Movie Review – Evil Dead (2013)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey dungeon crawlers, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review another Evil Dead movie. This time it’s the 2013 remake (or reimagining as the cool kids like to say) of the original film The Evil Dead.

There will be spoilers ahead so put your chainsaws away and go watch the movie first. You’ve been warned.

The original movie definitely had its problems but still managed to rouse a bit of a scare. In the remake some of the plot issues are fixed but we trade any of the fun for all of the terror. There is not much humor here which is a little weird for this franchise.

The movie kicks off with a father lighting his daughter on fire because she was possessed by something. If you’ve seen the original movies you know by what and we can tell this is going to be a difficult world to survive in.

From there we see a group of friends who go to a cabin in the woods. In this version the main focus is on David and Mia who are brother and sister. There is a much more reasonable explanation for them being at this cabin than in the original. Mia is set to go cold turkey kicking a drug habit with her brother and their friends as support. The cabin actually belongs to David and Mia and this is a remote enough setting that the drug recovery is a reasonable idea.

There are still some plot holes and I have some questions about this movie but I’ll get into that in a bit.

There are a lot of elements from the first movie that reappear here. There is an evil book, there is lots of bloody gore, there is a shotgun and chainsaw, people have to cut their own hands off, you know, the usual for an Evil Dead movie.

One by one the friends do things that don’t make tons of sense, are possessed by demons from Hell and go on to kill one another. There are even several lines in this one that first showed up in the original.

The makeup and special effects here are far superior to the first film so the gore feels pretty real and the terror level is fairly high. Things go as you might expect, it’s the worst night ever for basically everyone in the movie. I don’t want to give away a lot more than that as far as the conclusion but I sure had some questions about the setup here.

  1. When they first go into the cabin it smells bad. Only Mia really notices this but at a certain point David kicks away a rug and finds a cellar (it’s unclear if they knew that was there or not) and there is a huge smear of blood on floor under the rug. I think at that point it’s reasonable to decide to find a better recovery location for Mia. But I guess blood splatter is cool for a recovering addict? Come on people, make some good life choices here.
  2. I get that if you see this blood splatter you might go down to the basement. It’s pretty clear no one else is there and it’s been years since David and Mia were at this cabin so someone could have broken in years ago. But then they go below and there are just a bunch of dead cats hanging from the ceiling. They talk about how they should go out and bury the cats. Bury the cats? Dude, what? That’s a crime scene! Call the cops. Why don’t they call the cops? Even if Mia stays there for recovery, the cops might want to know who is picking off the local pets.
  3. Also in the cellar they find the classic items from the original movie. There’s a book wrapped in a plastic back tied up with barbed wire, a shotgun with a box of shells and I believe I saw a recorder of some kind there. They never play a recording in this one (unless you count end credit scenes) but Eric one of the friends there who is also a teacher immediately opens the book. I mean, here’s all these dead cats and some object wrapped in barbed wire that you literally have to cut through to open the book. Why would you do that? Why? This is also police evidence!
  4. When he opens the book it’s full of notes about how you shouldn’t read this book. So dude decides to, ummm… read the book? Again, why? It’s time go y’all.

The rest of the movie seems fairly reasonable to me and they do close some holes the original film had. While this one is not at all as fun as the original it’s still a decent horror film overall. But without Bruce Campbell as a main character a lot is lost here. The least they could have done was cast a young Ash but I guess they didn’t want to go that route.

I’m curious to see how the sequel to this one is and if they bring some of the humor back. I hope they do because it would have improved this one.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – The Evil Dead II

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hello out there internet people, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review the next in the Evil Dead series, The Evil Dead II.

Just a warning before we get too deep into this review, if you have not seen the movie yet, I may lay some spoilers out below. You’ve been warned.

In some ways this is not a sequel. A lot of the beginning of the film is very similar to the first but Sam Raimi actually fixes a lot of what I saw as problems with the first movie. We still have a couple driving to a remote cabin in the woods. This time though, it’s just a couple, not five people together and they are sneaking into the cabin rather than going there because one of their friends knows about the place. A car crosses a bridge to get there, just like in the first movie but this time the bridge seems sturdy. The cabin itself doesn’t seem all that menacing from the outside. In general the actions of the characters seem a bit more logical here, although logic only extends so far in any horror film.

As Ash, the main character (played by Bruce Campbell) is poking around he discovers the cellar. It’s really only at that point things get creepy. He finds an ancient book and a recording of a professor who is trying to decode the language in the book. You can probably guess a lot of what happens from here. Evil spirits are summoned, Ash tries to escape to the bridge but only after he has had to murder his girlfriend, and finds out the bridge is now mangled and bent and there is no way across.

At the same time, the daughter of the professor who owns the cabin is on her way there to give more pages of the ancient book, the “Book of the Dead” to him. In those pages are the means to defeat the evil that is pursuing Ash and everyone in the forest.

Lots of gore and action happen and we even get to see Ash with his famous chainsaw hand and shotgun holstered on his back.

I know it probably shouldn’t have but the ending surprised me a bit and I think that, in addition to some of the fixes of the problems in the first film, is what makes me like this one a lot more.

Sam Raimi definitely put Bruce Campbell through the wringer on this one. He gets dumped in mud, soaked in blood, lashed at with tree branches and just generally has the worst night ever. I can’t imagine all of the filming was fun for him but it worked out to be a pretty solid film.

I’m looking forward to the next movie to see where exactly they take it from here. I know some people have more love for the first film than the second but my vote is for the second in this franchise.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – The Evil Dead

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey horror fanatics, it’s me Slick Dungeon. Happy October and I hope you are having lots of fun frights this month. Today I decided to give a watch to a movie I have never seen but had heard a lot about.

The Evil Dead is an independent horror film that kicked off the careers of both Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi. There are a few reasons I had never watched this before. First, a lot of people have told me how great it was and I was afraid it might be a bit overhyped. Second, because it has an NC-17 rating it used to be harder to find. With streaming services abounding, the second issue is not such a problem but I do think the movie gets a bit more credit than it deserves. It’s still a good watch, it’s just not as legendarily frightening as some people may lead you to believe.

If you haven’t seen this and want to give it a try before any spoilers, stop reading here and watch first, then come back and read away. In other words, there will be spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

A group of five friends head out to a cabin in the woods for a little rest and relaxation. When they get there they discover the place is rundown, there are chains everywhere, and they promptly discover an old book and some recordings that claim demons can be summoned from Hell and the only way to stop them is, “bodily dismemberment.”

As you might imagine, they have a terrible night and are definitely not going to recommend this Air BnB to anyone else. People get possessed, friends have to kill friends, ancient books are tossed into the fire to stop the whole thing and the end leaves you guessing as to whether or not there will be a sequel. Spoiler: there will be.

For the time, I think the makeup and special effects might have been pretty good. When compared to what we can do today, a lot of it seems a little silly. Even so, I can’t hold that against the film. I think it’s a solid first film to set up a franchise on, however there are some things that didn’t make sense and I have a few questions here.

  1. The characters start out driving along a lonely highway and have to cross a rickety bridge to get where they are going. The car breaks through a part of the bridge but they are able to get over it in the end. At this point, I think it would be reasonable to say, hey how about we go back and spend the night in town instead? Why didn’t they do that?
  2. Scott, the guy who apparently rented the place, or knows about it or whatever, says he had never been there and that it might be run down. They arrive and everyone but Scott just stands there looking at the cabin as Scott unlocks it. Why didn’t anyone either help to unload bags at that point or go into the cabin with Scott? Also, they are staring at the place like they are afraid of it. Why didn’t they leave?
  3. Once they are inside the cabin it seems the motif is animal heads, animal skulls, and rusty chains. Umm… who decorates like that? This interior designer should really be fired.
  4. Fine, they cross the bridge, they make it to the cabin, they go inside the cabin and they plan on staying. Not long after that, one of the characters goes down into the cellar and they discover a shotgun, an old burnt up book that seems to have depictions of demons and a recording of a professor who basically says he summoned these demons into the woods. Hello? Time to leave! Anyone? Anyone?
  5. Next a woman goes out into the woods because she hears voices calling to her. I don’t want to reveal too many spoilers but once she is in the woods, unspeakable things happen to her, and it’s by far the most uncomfortable part of the film. She arrives back to the cabin bloody and scratched up, clearly injured and understandably upset. She demands to go home but everyone seems to think she is the unreasonable one. What the heck people? Even if you don’t believe the trees came alive and attacked her, she’s clearly injured. Can these people really not take a hint? At the very least deliver some first aid!
  6. Of course when they do decide to try to leave they are unable to as we all expected would happen. I think this would have made sense a lot earlier in the movie. The whole thing would seem more sensible if once they first crossed the bridge they tried to go back and the way was blocked at that point. Why didn’t Sam Raimi have that happen instead of these ridiculous choices first??

As much as those things mentioned above bugged me, I still overall liked the movie and I’ll check out the sequels, especially since I believe they become more comedic as time goes by.

For now I will just leave you with this. If your friends ask you to go to a cabin in the woods for the weekend, ask to see pictures of the place before you go. If the pictures include rusty chains, skeletons of any kind, broken bridges or anything demon related, tell them to have a nice weekend on their own because you need to spend that time re-reading through the terms and conditions of every app you have on your phone.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday – #MovieReview

Happy Friday the 13th everybody! Slick Dungeon here to review yet another in the Friday the 13th film series.

Jason has been through a lot at this point in the film series. He’s been drowned, shot, stabbed, burnt, thrown through several windows and endured the dance stylings of Crispin Glover. He’s also killed tons of people but there is one thing he has never done. Gone to Hell.

The title of this film is Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Huge spoiler here – it’s not the final Friday at all.

Anyway, I sat down and watched this one and while it is not the best in the series it isn’t the worst either. There will be actual spoilers in the review below so if you haven’t seen this and really care about that sort of thing watch the movie first.

The film starts in classic Crystal Lake fashion. There is a woman who is alone in a cabin and getting ready to take a bath. Guess who shows up? Yep, Jason himself is back. He goes in for the kill but the woman escapes and runs out into the woods where… a whole task force of FBI agents shoot him with all the firepower they have and then blow him up just to finish the job.

Waiting in the woods observing all this is a bounty hunter named Creighton Duke. He knows this won’t be the end of Jason but he seems to know how to stop the guy.

Jason’s body (what is left of it) is taken to the morgue for an autopsy. But his still beating heart seems to hypnotize and possess the guy doing the autopsy. And Jason is out in a new body free to kill again. Not only that, he can actually switch bodies through a gross version of CPR.

Back in Crystal Lake, there is a waitress who we find out is Jason’s sister. She has a daughter who also has a daughter meaning Jason has three living relatives.

Well, you can probably guess what happens. Jason hops from body to body killing everyone who gets in his way, including his sister. But his niece and her daughter are still alive and the remainder of the movie is about protecting them.

It plays out like most of these movies do where there are tons of chances for Jason to get all murder-y, for people to run around in the woods, for the police department to mess up yet again, and in the end for Jason to be seemingly killed.

Most horror fans like this one for the very last scene of the film. After Jason has sunk down into the earth, presumably where Hell is geographically located, an iconic glove with blades on the fingers comes out to grab the hockey mask. Yep, Freddy has the mask now and Jason is in Hell with him. Do I smell a crossover coming? Yes. Yes I do.

Now that you have the plot there, I had a few questions and comments about this one.

  1. For most of the movies Jason was unstoppable but wasn’t really a supernatural demon or anything. I’m not sure this helps the movie so why change that? Just so we can acknowledge Jason belongs in hell? I think we knew that from (checks notes) all the killing he did.
  2. In the first scene Jason is easily caught by the FBI team. Now, I am not saying Jason is the smartest killer around but for decades he has been able to kill a group of people before they even figured out he started killing anyone. He hides the bodies in places that will throw them into shock and then strikes. So why in this one would he not have seen the FBI agents? It’s where Jason lives and kills best and with all the people and equipment they had there, there is no way Jason would not have noticed.
  3. The Jason movies have been fairly enjoyable slashers up to this point but this one becomes more of a body horror movie and seems to go for the gross out more than the jump in your seat sort of scare. Bad call filmmakers.
  4. Creighton Duke is set up as the guy who knows how to kill Jason and at the beginning you would be forgiven for thinking this movie would be about him. But what does this guy do? First he watches Jason not actually get killed. Then he does an interview where he says he knows how to kill Jason for a price. Then he goes to Crystal Lake, immediately gets himself put in prison and spends most of the movie there. We are never given his backstory as to why he knows how to kill Jason or why he might have it out for Jason in particular. (I mean other than just objecting to all the killing Jason does which is reason enough) So here is my question. Who is going to pay this guy for all that? He has to be like the worst bounty hunter of all time. He pretty much does nothing except give away a secret and hand someone a dagger. Other than that, no point to this guy.
  5. Also, the last time we saw Jason he had been changed into a child because of nuclear waste in a New York sewer. I realize we don’t get a lot of explanations in this series but uh, could you tell us how he came back?
  6. Since when did Jason have a sister? Perhaps somewhere in the last 8 movies that could have been mentioned. Or you know, the police could have gone to the sister and said, hey do you know your brother is a murder machine? Anything you could do to stop him would be great.
  7. There are a few scenes at the Voorhees home. This place is huge but it’s been empty and deserted for years. But from the outside it looks like it has been really well maintained. I really want to know, was someone paying for the landscaping of the yard for all these years or is someone just cutting that grass for free?
  8. Also, inside the house there is an unexplained book that looks like it’s some kind of magic book to call demons or something. Who exactly was reading that? It wasn’t Jason’s mom and I don’t think it was his sister or niece. My money is on the landscaper.
  9. It has been NINE movies now, NINE and they only tore down the cabins at Camp Crystal Lake recently. Like, this town is asking for it. Why does anyone live here???
  10. So Jason is supposed to go to Hell but we just see him sucked into the ground by a bunch of dirt hands. Couldn’t we have gotten at least one scene of him in Hell? This is worse than when Jason went to Manhattan and only spent like ten minutes there.
  11. The twist of Jason having a sister was pretty lazy writing and then using that to be how Jason had to be killed was also pretty lazy writing. I am starting to get the feeling people don’t watch these for the plot. Am I the only one thinking that here?
  12. Okay so Freddy grabbed the mask! Freddy grabbed the mask! We’re going to see Freddy and Jason fight each other right? Right? That’s the next movie right?
  13. The next one is Jason in space? But Freddy is there right? No? Oh man, Friday the 13th is not my lucky day.

I’ve only got a few of these left to review and I do actually think the series holds up pretty well after nine films, so that’s saying something. Remember if you are camping this weekend, they already tore down the cabins in Crystal Lake so you can’t stay there. Although, I do hear there is a landscaper who might have a place you can crash at.

Slashingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – Fear Street Part 3: 1666

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here to tell you about the third and final film in the Fear Street series Fear Street Part 3: 1666.

Fear Street Part Three has a big task to accomplish. It not only needs to answer the questions of how Sarah Fier came to be the cause of the horrors of the first two films, it also has to conclude the first film in the series.

While the first two would be considered traditional slasher horror films, with some supernatural elements thrown in, the third movie is a traditional supernatural horror with some slasher elements thrown in. Just like in the first two, there is nothing here that is going to truly surprise a horror film fan but that does not make it a bad movie. It’s got a reasonable and enjoyable plot. I would say the plot twist was somewhat predictable but maybe that is just because I do tend to watch a fair amount of horror.

In this film we find out the origins of Sarah Fier and why Sunnyvale and Shadyside seem to be opposite sides of the same coin. There is more to the story than the towns suspect and some of the characters portrayed in the first two films are seen in a new light. After we see the origins of the curse ruining Shadyside, we are thrust back to 1994 where the major characters there have all the knowledge they need to stop the killings from continuing.

The supernatural part of the film does rest on some overdone horror tropes and that brings the film down a bit in my opinion. However, it redeems itself a bit in the 1994 segment of the movie.

I don’t want to give away the ending because these movies are worth watching, especially if you have seen all the other horror on Netflix and need something new to watch. There is just a little edge of goofiness as well that is reminiscent of the Goosebumps series but it never goes so far as to ruin the movies.

Overall, I think the series pulls off a neat trick with the backwards chronology but it’s still not a groundbreaking new series. While I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these films, if they stopped here I wouldn’t be sad about that either.

If you like some bloody fun and want to watch 3 movies in a row to satisfy that itch, you could do worse than Fear Street.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – Fear Street Part 2: 1978

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here to tell you about the second film in the Fear Street series Fear Street Part 2: 1978.

This is the second film in a trilogy of movies based on author R.L. Stine’s series of books. These movies are much more mature than his better known Goosebumps series. So far, the films have been call backs to some of the better slasher films horror fans already know and love. I will be giving some mild spoilers for parts 1 and 2 in this review so before you take a bloody axe to my blog, watch the movies first if that sort of thing matters to you. You have been warned.

The second film in the trilogy is one I really want to like more than I do. My favorite type of horror to watch is slasher films and I have a strong affection for the teenage camp counselor variety of slasher film popularized by the Friday the 13th series. Fans of that series will definitely find a few easter eggs and references to smile at in Fear Street Part 2. But, if you’re like me, it may only make you want to go back and watch the originals.

This film finds us following Ziggy and Cindy, two sisters who have grown apart for reasons revealed later in the film. The story of what happened in 1978 at Camp Nightwing is delivered to us via flashback. We’re getting the story because the characters from Fear Street Part 1: 1994 have found the only survivor of the tragic murder spree at Camp Nightwing.

There are two vastly different towns in the Fear Street trilogy. Sunnyvale is a calm, safe place full of brightness and promise while Shadyside is dubbed the “Killer capital of the country.” Everyone knows Shadyside has been cursed by a witch and no one can get out of the town easily or safely. That doesn’t stop the two towns from being rivals.

In the first film the rivalry plays out at a football game, in this one it’s the “color wars” at camp. Basically a big game of capture the flag is going on between the two towns teenagers. This means there are tons of kids and teens running around in the forest after dark. The perfect setting for a low budget slasher film. (This isn’t low budget but they want you to think it is)

Since this is a slasher film, we know some murder is gonna happen. It doesn’t take long for the first murder to occur and we are left to watch the gruesome killings from there. Unlike a lot of slasher films, in this one we know who the killer is and even why they are doing it before the carnage really gets going.

We have all the usual characters and actions from most slasher films. There are stoners, nerds, teenagers who follow every rule, and we even get the requisite pranks gone wrong. I’m guessing you know who survives and who doesn’t. I sure did.

The main question is how one of the sisters will survive. We know she does because she is telling the story. The movie also gives us more background on the witch who has cursed the town. It seems there may be a way to stop the curse and with the characters from Part 1 learning the background, more of the puzzle is solved. We won’t know how right they are until Part 3 though.

Like virtually every camp slasher horror film there is a twist at the end but it was the most obvious twist possible in my mind so it really lost its oomph when it was revealed.

Also, it was clear from the beginning that there was way more than one survivor of this tragic night. This makes the impact of the story we are told feel much less important than it could have.

If you love slasher films you’d probably do better to watch an original. However, if you have seen all of those and want something a little more fresh and a little different, this one is serviceable. I’ll be sticking around for Part 3, mostly to see if they tie everything up well in the end. If they do then the reverse chronology angle might be a neat trick. I still don’t think it will put this above classic horror films but it’s a least trying something newer.

Fearfully yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – Fear Street Part 1: 1994

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here back to review another film. This time I watched Fear Street Part 1: 1994.

This is the first in a trilogy of films based on books by author R.L. Stine most remembered for his Goosebumps series of books. Fear Street is not a kids series and although elements of it might be considered “Goosebumps grows up” it’s got a distinctive slasher feel to it.

The interesting part of the series is that we will get three installments in reverse time order. We start in 1994 but in the next part we’ll be jumping back in time to 1978 and the third installment will bring us to 1666.

I may give some spoilers in this review so if you want to watch the movie before you read this go for it. Otherwise you’ve been warned.

The story focuses on a group of teenagers in a small town consistently plagued by murders called Shadyside. Their neighboring town is called Sunnyvale where it seems the streets are always safe and no one ever snaps and goes on a killing binge.

The opening scenes place us in a mall where there is a killer on the loose. It works as well as about any typical slasher film opening but there is nothing exceptionally surprising about it. Next we move to Deena Johnson a teenage girl who is heartbroken that her relationship has recently ended. Her brother is obsessed with the local legend of the witch Sarah Fier. There’s even a little rhyme to accompany the legend.

Considering this is a teen horror film, you can probably imagine a lot of what happens from here. Killers are on the loose in the town, teens have to figure out how to survive. Not everyone makes it to the end, adults don’t believe what is happening and buckets of blood are spilled.

The story was interesting enough to keep me watching and it left me with some nostalgia for some of the better slasher films but I’m not sure this one makes it up there with those. Still, it’s compelling enough I will definitely watch the next installment to see what happens. Or I guess what happened might be a better way to put it since the chronology is backwards. I’m not sure how well the whole thing will tie together but if it does, I may end up revisiting this film once I’ve seen the rest.

For now, I would say if you love slasher films, love music from the 1990’s (they put practically every song from that decade in this) or even if you enjoy shows like Stranger Things or Supernatural you’ll probably enjoy this. Just don’t expect it to be overly original.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – The Wind

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back with another film review. This time I watched the 2018 film The Wind starring Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles, Ashley Zukerman, Dylan McTee, Miles Anderson and Martin C Patterson. It’s a slow horror film with lots of tension building and a bit of mystery to it.

Caitlin Gerard is the main focus of the film as Lizzy Macklin. The story centers around a couple who has moved out to the prairie in the late 1800’s. Life out there is tough enough but it’s even more difficult when there might be something whispering in the wind. Something that doesn’t want you there.

If you love quiet horror and don’t mind a bit of a slow build this is a solid film. There are points that drag a bit but not so many that the viewer will be totally tuned out by them.

The film jumps back and forth in time with Lizzy recalling interactions with her new neighbors, Gideon and Emma played by Dylan McTee and Julia Goldani Telles respectively. These flash backs start revealing a larger horror and as the film goes on there is a satisfying reveal to the situation. I don’t want to spoil too much of the film but I will say the setting and the small cast of characters works very well to bring intensity to the situation and the drama ratchets up nicely.

I’m not sure the time jumping was strictly necessary and I think I would have given this film another star if there wasn’t as much of it. As far as the performances go all the actors deliver but Caitlin Gerard is exceptionally believable in her role and Julia Goldani Telles really shines every time she is on screen.

If you are looking for a suspenseful and intense film with a good amount of horror this is worth watching. But if you need more action or a faster pace, this one is skippable. It’s definitely not the worst horror film on Netflix but it’s also not the best. If you’ve seen everything else, give it a go.

Windily yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Dawn of the Dead vs. Army of the Dead – A Two-Fisted Double Feature Film Review

Welcome back dungeon crawlers, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’ve been a bit busy this last month so haven’t posted as much as I would like but I’m back to review a pair of zombie films by the same director. My favorite movie monster (and the one I’m actually afraid of) is zombies. There are a million zombie films, shows, books and comic books out there so if you’re a zombie fan, there’s plenty of content to choose from. Zack Snyder has directed not one but two zombie films and although they are not directly related, they are both zombie films so I decided to watch them back to back to see if either one is worth watching. I’ve got my opinion on which one is the one to watch but there will be spoilers for both so you have been warned.

Dawn of the dead

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Dawn of the Dead is a “remake” of the incredibly memorable and hard to find on streaming film of the same name. The original was directed by the king of zombies himself, George A. Romero. That film was groundbreaking in its use of the zombie film to make commentary on society and consumerism. In many circles the original film is considered to be one of the best if not the best zombie film ever made. I’m not sure I would go that far on the original but if you have not seen the original and you like zombie films, do what you need to in order to get your eyeballs on it, because it is worth watching.

The Zack Snyder directed remake released in 2004 is not what the original was by a long shot. It’s full of zombie action and gore, stars several of the original cast members in cameos and has a fantastic soundtrack. In other words, it’s all gloss and no substance. I can’t recall a single character name after watching it. There are definitely memorable scenes and I did enjoy the film as a whole but this is no transformative movie going experience. I’m not saying every zombie film should be an in-depth character portrayal that reflects the soul of our world back to us. I’m just saying it would be nice if the film didn’t feel like a ninety minute movie trailer where the best thing about it is each scene delivers a little more shock than the last.

Like the original, the central plot of this film is a group of people from different walks of life end up in a shopping mall at the end of the world and must rely upon one another if they want to survive. Because of some assumptions on the part of the characters there is a lot of conflict and it’s just as likely some of these people will die because of humans as they will from the zombies. The goal for the group is to survive and figure out how to escape the mall without losing their lives in the process.

There are some stand out stars in the film and as always Ving Rhames shines in his role. It’s entertaining to watch him blast zombies with cold hearted proficiency and be realistic enough to want to leave everyone because they are likely to get him killed. Of course he stays with the group.

There are plenty of plot holes in the film but I don’t really think that’s what makes this film disappointing. Rather, I think the problem with it is that it is in no way a new idea when it comes to horror or zombies or… anything. It might as well be a series of vignettes of what someone thinks might be needed to get audiences into theaters to watch a film. It does that job but barely. I’ve certainly seen worse zombie films but I have absolutely seen better. If you’ve seen every other zombie property under the sun and just need a little zombie fix, this film is serviceable, just don’t get too excited over it.

Now that I’ve laid out my feelings on Dawn of the Dead that leads me to….

army of the dead

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Army of the Dead is an original film directed by Zack Snyder made for Netflix. It’s a heist film inside a zombie film and has a star line up including Dave Bautista, Tig Notaro and Ella Purnell.

It’s the end of the so-called “zombie wars” and there is only one hot zone left. Las Vegas is still teeming with the infected but the city has been walled off and is scheduled for nuclear destruction to finally rid the world of zombies.

In the opening sequence we see how the zombie infection originally spread and we see scenes of our cast of misfits kicking zombie butt. It’s a glossy sequence with an Elvis Presley song playing over it but in less than five minutes establishes a large cast of characters quickly and is done well. Soon we meet our heroes who are all living mundane lives again, despite their life saving actions during the zombie wars.

Scott Ward is making a living flipping burgers when a mysterious man offers him a job. There’s still a ton of money left in the Vegas casinos and if Scott and his team can recover it, they will be rich, no taxes to be paid on their earnings.

This sets up the heist adventure and allows the movie to have the required “getting the team together” scene. In this film, I really liked how that played out. Usually with these things there’s at least one character who has to think about it and is barely convinced to come despite all the good reasons for doing it. In this one everyone jumps at the chance and the sequence ends up not only being funny but unexpected.

I don’t want to spoil too much of this film but suffice it to say that there being zombies in the hot zone of Vegas where the characters need to be is not nearly the only threat. It turns out there are smarter, faster, and armed zombies here who have an army.

Things go awry and the team is going to have to try to escape.

Unlike Dawn of the Dead there are several quiet character moments. Some of them do seem rushed but overall I felt like I got to know at least a few of these characters and could understand why they were in the movie. And the way Tig Notaro played her character is going to go down in zombie film history as the perfect way to deliver dry, dead pan humor that works in a zombie film. She actually gets some of the best lines in the whole film.

Now, the idea of a heist film inside of a zombie film is not one hundred percent original, there have been other films that do something similar. The idea of smarter, faster zombies is not new either. But there is enough new or mashed up here that the film feels like an original idea. The action is good albeit predictable and it adds up to a really fun ride.

While this film may not be as worth watching as the original Dawn of the Dead it is absolutely worth watching.

If you’re trying to decide on Snyder’s zombie films go with Army of the Dead.

Do you have a favorite zombie film? If so, let me know what it is in the comments.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Phantasm – #MovieReview

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hey horror film fanatics, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. Today I am going to review the first film in one of the weirdest and most unique horror franchises ever, Phantasm.

This is part of my film challenge for the year and it checks off the box, watch a movie that scares you. If you want to participate in the movie challenge you can download it right here. If you want to check out all my challenges for the year, check out this post.

Phantasm sits in an unusual place in horror. It’s a slasher film but it’s also a sci-fi film. When I was a kid, I remember watching this and being terrified. I wanted to revisit it to see if it held up and was as creepy as I remembered. I am going to give some spoilers below. This is a movie that a lot of people have not seen so I won’t give away anything too major but if you are interested in seeing it I would recommend doing that before you read the review. You’ve been warned.

In a small little town in the 1970’s a man is murdered by a woman in the middle of a cemetery. The victim is Tommy who is friends with Reggie and Jody. Jody and his little brother Mike are the stars of the film, although all of the characters shown have important roles to play. Tommy getting stabbed to death in the cemetery at the beginning of the film might be the most normal thing that happens in the whole movie.

Mike sees the tall man who runs the cemetery pick up Tommy’s coffin all by himself and load it into a hearse. The Tall Man is played brilliantly by Angus Scrimm who has a face and demeanor that is sure to be memorable. Unlike other slasher villains, The Tall Man doesn’t need a mask to be terrifying. It’s all in his face.

Soon Mike is telling his brother strange things are going on at the cemetery. There are odd sounds, creatures that may or may not be resurrected bodies and floating spheres of death that can come flying at anyone who is poking around the cemetery.

In one sense this plays out like a normal slasher film. People are at risk of death and have to escape the situation and try to kill the killer. The interesting thing about this film is the tone is utterly menacing and although the reveals at the end might seem to be odd to viewers, for the most part they work. The movie also views somewhat like an art film. There are parts that no matter how many times you watch them, they don’t quite make sense. In the end it doesn’t matter. The effects don’t hold up that well and as an adult it’s pretty easy to see how they made the scares happen. But there is no mistaking the menace in The Tall Man. And the silver death spheres are still frightening in my opinion.

If you are not a horror fan I don’t think it’s necessary to seek this one out. But if you like horror and you want something that is a little more surreal than normal and something that isn’t just your standard killer invades a home type of horror, consider checking this one out. Even if it doesn’t scare you at all, I guarantee there will be something here that you will remember long after viewing.

If you have watched this one, especially recently, let me know what you thought of it in the comments.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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