Thursday, October 8, 2009

The First Zombie Trilogy of October 2009 (and another zombie flick...)

Good morning, ghouls! Speaking of ghouls, I heart zombies. Whether it's the cool folder my friend Re-Re got me (including all things zombie, even a conversion chart for metric brains) to the baseball jersey that reads: I heart (and it's an actual heart) Zombies. I even like that stupid little Pop-Cap game, "Plants vs. Zombies". I have an addiction. A serious problem.
This October I wanted to explore the roots of the zombie legend, though. Sure, everyone loves the Romero zombie, which defined the genre the way it is today. However, many forget about the voodoo legends and how zombies have changed a bit over the years (though, I'm actually reminded of "The Serpent and the Rainbow" which did work with the voodoo concept of zombies and was pretty good. I'll have to revisit this).
So I went back in the way-way-back machine to discover all that zombies can offer. It's not a real trilogy, but the films are all connected.
First, White Zombie. I'd never seen this one, and it's a real shame. I guess Bela Lugosi has always maintained that Dracula persona and never once would I have rather associated him as a Haitian sugarcane plantation owner.
The movie works. Looking at the film, it's the first of the thrities that I can see was utterly scary. The concept itself is very Dollhouse, and in a pre-WW2 time, that is rather spooky. Bela is wonderful in the film, though I question the decision for that ridiculous looking Fu Manchu beard of his. Not so sure that this makes it "authentic Haitian". Don't know, though. Maybe Haiti changed over time.
Also from the 30's, I Walked With A Zombie. I don't think that this is so much a horror movie as it is a primer for Haitian zombies. It's a tight psychological piece, that drops some zombie knowledge on our asses.
Basically, a new doctor moves to Jamaica (not bad) to hospice care for a rich guy's wife. Everyone thinks that the wife is a zombie. Thus begins the search into what is a zombie? How does one become a zombie? Is she really dying? Are their conspiracies afoot?
Personally, for me, I loved it because it's got one of my favorite actors in it (joking, but sort of not) - Snowflake.
Finally, there's Tales From the Crypt: Ritual. There's always got to be one crap one, right? Well this is it. This was supposed to be the follow-up for the Tales From the Crypt movies (following the wonderful "Demon Knight" and the lackluster, but fun, "Bordello of Blood"). Ritual is a straight to DVD release. And it kind of shocked me: the cast has Tim Curry, Jennifer Grey, and Craig Sheffer, as well as John Kassir as the voice of the Cryptkeeper. Seemed to me to be a good enough cast.
While the script is pretty good, the acting is subpar. The pacing it lethargic. The movie just doesn't work. There's some pretty good gore effects, but they're few and far between.
Why, pray tell, is this film the piece in a zombie trilogy? Well, it's not. I included it because it's a remake of I Walked With A Zombie. Jennifer Grey plays the disgraced doctor who moves to Jamaica to perform hospice care. Craig Sheffer plays the rich baron. This time, though, she's caring for his brother not his wife.
Not the worst movie ever, and it might be worth taking a look at. But, it should have remained a thrity minute Tales from the Crypt episode.

Finally...I just saw Zombieland, which I think may be one of my favorites of the year. I'll write more about it soon...because this movie had more going for it than the comedy, acting, writing. The cinematography is beautiful, the slow-mo scenes in the beginning (done by the same guy who did the slo-mo in The Watchmen) is gorgeous. I'll write more about this soon.

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