Return of the living dead
Director: Dan O’Bannon
Writers: Dan O’Bannon
Starring: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa
Running time: 91 mins
Brief synopsis: Frank, the foreman of a medical supply company tells his new employee, Freddie, about a military experiment that got out of hand and brought dead bodies back to life. The situation was contained and the remaining infected bodies were placed in barrels, of which a few were mistakenly sent to their company. He shows Freddie the barrels and, inevitably, they accidentally release the gas inside, reanimating the dead (both animal and human) in the warehouse. After acting hysterically then calling their boss, the situation is taken care of and they go next door to the mortuary to cremate the remains. Unfortunately, the cremation of the infected remains releases a smoke that reanimates all of the occupants of the local cemetery where Freddie’s girlfriend and friends are waiting for him.
Despite what some people think, Return of the living dead is not in any way a sequel to Romero’s Night and Dawn classics. Of course there are similarities (it’s a zombie film, duh) and even links between the two franchises: the story was originally penned by John Russo who wrote Night, and Return‘s story revolves around the notion that Night was based on real events (the military drums that cause the zombie outbreak in this film contain some infected bodies from the outbreak that inspired Night) but this zombie film is in a league of its own. It was the first film to introduce the idea that zombies eat brains not flesh and it is one of the first and best examples of horror comedy where it works well on both levels, unfortunately it was released in 1985 within weeks of Romero’s Day and so suffered average reviews. It has, however, gone on to become a cult classic, and rightly so.
Gore highlights: Half a dog comes back to life. Pick axe in head then head sawn off. Headless corpse gets up and runs around. Zombie bites into skull and eats brains. Zombie torso is questioned. Zombie’s head knocked off with baseball bat. Lots of brain eating.
Best death: Although not gory, the scene where the naked punk girl, Trash (played by Linnea Quigley), dances naked on a tombstone and then gets overpowered and eaten by a group of male zombies, is well known.
Funniest moment: A zombie interrupts his meal to use the ambulance radio and ask dispatch to ‘send more paramedics’.
Dark ride – 2006 (18)
Director: Craig Singer
Writers: Robert Dean Klein & Craig Singer
Starring: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Patrick Renna, David Clayton Rogers
Running time: 94 mins
Brief synopsis: Two teenage girls are murdered on a fairground attraction called Dark Ride leading to the discovery of fourteen more bodies. The serial killer is detained in a mental institute but ten years later he escapes and heads back to the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, six college friends on a road trip think it would be a good idea to spend the night in the abandoned ride. They soon come to regret their decision as they are stalked and killed by the maniac.
This is a poor attempt at a slasher that adds nothing new to the already overloaded sub-genre. It’s not that it is that badly made (believe me, I have seen a lot worse) it’s just…average. It’s slow, it’s full of stereotypical middle-class American college kids that say and do stupid things, the story is unoriginal, and it doesn’t even have a very high body count. The few kills that are in the film are done competently and the effects are OK but that’s not enough to counteract the stretched out running time and the tired clichés.
Gore highlights: Young girl disemboweled. Torch punched through man’s body. Mangled body on floor. Eyeball hanging out. Woman decapitated while giving a blowjob.
Best death: A man has his head split in half
Zombie Holocaust – 1980 (18)
AKA: Zombi Holocaust, Zombie 3, Dr. Butcher M.D.
Language: English (dubbed)
Director: Marino Girolami
Writer: Romano Scandariato
Starring: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli and Sherry Buchanan
Running time: 84 mins
Brief synopsis: In a hospital in New York body parts have started to disappear and a hospital worker is found to be responsible – he has been chopping bits off the cadavers and eating them. Other hospitals in the area have reported similar occurrences and those responsible were all natives of the Molluca island so a small group set off to investigate further. They soon discover that the cannibal natives are not the only threat on the island and that the local doctor has been experimenting on the dead and bringing them back to life.
Released in the midst of the cannibal and zombie madness that was the late 70’s-early 80’s, this film tries something a little different and mixes the two. As amazing as this sounds, it unfortunately falls a little short of the mark. However, if you enjoy films that are low on story and high on gore and nudity (who doesn’t) then you will be in your element here. Like all of the cult films from this time it feels very dated, not least in the visiting westerners general apathetic approach to being on the island (strolling around in khaki shorts, littering and treating the locals with contempt). The make-up is pretty poor with most of the zombies looking like they had an accident in a kebab shop, but the gore makes up for that so if you can’t make your mind up whether to watch zombie flesh eaters (which also stars Ian McCulloch and Dakar) or cannibal holocaust and you don’t have time to watch both, put this on. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Gore highlights: Hand sawn off. Chest cut open. Graphic photos of dead bodies. Dismembered and disemboweled body found. Machete in head. Man impaled on bamboo. Person is disemboweled, eaten and has eyes removed. Motor boat propeller used to destroy zombie’s head. Scalp removed. Top of head cut off. Throat cut.
Best death: A man is spiked on a booby trap, has his throat cut and is then sliced open.
Funniest moment (unintentional): A man is found eating a human heart so he throws himself out of a window but the stunt dummy that actually makes the fall is so badly made that when it lands, one of its arms falls off.
Zombi 3 – 1988 (18)
AKA: Zombie flesh eaters 2
Language: English (dubbed)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writer: Claudio Fragasso
Starring: Deran Sarafian, Beatrice Ring, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua
Running time: 95 mins
Brief synopsis: When a terrorist dies after being infected with a stolen chemical, his body is cremated which releases the bacteria into the atmosphere over a small island turning the natives into flesh-hungry zombies. A small group of tourists team up with three soldiers on leave and board themselves in to an abandoned hotel but when they are over-run by the undead they have to escape, but the zombies aren’t the only ones that want to harm them.
11 years after the original was released and subsequently banned or heavily cut in most countries, Lucio Fulci returns with the sequel. Where the first film took the success of Romero’s Dawn of the dead and created a cult classic, Zombie flesh eaters 2 tries to do the same off the back of Day of the dead, but fails. Don’t get me wrong, it is still enjoyable when viewed as simply another zombie movie but has very little of the atmosphere of the original. You can tell that Fulci didn’t have his heart in it. That along with the fact that the zombies in this film are all very agile (they are always jumping out from strange places, dropping from the ceiling, one is even hiding in a cupboard and there is a lot of hand-to-hand combat) makes this a less essential entry in the zombie genre.
Gore highlights: Man chops own hand off. Body pinned to door with knife. Man pulls lady out of water and her legs are missing. Head explodes from shotgun blast. Broken chair leg through neck. Face ripped apart. Shovel through neck.
Best death: A man opens the fridge and a rotting head flies out and rips his neck open.
Funniest moment (unintentional): A zombie jumps to attack a woman but falls out of the window instead.
The thing – 1982 (18)
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Bill Lancaster
Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley and Keith David
Running time: 109 mins
Brief synopsis: An American scientific research team in the Antarctic find themselves fighting more than the cold and isolation when an alien capable of replicating any living creature it comes in to contact with infiltrates their camp. Hundreds of miles from anywhere, they must work together to survive but fear and suspicion soon start to tear the group apart – who can be trusted?
This is not just one of the best horrors but one of the best films ever made by a master of horror at the top of his game. The atmospheric Antarctic location, minimal sets and a skeleton cast that you can count on two hands let the film be almost timeless, while the internal and external struggles of the individual characters makes you feel like you are there with them, trying to guess who is human and who is ‘the thing’. What the film lacks in actual ‘gore’ it more than makes up for with the ground breaking special effects which put most modern films to shame. Miss this at your peril.
Gore highlights: Frozen body with throat cut so deeply that head is nearly severed. Charred body is found then an autopsy is carried on it. Head rips open then body transforms. Fingers forced into skin on face then body pulled along.
Best death: A man tries to resuscitate another man using a defibrillator but the patient’s chest opens up and bites the man’s arms off
Funniest moment: After a severed head sprouts spider’s legs and scuttles off, a man exclaims: ‘you’ve got to be fucking kidding me’
Best scene: A blood test is carried out to see who is human and who is the thing. When the identity of the thing is revealed his face melts and eyes pop out then his head splits open and he tries to swallow another man, head first.
Samurai zombie – 2008 (18)
AKA: Yoroi: Samurai zonbi (original title)
Director: Tak Sakaguchi
Writer: Ryûhei Kitamura
Starring: Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Issei Ishida and Tak Sakaguchi
Running time: 91mins
Brief synopsis: A family heading out on holiday hit a man with their car and are then taken hostage by a couple and forced to drive away. Further down the road they get a puncture and the father is forced to go and find help, but he doesn’t get very far before he enters a cemetery and finds a samurai’s blade which he uses to kill himself. The blood from his dead body awakens a zombie samurai from a nearby tomb and now his family and their captors must defend themselves from the undead warrior.
The title says it all with this one. It could be said that Japanese horror films can be quite vague and incoherent, and most of the time, as with this film, you have to wait right until the end to figure out what the hell is going on. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This is one of the times when it doesn’t. The first 85 minutes are spent asking yourself so many questions that you can’t concentrate on what’s happening, which isn’t a lot. Who are these people that we’re supposed to care about? Why can’t they just leave the area through the gate they came in? Why are the police there? Why does the man kill himself? Why does it keep skipping from day to night? The filmmakers may think these questions irrelevant or maybe that they have made a film filled with intelligent ideas and metaphors that are far too clever to be overshadowed by something so trivial as story. A couple of the questions are partly answered at the end in a twist that is not so much a revelation as a “huh? Oh, I see” moment. The zombie make-up is pretty good but all of the other effects rely too heavily on CGI blood. Japanese horror films generally contain certain things: atmosphere and tension, or over the top violence and blood. This film has none of them. It’s hard to believe that this was written and directed by the same people that made the awesome Versus.
Gore highlights: Head cut off. Fingers cut off. End of penis bitten off during BJ. Head chopped off. Man has both arms cut off and then head. Sword through chest, it comes out of the persons back with their heart on the end.
Best death: A man sticks a knife in his neck and cuts his own head off which shoots up in the air in a gush of blood.
Funniest part (intentional): A man tries to escape on a motorbike but crashes into a fence after about ten metres.
Automaton transfusion – 2006 (18)
AKA: Zombie transfusion (UK DVD title)
Director: Steven C. Miller
Writer: Steven C. Miller
Starring: Garrett Jones, Juliet Reeves and William Howard Bowman
Running time: 75 mins
Brief synopsis: Chris, a teenage boy, and his friends are on their way to a concert but when they get there they are attacked by zombies. Now they must try to make their way across town to rescue Chris’s girlfriend, Jackie, and find a safe place to wait to be rescued.
This film gets a lot of bad reviews and the majority of people that have seen it hate it but all of this negativity is a little bit excessive. The editing and the shaky camerawork sometimes make it very difficult to see what’s happening (especially during the action), the boom is visible in several scenes, the acting is pretty bad, but then so is the script which is filled with plotholes (doesn’t anybody own a phone in this town? and of all the places they could choose to take shelter in, why choose a school?) and the ending is a major let down – whether the filmmakers ran out of time, money or ideas, or perhaps all of the above, is unclear, but what is clear is that they expected their film to be their ticket to success and that somebody would come along and throw loads of money at them to make a sequel. Eight years on and still nothing. ‘Another bad review’, I hear you cry, well, while I admit ‘Automaton transfusion’ has its many faults, it also has potential. The gore effects are excellent for such a small budget and, without resorting to lazy crap CGI, show the majority of the kills in all of their glory. This film should be taken for what it is: an ultra-low budget zombie film made by amateurs. And that’s it. There are a lot of better films, but there are a lot of worse ones as well.
Gore highlights: Neck bite. Arms and legs are pulled off and eaten. Girl’s unborn baby is ripped out and eaten. Head pulled off. Lower jaw torn off. Head forced down onto a shard of glass. Man comes out of water and his legs are missing. Chainsaw in face.
Best death: A man gets overpowered by zombies and is starting to be ripped apart so another man shoots him in the face with a shotgun.
Funniest part (unintentional): Amidst all the carnage of an attack by a large group of zombies, a girl gets in to her car and stops for a breather, unfortunately, her car is a convertible.
The zombie dead – 1981
AKA: Le notti del terrore (original Italian title). Nights of terror (UK cut version). Burial ground: nights of terror (USA).
Language: Italian (English dubbed)
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Writer: Piero Regnoli
Starring: Karin Well, Gianluigi Chirizzi and Simone Mattioli
Running time: 85 mins
Brief synopsis: While investigating an ancient crypt, a scientist unleashes an evil curse that brings the dead back to life and he is killed. Shortly afterwards the scientist’s guests, three couples and a boy, arrive at the mansion and are soon attacked by the living dead. They must try to survive the ensuing attacks and find a way out of the mansion to safety.
I know what you’re thinking: “another film about a group of people that go to a strange house and have to defend themselves against a siege of the undead.” Well, you’d be right, but this one is essential viewing. Yes, the story is non-existent, the zombies look like they’re wearing masks and the characters are lifeless, even before they’re killed, but all of that is irrelevant when the film boasts possibly the funniest dubbing outside of a 80’s martial arts film, plenty of gruesome kills, and the weird 26 year old man who plays the 12 year old boy that is infatuated with his mother.
Gore highlights: A man’s innards are pulled out and eaten. Three zombie heads are smashed open with rocks. Lots of shotgun blasts to heads. Face ripped open by a broken window. Sword in head. Hands chopped off. Zombie face sliced off. Some decent feasting scenes, including one in which a body gets ripped apart, and a couple of good neck bites. Woman has her nipple bitten off while breast feeding a creepy man-child.
Best death: A woman has her hand pinned to a wall (by a peg thrown by a zombie!) then has her head chopped off with a scythe.
Funniest part: Every scene with the creepy man-child, especially the one where he feels his mom up and then, when she slaps him, he runs off screaming “what’s wrong? I’m your son”
The Abomination – 1986 (18)
Director: Bret McCormick (as Max Raven)
Writer: Bando Glutz
Starring: Scott Davis, Jude Johnson and Blue Thompson
Running time: 100 mins
Brief synopsis: Cody’s mom thinks she is suffering from a tumor in her lungs and one night she coughs it up only for it to find its way to Cody’s room and get in to his mouth while he is sleeping. When Cody coughs up several of these ‘tumors’ and puts them around the house, the ‘Abomination’ inside him takes over his body and mind and makes him kill to feed them.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the so-bad-they’re-good films are my favourites, but this is just bad. For one thing it takes itself far too seriously; if it had a sense of humour it may have been a little bit more enjoyable and the rubbish script and terrible acting could have been forgiven. The actual ‘Abomination’ (if you can even call it that) is worse than Audrey II from Little shop of horrors (IMDB states this was made in 1986, the same year as Little shop, but the copyright at the end of the credits states 1988) and although it does provide a slight chuckle for being so bad, it doesn’t take long to get tiresome. The scenes are unnecessarily long and drawn out and shots are repeated over and over. Towards the end of the film, an entire scene is shown again, and it was terrible the first time. One saving grace is that you only need to watch the first three minutes as all of the gore and killing is shown pre-credits.
Gore highlights: Woman has throat cut. Another woman has throat cut then close up of wound. Man is hit on head with shovel, blood squirts from wound. Hands are bitten off but you only see the stumps afterwards. Man feeds the abomination from a massive tub full of body parts and organs. Man gets pinned to wall with garden fork and another abomination emerges from his stomach.
Best death: After getting his hand bitten off, a man has his head chopped in half with chainsaw spilling what looks like porridge and jam all over the floor.
Funniest part: The overdubbing, especially the over the top footsteps, and some of the music used is just ridiculous.
Happy birthday to me – 1981 (18)
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Writers: John C.W. Saxton, Peter Jobin & Timothy Bond
Starring: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane
Running time: 110 mins
Brief synopsis: Several years after a near-fatal accident, Virginia Wainwright returns to school and makes friends with the Top Ten: the ten richest and most popular students. Virginia suffers from blackouts and is desperate to remember the details of the accident and the events that led to it, however while she struggles with her trauma her friends are getting killed off one by one.
Unfortunately this film has never been released uncut (according to the producer) so this review is based on the normal version, which has almost no gore at all. Almost all of the characters are unlikable and they seem to be some sort of swingers club, swapping partners and not caring too much about any of the missing people, so much so that in the final scene one of them is left out in the rain in shock (in the first cut of the film this character dies from an axe to the head) and two others are forgotten about totally. Still, an interesting film with some inventive kills and good cast, however the film is let down by the did-she-didn’t-she storyline and the Scooby doo style twist ending. I will, however, admit that I did not see the ‘twist’ at the end coming, but that is partly because it makes no bloody sense.
Gore highlights: Woman has throat slashed. Man has face pulled in to a spinning motorbike wheel. Close up of brain operation. Man has shish kebab forced in his mouth. Man beaten to death with fire poker. Corpses from all the deaths are seen in more detail. Man has throat cut.
Best death: While bench pressing, a man has a large weight dropped onto his groin which makes him drop the bar onto his throat.
Zombie flesh eaters – 1979 (18)
AKA: Zombi 2 (original Italian title). Zombie (USA).
Language: Italian (English dubbed)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti (uncredited)
Starring: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch and Richard Johnson
Running time: 91 mins uncut (89 min cut)
Brief synopsis: The daughter of a missing scientist teams up with a reporter (Ian McCulloch, star of several classic Italian horror films) and sets out to find her father. Their search takes them to a tropical island where they meet Dr Menard and discover that he and the girl’s father were working together to find a cure for the disease that has besieged the island: the dead are coming back to life and feeding on human flesh.
A classic of the genre with one of the best scores in horror history and some of the worst dubbing (and by worst, I mean funniest). Zombie flesh eaters was one of the video nasties and, although not very gory by today’s standards, at the time was very shocking and what gore there is still has more impact than most films today. Also a zombie fights a shark – you don’t get much better than that. Zombie flesh eaters is also unintentionally very funny; aside from the dubbing and the zombie/shark fight that have already been mentioned someone rubs coral in a zombie’s face and, when things start to kick off, nobody seems overly bothered; at one point they even stand around having a casual conversation as the zombies approach. However, this is certainly not a criticism, if anything this makes the film all the more entertaining.
Gore highlights: Shark bites zombie’s arm off. Fingers chopped of by door. Top of head smashed off with a wooden cross. Zombies seen feasting on a dead body. Top of head chopped off with spade. Cheek bitten off. Massive chunk bitten out of arm. Head explodes from shotgun blast
Best death: A woman’s head is slowly pulled toward a broken piece of wood until it pierces her eye. Predictable choice, I know, but this scene is iconic. Even people that haven’t seen the film know about it.
Dead and Breakfast– 2004 (18)
Director: Matthew Leutwyler
Writer: Matthew Leutwyler
Starring: Jeremy Sisto, Erik Palladino, Ever Carradine
Running time: 89 mins
Brief synopsis: A group of friends on a road trip to a wedding get lost and decide to stay in a hotel in a small back-country town, but after one of them accidentally unleashes an evil spirit they are forced to defend themselves against a growing army of zombies.
Dead and breakfast has some funny moments and decent effects but with talking zombies and a zombie dance scene in the second half, it’s a bit hit and miss
Gore highlights: Chainsaw through the back of neck. Drumstick in the eye. Hammer in the back of head. Several beheadings. Shotgun blows a hole through head.
Best death: A man tries to suffocate a woman with a plastic bag but it backfires when she attacks him with a chainsaw, hitting him in the neck and shoulder.
Funniest moment (intentional): Main zombie uses his dead friend’s severed head as a ventriloquist dummy
Punisher: Warzone – 2008 (18)
Director: Lexi Alexander
Writers: Nick Santora, Art Marcum Matt Holloway
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Doug Hutchison
Running time: 103 mins
Brief synopsis: Vigilante Frank Castle takes on a mob family killing all but one member who, as a result, is left horribly disfigured, and sets out for vengeance under his new alias: Jigsaw.
Fast paced and action packed, Punisher: warzone is an excellent adaptation of the graphic novel series.
Gore highlights: Head chopped off, knife rammed in top of skull, knife in eye, chair leg in eye (all in first 7 mins). Man’s face is slashed to ribbons in glass crushing machine. Broken wine glass stem stabbed in neck. Machete stuck in head. Man jumps on another man’s head while his body is impaled on a fence. Fist punched through face. Face blown off with shotgun. Corpse is seen with half a head and leg shot off. Man is impaled through mouth with wooden stake. Head blown off with shotgun. More head shots than most zombie films.
Best death: Just as one of the main gangsters is about to get arrested, The Punisher shoots him in the face with a shotgun.
Cockneys vs zombies – 2012 (15)
Director: Matthias Hoene
Writers: James Moran & Lucas Roche
Starring: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan
Running time: 88 mins
Brief synopsis: A group of inept bank robbers have to fight their way through zombie-infested London to rescue their granddad from his nursing home and get to safety.
The occasional good zombie encounter and funny moment can’t save this film from being far too cockney for its own good. And as cockneys seem to be indestructible, there is a disappointingly low amount of kills.
Gore highlights: Lower jaw ripped off. Zombie head smashed in. After a grenade blows up in a zombie’s mouth, its mutilated remains are dragged into another room.
Best death: A man has his lower jaw ripped off by a zombie.
Funniest moment (intentional): A pensioner with a walking frame gets chased by a zombie. Slowest. Chase. Ever.
Braindead – 1992 (18)
AKA: Dead alive (USA)
Country: New Zealand
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Stephen Sinclair, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh
Starring: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver and Elizabeth Moody
Running time: 104 mins
Brief synopsis: Lionel’s overbearing mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey and subsequently dies. She rises from the dead and starts a bloodthirsty series of events that culminate in the bloodiest final act ever caught on film.
Long before the overblown shenanigans of Frodo and company, Peter Jackson was well on his way to being the king of gore and gross-out with Bad taste and Meet the Feebles. Then came Brain dead. This is one of the most inventive and gory mainstream films ever made and is a bona fide classic of the genre. There are not many films that even come close to the brilliance of Brain dead and if you haven’t seen it already, do so immediately or you can see yourself out.
P.S. Mr. Jackson, please go back to your roots; we want more blood and guts, not CGI.
Gore highlights: Too many to mention all of them but some of the ones that stick out are: Hand and arm chopped off. Fingers forced through cheeks and head ripped off. Arms and legs ripped off then head kicked off. Lips bitten off. Ribcage pulled out of body. Face torn off. Zombie ripped in half but still attacks and innards fall out as he is banged on side of bath. Woman’s head is forced on to a light fitting, her head lights up and then catches fire. Head chopped in half with shears. Body parts are everywhere, one woman even starts to get rid of some by putting them in a food blender. Dozens of zombies are chopped up with lawn mower.
Best death: The kung fu priest dispatches one would be attacker by ripping his arms and legs and using them as weapons, then kicks his head off.
Funniest moment (intentional): Numerous, but the dribbling Nazi doctor just about wins.
Inbred – 2011 (18)
Director: Alex Chandon
Writers: Alex Chandon, Paul Shrimpton
Starring: Jo Hartley, Seamus O’Neill, James Doherty
Running time: 98 mins
Brief synopsis: Four young offenders and their carers head to a quiet rural village for a weekend break. After a run in with some locals, they become victims of a twisted sideshow, elaborately killing them one by one in front of an audience.
Trying to be funny and scary it fails at both and with annoying characters and a bad script (and apparently having spent the entire budget on “country folk” teeth) not even the half decent gore can save it from being way below par.
Gore highlights: Axe in mouth. Foot chopped off. Axe in head. Head stamped on by horse. Force fed shit until stomach explodes. Man gets hit by van then run over. Fingers shot off. Top of head blown off. Body blown in half. Foot sawn off with chainsaw. Blown up by landmine
Best death: A man offers to help an injured man but instead hits him in the neck with a meat cleaver several times before pulling his head off.
Funniest moment (unintentional): A man’s arms are pinned to the floor so badly that he could quite obviously escape but instead does some impressively bad acting
Land of the dead – 2005 (18)
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Starring: John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, Dennis Hopper and Simon Baker
Running time: 97 mins (Director’s cut)
Brief synopsis: While the undead walk the Earth the living are forced to live out their days in a walled city and the class division is becoming ever more apparent. As the poor citizens of the city plan to overthrow the city leadership the zombies are becoming more advanced and are planning a revolution of their own.
While not as good as the first three movies and is almost more of an action film than a horror film, this is still an entertaining addition to the series. Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Tom Savini all briefly appear as zombies.
Gore highlights: Head shot off then stamped on. Head bashed in. Fist down throat. An almost decapitated zombie flips his head forward and bites a soldier. Face ripped off. Face kicked in. Head chopped off by bridge. Some decent flesh ripping, limb tearing, decapitations and disembowelments.
Best death: A man is just about to throw a grenade but has his hand chopped off, he falls on top of the hand still that’s still holding the grenade and gets blown to pieces.
Funniest moment (intentional): This has to be either one zombie’s tough decision between a tambourine and a weapon or another zombie getting trapped in a parasol.
2001 Maniacs – 2005 (18)
Director: Tim Sullivan
Writers: Chris Kobin, Tim Sullivan
Starring: Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, Giuseppe Andrews
Running time: 87 mins
Brief synopsis: A detour sign in the road takes three different groups of people to a remote village where the people haven’t got over the loss of the civil war. The annual ‘guts and glory’ banquet is fast approaching but the guests of honour soon realise that anyone not from the south is going to end up on the menu.
‘2001 maniacs’ replaces the protagonists of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s original film with annoying rich college kids (modern horror’s favourite body bag-fillers) but still has some funny moments and gore. There are brief cameos by Eli Roth and Kane Hodder but don’t waste your time with the sequel.
Gore highlights: Hit in the face with a tyre iron and when body hits the ground the brain falls out. Arms and legs get ripped off after being tied to horses. Squashed by a giant bell. Skewered by a pole up the ass and out the mouth. Squashed by cotton press and eyes pop out. Heads on platters. Someone eats piece of brain. Decapitated head used as shield and it gets chopped in half. Double decapitation on bike by barbed wire.
Best death: Man is made to drink acid and his body dissolves.
The horde – 2009 (18)
Directors: Yannick Dahan, Benjamin Rocher
Writers: Arnaud Bordas, Yannick Dahan, Stéphane Moïssakis, & Benjamin Rocher
Starring: Claude Perron, Jean-Pierre Martins and Eriq Ebouaney
Running time: 90 mins
Brief synopsis: A group of police officers hell-bent on revenge are forced to team up with the gangsters they want to kill to escape from a block of flats that is over-run with zombies.
This is a gritty action/horror film that, although based around an unoriginal story, has lots of action and a few memorable moments.
Gore highlights: Some good bites. Lots of bullet wounds. Head blown in half by shotgun blast. Face beaten to a pulp on a wall.
Best death: The seemingly unstoppable zombie with a bag on its head is finally stopped by a shotgun blast that destroys half its head.
Best moment: One man’s last stand on top of a car against an army of undead is thrilling and you want the outcome to be different every time you see it.
Re-animator – 1985 (18)
Director: Stuart Gordon
Writers: Dennis Paoli, William Norris and Stuart Gordon
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott and Barbara Crampton
Running time: 86 min (unrated version-uncut) or 95 min (R-rated version-gore cut and plot added)
Brief synopsis: Herbert West (played by the always excellent Jeffrey Combs) is a brilliant but eccentric medical student who is forced to leave his studies in Switzerland when one of the professors dies. Now at a university in New England, West moves in with another student and soon convinces him to assist him with his experiments to defeat death with his formula, the reagent, which can bring the dead back to life. Unfortunately, his subjects aren’t too happy about being brought back.
This is one of the best adaptations of a H.P. Lovecraft story and has, rightly so, become a cult classic. With a great mixture of humour and horror, add to that some brilliantly over the top characters in West and Hill and some great gore and you have a winning formula (see what I did there).
Gore highlights: Man’s eyes explode. A cotton bud is inserted into a hole in the head. Skin pulled off cadaver’s head and brain removed from skull. The reanimated mangled body of a cat is seen. Fingers bitten off. Power saw pushed through body. Various corpses brought back to life. Eyes gouged out and decapitated head crushed and thrown against a wall. Intestines explode out of body. Body ripped limb from limb. Arm chopped off with axe.
Best death: A man has his head chopped off with a shovel.
Funniest moment (intentional): Headless reanimated body uses a medical dummy’s head to sneak past a security guard.