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Evil 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 3, 2013

Here Comes Halloween: Phantasm II

Phantasm II – Look-a-like

LOOK-A-LIKE

Naturally it would make sense to review the first “Phantasm” before I get to it’s sequel, but there is a logical explanation; I simply enjoy “Phantasm II” better than it’s predecessor.  An odd way to begin a review, I’m sure, but I just wanted to get the semantics out of the way before I get into this review.  Welcome back to October, and an entire month of scares, frights, masks, blood, gore, inferior sequels, and more blood.

Phantasm II” is the 1988 sequel to the 1979 cult classic, “Phantasm,” written and directed by Don Coscarelli.  If you’re unfamiliar with “Phantasm” here is a quick refresher; A kid named Mike begins experiencing strange happenings around his town, with a sinister figure called The Tall Man behind said happenings.  As things begin to reveal themselves Mike finds himself stalked by The Tall Man in nightmarish visions involving corpses, metal flying balls with a taste for blood and a body full of embalming fluid and dwarves created from the reanimated corpses of the town’s dead.  Throw in a Bruce Campbell look-a-like named Reggie, and you got yourself “Phantasm.”

The sequel picks up right where the original leaves off, so for the purposes of this review, and if you don’t want to be spoiled, even though these would be 34, and 23 year old spoilers, respectively, tread lightly.  Mike is about to be taken away by The Tall Man but is rescued by Reggie.  We skip ahead roughly 10 years to an adult Mike who is being released from the local mental hospital.  After tragedy besets Reggie, the two spring into action to track down The Tall Man and end his reign of terror, forever.  Joined by a young girl, named Liz, with a psychic link to Mike, the trio head out to, once again, stop The Tall Man’s devious plans, including the creation of more zombie dwarves and to rescue Liz’s grandmother.

What I love about “Phantasm II” is the excess.  You can see clearly that the sequel takes a lot of it’s cues from another famous cult classic sequel; “Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn.”  While the original “Phantasm” relied on real scares and it’s tone to convey a feeling of dread, just like “The Evil Dead,” it’s sequel relies on banter between Mike and Reggie and a lighter tone, which includes a chainsaw fight and the creation of a quadruple shotgun, smells like “Evil Dead II.”  Consider the time frame between all the films as well.  “Phantasm” was released two years before “Evil Dead” and you can see some similarities in the tone, but that was also the sign of the times in the late 1970s and 80s.  Fast-forward to 1987, when “Evil Dead II” is released with a more comedic tone, and a year later “Phantasm II” is released with a lighter tone as well.  I’m not saying that “Phantasm” and “Evil Dead” share much with one another, but in comparing the two, you can see where there are similarities and the fact that each franchise borrowed a little from one another.

Now back to the “Phantasm II.”  I’m sure purists who love “Phantasm” will kill me for saying the sequel is superior, and I’m not actually saying that, I’m just saying that “Phantasm II” is more accessible for non-fans than the original.  Just as he was in the first film, Angus Scrimm literally stands out, again, as The Tall Man, the series’ main antagonist.  While The Tall Man never received the fanfare of Jason, Freddy, or Michael Myers, there was still something very creepy about an old supernatural man who steals corpses to create evil dwarves.  I liken The Tall Man to Henry Kane from the “Poltergeist” series as they both share a similar, skeletal look.

Like most sequels in the late 1980s, there is an extreme case of style-over-substance in “Phantasm II” with more special effects, spotty acting, and plot holes big enough to throw a million of those killer metal balls into.  However, the cheese doesn’t take away from the fun.  There are some excellent creature effects, done by a than relatively unknown Greg Nicotero and Robert Kurtzman, now of “The Walking Dead” fame.  And of course, it’s no surprise that Nicotero also did effects on “Evil Dead II.”  The comparisons continue!

While not exceptional, “Phantasm II” is a fun little sequel that lives in the zeitgeist of horror during the late-1980s.  It’s over indulgent, silly, campy, and not as good as it’s original.  But, it gives horror and gore fans what they wanted; MORE!

Fun Fact:  For even more The Evil Dead/Phantasm fun, take a look at one of the bags an undertaker is filling up and you might catch the name on the name.  That name being Sam Raimi.  Meta!!!!

April 11, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast : March 2013


You might ask yourself, “Hey Simplistic Reviews!  It’s April, this isn’t the March Podcast.”  Well, yeah, you’re right……that’s all I got.  You got us listening public, this is the March Simplistic Reviews Podcast, posted in April.

We discuss everything from chocolate Easter bunnies to Peeps and even fit in some time to worship the Season Three Premiere of “Game of Thrones.”

And while it seems like we have no shame (have you listened to any of our previous podcasts) we actually do, as we introduce a new segment, “Simply Ashamed” where we talk about crying, bestiality, and illegally recording “Ghost Rider,” but not necessarily in that order.

So gather around the old iPod, or your Zune, bring grandma and enjoy the fun of The Simplistic Reviews March Podcast.

Click on the link below to download the podcast and enjoy folks!

Show Notes

Sexy Cartoon Babes
Game of Thrones Love
Understanding Shame


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

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April 2, 2013

Sneak Preview: Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead – Ode

*I’d like to thank aintitcool.com for putting on this sneak preview of the film down in Miami, FL, and of course for bringing Bruce Campbell.*

I’m not one for April Fool’s pranks. I find them annoying, stupid, and most of the time, ridiculous.  But there are times when one happens, and its wonderful.  It’s even better when you are going to see one of the most classic horror films of all time, 1981’s “The Evil Dead” with Bruce Campbell in the audience introducing the film and conducting a Q&A after the film.  It’s even better when the film starts, gets about a minute in, and the film breaks, revealing the trick, which I had a sneaking suspicion was coming.  April Fool’s, you’re not here to watch “The Evil Dead” ’81, you’re here to watch “Evil Dead” 2013.  Truly, truly awesome, and now I’m lucky enough to bring you kids a review of the as-of-yet-unreleased “Evil Dead” remake, which is an ode to everything wonderful and right with horror remakes.

Everything you’ve heard about “Evil Dead” is warranted; it’s a brutal, bloody, gory, sick, twisted, squirm-inducing nightmare.  In the best way possible.  While, as a rule, horror remakes are usually unnecessary, I really thought “The Evil Dead” was in need of a tune-up.  Coming out three years after “Halloween” and merely a year after the genre game-changer “Friday the 13th,” “Dead” made it’s mark as The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror.  It was low-budget, gritty, and a new take on the slasher genre.  It had the demonic spirit of “The Exorcist” but the wink-wink-nod-nod of “Friday the 13th” and even some old Herschel Gordon Lewis films.  However, if you look at “Dead” now, it seems dated.  You can tell that it only took them about $300,000.00 to make the film.  Still, I believe in keeping a classic, a classic, and not messing with a good thing.  Come some 30 years and two sequels later, a new vision of “Evil Dead” is about to be unleashed nationwide, and with the blessing of Sam Raimi and Mr. Bruce Campbell, I can honestly say we got a winner.

While keeping with the spirit of the original film, we follow five teens who have decided to head out to the middle of nowhere to a cabin in the woods.  The added twist this time around is that they are there for an intervention for Mia, played by Jane Levy, who could be America’s newest Scream Queen, a heroin-addict who just suffered an overdose.  I liked the fact that the teens are in the woods for a reason, because in films like these you always get a lot of red herrings, namely the Necronomicon, which is unnamed in this version, but you should know what the Necronomicon is at this point, where you have to suspend disbelief nearly the entire film, and don’t worry, you’ll have to do it anyway for most of this movie, in a good way.

While the story is reasonably strong for the genre, the violence and gore is ramped up to 11, and it’s wonderful.  The gore effects are great, and I was surprised to see that WETA was behind some of the work, and it makes sense, because some of the effects are right out of “Dead/Alive,” before Peter Jackson got all Hollywood on us genre fans.

As a horror film, “Evil Dead” is fine, a bloody-romp in the vein of what most people are used to out of the horror genre these days, as a remake, one of the best ones made.  And while I use the term “remake,” “Dead” is more like a re-imagining of the original.  There are various odes to Raimi’s masterwork, including our heroine wearing a Michigan State sweater, to the old car that she is also sitting on.  We even get some chainsaw, yes, a chainsaw, what would an “Evil Dead” movie be without some chainsaw.  With all that being said, if you’re a purist, go into “Evil Dead” with an open mind, and have fun with it; there are plenty of odes to the original, and if you’re new to the world of Ash and the Deadites, do your homework and watch “The Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn” and “Army of Darkness” (the primitive screw-head next to me kept calling it “Evil Dead 3.”  I wanted to tell him to go home because his mom called, and he had chores to do, plus it was a school night).  2013’s “Evil Dead.”  In a world full or remakes and bad ideas, its nice to see they got something right.  Hail to the King, baby…..

Fun Fact:  Look closely at the car Mia is sitting on and you’ll notice that it’s an Oldsmobile Delta Royale 88, the same car used in the original “Evil Dead” trilogy. Which begs the question, could this possibly be a sequel as opposed to a remake, or just coincidence?

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