Dawn of the Dead

March 2, 2015

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

PROGRESSING

Wyrmwood – Progressing

Let’s admit it finally; the zombie genre needs to die….again….and again….and again. The days where zombies were a novelty are over, and part of that I blame on “The Walking Dead.” And no, I’m not saying the show is bad, but it simply created the over-saturation of zombies everywhere, and to me, it’s run its course as a horror fan. Here I am, of course, about to rain compliments all over a zombie film, what kind of person am I? This brings me to “Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead” yet another quality product from the Land Down Under, which also brought us “The Babadook” last year. What works in “Wyrmwood” is it’s ability to be different, progressing the same old tired zombie flick, while incorporating the best from other zombie films.

Here’s the skinny on this flick; The zombie outbreak has finally hit Australia and the Outback is in ruins. We have Barry and Benny, two guys trying to make it out alive, and we also have Brooke, Barry’s sister, an artist who has been kidnapped by two soldiers and is being experimented on by a scientist with a penchant for KC and the Sunshine Band. Barry has been traumatized by the zombification of his wife and daughter, who he had to kill himself, while Benny is a wild and crazy Aborigine. That is the basic story, and to spoil other aspects of the film would be a disservice.

I know I said I didn’t want to spoil anything, but *SPOILER BEGINS* skip ahead to the next paragraph, or better yet, skip this review for now, watch this flick, and come back and read the rest. What separates this zombie tale from others, is the way the zombies are created and what part they play in the film. While the origin of the infection is relatively tired and true (really, a meteor shower?) and the explanation a little hokey (Biblical) the actual literal fuel of the zombies is a interesting wrinkle to the genre. Basically, when the meteor show occurs, it creates an airborne event where everyone who doesn’t have A Negative becomes infected and all fuel becomes useless and zombie blood becomes the new gasoline….yes, zombie blood is now fuel. It makes you wonder how someone thinks of this type of stuff, but if you are watching a zombie film, you should already be suspending enough belief. Oh, and there is also zombie telepathy. Again, who thinks of this stuff, but again, somehow it works. *SPOILER ENDS*

For genre buffs, “Wyrmwood” is the perfect example of “stealing from the best.” You have the post-apocalyptic craziness of the “Mad Max” trilogy, the over the top gore of “Dead/Alive,” the younger in cheekiness of “Shaun of the Dead,” the screams of “Evil Dead,” and the unrelenting zombie hordes of “Dawn of the Dead;” get the point? This film is every zombie lover’s dream and is the proper homage to everything that has come before it. What is even more impressive is that this is director, Kiah Roache-Turner’s first film and while he borrowed from the best, it’s evident that he not only cares about the genre, but is also interested in expanding it and not just trying to create the same old carbon ops we’ve seen since 1969’s “Night of the Living Dead,” and “Wyrmwood” is far and away the most original and fun “zombie” film since “28 Days Later.”

Bottom line, if you are looking for a take on the zombie genre that will both have you scratching your head at its ridiculousness and leave you with hope for the genre, Wyrmwood is that film. It’s the perfect homage and shows that persistence and people that care can and will put on a product that fans can get behind and appreciate.
Fun Fact: The film took four years to complete since the cast could only shoot on weekends and holidays.
October 23, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead (2004) – Run

The bane of the horror genre for the past decade has been the remake.  Hollywood has gotten so lazy and they’ve treated the horror genre like a dumping ground for bad updates on generally good horror fare.  I understand the point; horror is cheap for a studio to produce, they can introduce fresh new actors (namely females that will bring in the male audience) and generally, they will at least break even no matter how bad the film.  Not to say there aren’t exceptions to the rule, and 2004’s “Dawn of the Dead” remake is an example of a horror remake gone right.

Before I go into the actually movie I’m going to say this:  I do not like Zack Snyder.  I’m not really impressed by his body of work, and I think he bites off too much, thus, his work suffers.  That is the problem with “visionary” directors like Snyder.  Take “Dawn of the Dead” and compare it to something like “Sucker Punch.”  “Dawn” is great because the concept is simple, effective, and done very well (while I may not agree with everything in it, but I’ll get to that later).  “Punch” was for prepubescent boys, and it included girls in cosplay costumes, a paper-thin plot, and a severe case of style over substance.  I understand this is his style, but when big ideas are only half-realized its hard to take him serious as a director when I’m taking him as a one trick pony.

While I don’t really enjoy Snyder’s other films (see above), I did enjoy “Dawn of the Dead.”  While on the surface it’s a remake, there are things that are done well, and other things that tweak me.

The premise is the same as the George A Romero’s original; The zombie apocalypse is in full swing and a small group of survivors head to the mall to buy some Dockers and make their stand.  While the mall provides the group with everything they need, from food to recreation, they begin feeling trapped by the zombies outside the mall hungry for their flesh.  As its been told over and over, ad nauseam, the film’s setting, a mall, along with the zombie invasion, is an allegory for consumerism and how we, the “zombified” public, feel the need to endlessly consume and spend.  While Snyder’s remake does have a mall where survivors are holed up, the meaning behind the film is lost and is essentially a zombie action film.

What Snyder does right is pay homage, in part, to some of the original actors.  Both Ken Foree and Tom Savini have fun cameos as a preacher and a sheriff, respectively.  He also, as opposed to his other films, keeps the slow-motion to a minimum and tries to flesh out his characters with somewhat of a back story.  The actors look like they are having a good time, and while cheesy at times, the acting is solid for a horror film.  As a Troma fan, I also appreciate the fact that James Gunn wrote the original script of “Dead.”  An independent dude makes good.  Now, let me explain why run is the word of the day.

What I can’t get behind, and the problem I’ve always had was this……the running zombie.  Oy vey!  I’m a purist first of all, zombies are shamblers, walkers, they might have a little giddy-up, but they are not sprinters.  When you die you develop rigor mortis brain/body decay, which would have a major effect on the way that you move and react. 

I’ll also say this; I love “28 Days Later.”  There is an explanation why those “zombies” run.  They aren’t zombies!  They don’t die, re-animate, and come looking to eat your brains, this is because they are infected with a virus (a rage virus to be exact).  If you’re going to be the “living dead” you shouldn’t be able to run, its physiologically impossible.

For as much of a problem that I have with the running zombies, I enjoy “Dead” very much, it’s just the little quirks that stop me from saying this remake is better than the original.  It appeals to the ADD crowd with running zombies, slow-motion, quick cuts, and isolates the purists a bit, but overall, Snyder creates a neo-zombie film that gives the audiences everything they want; hardcore zombie gore, boobs (a little), and intense action.  Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” is worthy of your time.

Fun Fact:  While the original “Dead” took place in the greater Philadelphia/Pittsburgh area, the remake takes place in Milwaukee, WI.

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