The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part Two

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

If the first post was “The Good,” then this is The Bad. The films I have avoided mentioning thus far are, without being too mean, worse than eating dogshit whilst having a red hot poker thrust up your anus, as a Hanson album plays on an eternal loop. These are the films even as distinguished a film geek as Quentin Tarantino would be unlikely to admit to watching. I’m possibly overstating just how god-awful they are, but not by  much. I know they are meant to be horror films, but I’m sure inducing horror in viewers at the prospect of watching them again wasn’t exactly the idea. You can go hunt them down if you are sufficiently mentally ill or have a broad and deep masochistic streak, but it would honestly be cheaper paying someone to punch you in the face repeatedly.

The first film to make me question my sanity in a week of zombie films was the comic-book adaptation Trailer Park Of Terror, which sounds like the perfect mix of everything I like, yet managed to disappoint on nearly every level. It’s not that the story is bad (there’s a nice clean line through the film), it’s just awful to look at. If I had watched it in isolation, I would probably have been more favorable to it, yet hot on the heels of some of the classics of the zombie genre it pales into insignificance.There are some nice extras with the main feature, but no matter how much supporting material could be added, it’s just another in a long list of disappointments which would sully those first few hours of flesh-tearing bliss.

The worst offender is – without the shadow of a doubt – Zombies, Zombies, Zombies, a film which any sane film producer would have bought in a heartbeat when they heard the high concept. It’s a twist on the Dawn Of The Dead conceit of hiding somewhere safe, in this instance a strip club. The survivors are, naturally, strippers themselves, yet despite having one of the best-sounding premises, it manages to destroy the idea resoundingly. I wanted to like this for so many reasons… Um. Okay, mainly for the strippers, but the film deserves no time whatsoever spent thinking about it. That I have already typed this much out is a testament to how much it irritates me, and I would rather puke blood than continue. Therefore…

That 48 Weeks Later manages to make those two films look decent by a substantial magnitude beggars belief. It’s so bad that it could feasibly be used as an implement of torture should the US military wish to get quick answers from those detained at Gitmo – trust me, even the most hardened terrorist will beg for a quick death after sitting through the first half hour, and it goes downhill from there. It would have gotten on this page for piggybacking on the success of 28 Days Later alone, but it’s unimaginable badness means it gets a special level of Hell all to itself. The amateurish acting borders on hilarious, so if you want to laugh at production values, awful acting and the kind of direction not seen since The Star Wars Holiday Special then this should suit you perfectly.

While not quite as bad as the above, Apocalypse Of The Dead is so packed full of clichés that it struggles to retain any of the vague interest which the admittedly cool cover art raises. It neither strikes an individual tone nor conforms to any of the established ideas which zombie films should strike for, varying wildly in tone from broad comedy to (allegedly) tense drama in the space of a few scenes. The brief moment late in the film where it seems to take a cue from Stephen King’s Cell is an opening which is never capitalized on, yet the “leader zombie” is probably the most interesting character in the entire film. That doesn’t say much for the leads, but they are as wooden as the stake through Dracula’s chest. If I make it sound disjointed and an awkward addition to the genre, then I am being kind.

It may seem a tad unfair to lump The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue (or whichever of the hundred odd alternate titles it shows under) with that lot, though I found it to have none of the charm or style which the best of the zombie films display. There are a few exceptional scenes which border on classic, though aside from the bandaged zombie I don’t foresee myself wishing to revisit this any time soon. I’m only being nicer to AAH! Zombies!! as it has a funny idea and a quirky style, but it rapidly outstays it welcome once shifting from its’ early premise into something that is not entirely unlike Stubbs The Zombie. Instead of being mean, I’ll just point out how hot Betsy Beutler is, and quickly change subject.

Beyond Re-Animator is the one film I’m mentioning here which I truly wish wasn’t made, not because of how bad it is, but because it diminishes the first two films in the series. The prison setting is still fresh enough that it holds some interest, yet manages to fumble some excellent set-ups with poorly thought out scares and crappy editing. I really like Jeffrey Combs, and the only reason I can think of him doing this film is that he was trapped into a contract even Harry Houdini couldn’t have gotten out of.

Those were the highlights of the worst. You may want to refrain from thinking too long on what films were so bad as to make me repress the memory of having watched them, but bearing in mind the level of quality here I’ve spent more time wondering how these films get made. The Bill Hicks joke about production meetings (which hangs pretty much on the phrase “Will there be titty?”) doesn’t seem so far fetched after all…

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