Dear Diary of the Dead

My first TIFF07 screening is George Romero’s independently-produced return to the “little” zombie movie. (Incidentally, “little” is the adjective for “movie”; these are not gonna be midget zombies.) In advance of the screening, I know only a little about Diary of the Dead. Films in the horror genre are ones that I prefer to approach as “blind” as possible. What I do know is that it employs a plot device similar to that of The Blair Witch Project (and–as it occurred to me while I was watching it–the upcoming JJ Abrams-produced monster movie which may or may not be called Cloverfield): it’s all shot first-person by people who are living through the events depicted. (And here’s a word of warning–if you are susceptible to nausea caused by herky-jerky hand-held camera-work, take a seat towards the back for this one.) The other thing I know about this film is that Romero is going back to square one, zombie-lore-wise. Unlike, say, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead, this one takes us back to Night of the Living Dead, when the existence of the walking dead was new and mysterious and not a fait accompli within the world of the film.

Your toughest assignment, if you choose to see this film and are as familiar with film zombie lore as I am, will be to forget as much as you can before the opening credits roll. If you can take your mind back to the first time you ever saw Night of the Living Dead, that would be perfect. And this goes straight out to you, Constant Reader ZombieKillah: these are Romero zombies. They are not quick like bunnies. They shamble. They lurch. They flail. You can outrun the fuckers if they don’t catch you unawares and chew a hole in your neck before you even know what’s happening and what the hell that awful stench is. (There are more than a few inside-jokey references within the film about how slow these things are, which were appreciated by the audience I was in.)

Basically, this is Night of the Living Dead circa 2007 instead of 1968.   Continue reading

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Chasing the buzz

Clearly illustrating how true it is that it ain’t whatcha know but, rather, whoya know, I was invited to take part in a survey of what we most wanna see at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. What was the criteria for being invited to participate? Something about being buff. Or mebbe it was something about being a film buff. Or someat like that. But the rules! Oy, the rules! They were cruel: I could name only three films and I could justify each choice with only one sentence. Ye gods.

But, hereabouts, my rules rule. So here’s a little further elucidation…

Stuck, dir. Stuart Gordon

I haven’t seen all of Stuart Gordon’s films but I have really liked every one I have seen (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon, Castle Freak, King of the Ants, and Edmond).

Stuck is based on a true story that I can remember being all over the news a few years ago. In Texas, an intoxicated woman struck a man with her car and he flew up over the hood and lodged in her windshield. Did she call 911? No. Did she drive to the hospital? No. Instead, she drove all the way home with him like that, pulled into her garage and closed the door and then went in the house and left the poor guy to die a slow painful death overnight—ignoring his cries for help that she could hear from inside her house. Then she dumped the body. Isn’t that sweet? A girl you’d like to take home to meet Mom, eh?

Anyhow, throughout his filmmography, you will find that Stuart Gordon has a deft hand when it comes to finding the blacker-than-black comic side of a gruesome story. His films are what you could call transgressive–just a step beyond where other filmmakers might draw the line, y’know?

Making a smartass remark about head would be too easy, don't you think?
(Like, oh, say, a sex scene between a nubile young thang and Dr. Hill’s re-animated decapitated head.)

That approach and tone is what I like best about his work. I don’t know if he takes that kind of off-kilter funny/weird/awful tack with this film, but I am sure anxious to see!   Continue reading

Shock Waves

Nazi zombies!  Or is it zombie Nazis?  It's Nazis!  Who are zombies!!  They're dead! They're all messed up!
‘The sea spits out what it can’t keep down.’

As if Nazis weren’t bad enough in and of themselves.

As if zombies weren’t bad enough in and of themselves.

Shock Waves is about what happens when a group of vacationing scuba divers runs into The Death Corps(es?)–an SS squad of zombie “super soldiers” created by those paranormal-obsessed Nazis that Indiana Jones and Hellboy keep running into.   Continue reading