Saxon's Hopper is a vet who outwardly seems normal and healthy, but inside he's haunted by his time in the jungle. He dreams about it at night and in the day time struggles with the blood lust (represented by cannibalism), that he needed to survive the war. Fellow vets Bukowski and Thompson aren't as lucky. After being held prisoner by the Vietcong, their minds have broken, their blood lust is uncontrollable. Coming home, they are locked away and forgotten, even by their comrade Hopper.

After Bukowski is “cured” all it takes is a war movie and an act of sexuality to fully reawaken his rage and hunger. Being in the presence of his fellow vets causes Hopper's fragile, but well maintained control to break

You could make the case that Cannibal Apocalypse is a condemnation not only of the Vietnamese War but of war in general. War, where we take young men, teach them how to kill, but when the war's over we don’t teach them how to not kill anymore. We drop them into hell and force them to adapt, then expect them to adapt easily back into normal life. Those who can't end up locked away, or more so recently, living on the streets.

While Cannibal Apocalypse might not be great, high cinema, it is certainly a better film than many of the video nasties. That's not meant as a knock to those films, many of which I truly love, but a lot of them were made for purely shock value and to make a quick buck. There's a story to Cannibal Apocalypse, and it's a damn good story worth watching and worth talking about - especially today with our country involved in wars and rumors of war, with our streets, and hospitals overcrowded with wounded vets. Today, when soldiers are dying faster by their own hands than the hands of their enemies, and there's no answer for PTSD in sight.

Cannibal Apocalypse will never have the impact of films like Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, or Born on the Fourth of July, but for a gory horror film, it's pretty damn deep.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments