Braindead (Dead Alive) (1992)

Im ashamed that I left watching “Braindead” till as late in my life as I have. It’s not really considered a mainstream horror in the same way that the “Nightmare on elm streets”, “Friday the 13ths” and “Halloweens” of the world are…in a sea of slashers where the closest thing to compare it to would be “The Evil Dead 2” Braindead stands out by a country mile as a truely shocking and twisted slice of Dark horror comedy.

It had always been on the outskirts of my film viewing horizons. I’d seen clips from it over the years but for one reason or another i’d just never got round to watching it…I was still trying to get the “Classics” under my belt…missing by a country mile the classic I could have been watching all along with this beauty!

I decided when I finally did down this movie that I had a choice…I could either watch it in pristine bluray quality (Bootleg but definitely enjoyable) or I could watch it for the first time in mangled VHS-vision…I chose the latter and I really dont regret my choices. The general nastiness of this film is enhanced tremendously by the nasty, grainey and semi chewed up fuzz that VHS provides…I actually own the Rental copy of this movie…It came from a video shop in Rhyl (It still has all the stickers from the shop on it and everything!) and watching it back through the murk you really get a feeling for the history that this tapes been through in order to arrive in my collection. I really do treasure it…Until peter jacksons 4K remasters of these movies come out it’s the closest I’ve got to watching this film in it’s intended condition…Though equally if they were to do what they did with the “Nekromantik” Bluray and include a polished up Super clean cut…alongside a trashed “Grindhouse” cut I’d be terrifically grateful…

I’d love to see Jackson return to these kinds of films…controversial, shocking, and brilliantly wicked fun…I know he probably never will but I can dream!

 

(Also this is one of those films that has never quite been able to get it’s promotional marketing quite right…this is the best representation of the film I could find (The rental cover) and it says absolutely bugger all about the film itself…It just looks really cool…)

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

And so with this, My first set of Halloween specials came to a close. I really enjoyed making these episodes (So much so that I fully intend to do another season of themed episodes this October!) but I was always a bit concerned about what to do with this 5th slot. I was stuck as to whether I should Review this, “Zombie flesh eaters 2 (Zombi 3)”, “Land of the dead”, “Return of the living dead”, the 2004 remake of “Dawn of the dead” or that weird version of “Night of the living dead” that came out in the early/mid 90’s that was literally just the 60’s version of the film with additional 90’s shot on video scenes added into the mix.

In the end I settled on “Shaun” for a few reasons. I thought that it ended the series on a high note, I thought “Shaun” was a good reflection of the zombie movie genre in the modern day and it feels a bit like a continuation of the natural progression of these kinds of films within this series. We started with 2 different versions of “Night of the Living dead” and ended with a 21st century affectionate tribute to those zombie movies.

I also like to think that this is a good “Bookmark” point to end on. While it may not be for a couple of years I fully intend to revisit The Zombie Genre again at some point. And ending it here gives me a nice place to pick up from whenever I decide to reopen this series.

This period of time would also see me launch the first ever “TYTD Horrorthon” a 6 hour live stream of public domain horror films that amassed a grand total of 3 viewers for a few seconds at one point…and then 1 viewer pretty much for the remaining 4 hours and 55 minutes. Though doing this livestream was one of the first times I ever got positive feedback from someone for what I produced. A mother got in touch with me the day after the stream to thank me for giving her children something to watch before they went out trick or treating. and it really made my week. It only reinforced my personal belief that as long as one person comes away from it happy it makes it all worth it. I’ll be doing the stream again this year (Though as of yet I still havent decided what films will make the cut) and if your around and free at that time I’d love to have you on board! but I digress…

In and of itself “Shaun of the dead” is my favourite of the cornetto trilogy and further still is one of my favourite comedy movies of all time. The balance between the comedy and horror here is really quite fantastic and as I mention in my video its a veritable Who’s who of mid 2000’s UK comedians. If you’ve never seen it, even if you dont like horror movies, I highly recommend checking this one out.

 

(You’ve got red on you…)

Zombie Flesh Eaters – (Zombi 2) (1979)

Whenever I think about “Zombie Flesh eaters” My mind kind of unfurls a bit. This is because on face value and to any unsuspecting stumble-uponers; “Zombie Flesh Eaters” is just a run of the mill (If not somewhat extreme) zombie movie from the 70’s.

But as soon as I remember that this film is legally (In Italy at least) connected to Romeros original “Of the Dead” movies it feels like the needles jumped on the record that is my brain. Further still when I remember that “Zombie Flesh eaters” is in fact not only legally connected to the “Of the dead” films but it actually sets itself up as the Prequel to “Dawn of the Dead” my mind goes into a bit of a funny shake for a few minutes.

The Balls of the studio that commissioned this movie into existence. The sheer balls of the people who sat down and thought “Hey we have a half finished horror film in pre-production…how can we make this more “Dawn of the dead-eier” It astounds me it really does…

What astounds me even more is that in some regards this film actually surpasses Dawn from a technical standpoint. It may not have Goblin or Romero behind the camera. It may be lacking Tom Savini’s personal touch. But Fulci and his team really put there heart and soul into this movie and it looks great for it. I’d also argue that for a majority of this movie. that the special effects are better than some of the ones seen in Dawn. Purely (As I mention in my video review below) because the effects of the zombies look so much more gnarled and realistic here compared to “Dawns” Pasty Blue/Grey zombies…I can honestly say that in hindsight while I may not be this films biggest fan. I have to give it credit that it surpassed my expectations in terms of what I was expecting.

 

(Also; that Shark VS Zombie underwater sequence has to be one of the best sequences Fulci ever directed. Astounding work!)

Day of the Dead (1985)

For me, this is the turning point of my reviews. at least in my mind it is. Up until this review I’d found that I just wasnt quite hitting the right vibe I was looking for with these videos. I mean; Im very proud of what i’ve done up to this point. But from here on in I feel like I really finally got to grips with my video making process. I’d got the formula properly down. And while there would be 1 or 2 minor hiccups along the way; I feel that with this video I finally hit a good running stride for a while.

I still find it absolutely bizarre that around the time this video went live I only had about 12 subscribers (If memory served I would hit 13 just before Halloween itself) And thinking that this was only about 6 months ago it really astounds me to see how much I’ve grown since this video went up.

Arguably this isnt one of my most popular videos…it’s not one that gets a lot of attention. But I have a real soft spot for this one. I really enjoyed working on it and I was happy with how it turned out.

I find that the film itself is often terribly underrated by fans and critics alike. Though in recent years it has seen a significant reappraisal. I would argue that to me both this film and Dawn of the dead Jostle for the “Best zombie movie ever ever!”…It all depends on my mood. if Im wanting to watch something comic book-esq and maybe a little silly I’ll go with “Dawn” if however Im in the mood for something altogether more nihilistic then “Day” is definately my go to film. Everything about this movie is a totally bleak affair. it features some of Savini’s finest work and Cine and direction that arguably surpasses “Dawn” for me in almost every way.

Really this is an essential watch in terms of horror films. I can guarentee you probably wont see anything quite like this.

(The soundtrack is absolutely astounding. One of the all time greats!)

Dawn of the Dead – Zombi (1978)

So im going to try and keep this one a bit briefer than my usual posts that accompany these videos. Partly because I don’t have a tremendous amount to say, and partly because I’m using this post as a test of the WordPress mobile app and typing a multi paragraph analysis of my retrospective thoughts on producing these reviews from a tiny mobile phone screen is at best frustrating and at worst may result in me needing a new phone after smashing this one.

Dawn of the Dead is a near perfect masterpiece of the zombie genre. In my review I mention that it’s the Rosetta stone of zombie movies and I still stand by that. It’s not only the best place to start someone off on the genre who may never have seen a zombie movie before (because I’m told those people exist) but it’s arguably the best zombie movie full stop.

With near perfect direction, cine, colour and lighting, scripting, acting, soundtrack and editing; you’ll find it damn difficult to find another film that achieves so much in such little time.

My only memories of recording this episode was that I very fondly remember watching it on my old Arrow video DVD before immediately growing frustrated at the fact that the UK bluray was out of print and commanding ludicrous prices on Amazon and eBay. A good bluray of Dawn is currently still one of my “most wanted” releases.

Other than that, all I can really say about this is that I’m tremendously sorry for the sound mix of this one…it turns out that my speakers wernt properly balanced when I did the sound mix for this one and as a result the music occasionally drowns me out…I corrected this after my “Day of the Dead” review but this one suffers a bit more than the others…so my sincerest apologies…itll probably be one I’ll need to correct at some point…

(I often jostle between this and “Day” for my favourite “Of the Dead” movie…)

Night of the Living Dead (1968/1990)

So begins the first of my video Halloween special series! Where every Halloween (Admittedly theres only been one so far…but hey! you live and learn!) I try to upload a series of videos either based on a monster theme or based on the season of Halloween itself!

Last years theme was “Of the dead” and dealt with 5 films featuring those architypical returners of the dead themselves, Zombies! Zombies as a trend have been dead now for years…quite possibly even a decade at this point. Zombies and Vampires have both pretty much been quite literally done to death since the turn of the century and I cant envision anything bringing them storming back to the mainstream public conciousness any time soon…

However! I’ve really wanted to talk about the initial 3 Romero zombie movies now for years and I thought with it being Halloween and there being so much to discuss about these specific zombie films…Well, the planets kind of aligned for me on this one.

The biggest problem I remember having with this review in particular was deciding which version to actually talk about…I’ve found that the ’68 versions been quite literally done to death and the 90’s versions decent but seems to be relatively underrated…One thing I definatley didnt want to do was 2 seperate videos talking about both films seperately but then; How do I cover them both and make it work?

I decided ultimately to cover both films as there own thing but to contrast them off one another when I felt I had something interesting to say about both or either one in particular…And while I feel I maybe could have gone a bit more in depth on the 60’s version in hindsight…at the time I just felt like it had been given enough of a platform over the 90’s version which just didnt seem all that well known…

(For the record: I still prefer the 90’s version over the 60’s version…I just find it has so much more to offer…)

Bloody Muscle Body Builder In Hell A.K.A The Japanese Evil Dead (2012)

I actually recall really quite enjoying this film. I mean; Its not anything particularly stand out brilliant. But what it is is a pacey and enjoyable little film that is very clearly inspired by the Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell productions that its subtitled name was quite literally borrowed from.

Having more recently acquainted myself with the likes of Peter Jacksons “Braindead” ( Or Dead Alive if you prefer)  and the recent revival of the Evil Dead “Ash Vs Evil Dead” it does kind of put this film a little more into perspective when placed alongside its peers. I do rather get the feeling though that it takes its “Affectionate tributes maybe a little bit too far and more often than not it feels a bit like a fan film tribute to crazy overly gory movies than something that stands out in its own right.

That being said as I mentioned at the top of this its still a very enjoyable film and as I mention in my review it has a lot of things going for it:

(It really doesnt help that this film had an “on and off” production history starting in the mid 90s…that being said I think it definately adds to this films charm)