Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Recap: "So Close, Yet So Far"

Aug 31 // Nick Valdez
After the fallout from last week in which Madison, Travis, and Nick witness a zombified Calvin fail to stay down, the three part ways and try and figure out what to do next. The general consensus being that they plan to escape to the desert. The funny thing is, they only seem to care about their own safety. Keeping the secret from the neighbors (who were throwing a little girl's birthday party, just to rub salt in the wound) and keeping quiet in general as folks are caught in protests over "police brutality" in an effort to shoe horn in current events. I'd see people reacting that way if we were caught in the situation, but it's still a little weird that the dead rising up would be a secret even after numerous videos and stuff leaked online as this episode leads us to believe. Anyway, this episode shifts the focus to Madison, Nick's mother, who goes out in search of some kind of fix for Nick now that he's going through withdrawal.  I figured something like this would've happened, but kudos to Fear for getting it out of the way early while there's only lingering tension rather than use it as a way to force more immediacy into some terrible scene later. We also get a better grip on Travis' family, his ex-wife Liza (the fantastic Elizabeth Rodriguez) and his terrible son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) as Travis tries to convince them to safety without exactly telling them what's going on. It's pretty stupid since Chris eventually gets rapped up in a protest of one of the "shootings" and Travis and Liza end up in a terrible part of town during a riot instead of somewhere way better. But that sets them up for the rest of the season as they take refuge in a barber shop owned by the Salazar family. Thanks to Fear's LA setting (though it shouldn't be the only reason), there's already way more Latin representation, and that's a pretty big deal for me. Although apparently neither Walking Dead likes African American characters (despite the showrunner's insistence that it's merely a coincidence of casting) thanks to three Black characters dying in two episodes, it's great to see focus on a non-White family for once.  Speaking of, Madison and Alycia (the daughter who's still kept out of the loop for some stupid reason) both deal with African American death in their own way. Alycia's boyfriend Matt was attacked and is slowly becoming a zombie (off screen for both of those things, thankfully) and Madison come across a zombified version of her former boss as she combs her school for her son's drugs. Although it's a weird idea, the show tells us it's smart by having the audience speak through some kid whose name I forgot. Honestly, he was the only kid clued into the whole thing and it's a shame he won't be around for the other episodes. Anyhoo, Nick and Alycia end up sharing some good character moments when Nick seizures. It's a little too on the nose given the moment, but I'll take it.  Observations:  This episode is one of transitions and sets the pace for the rest of the season. It'll be interesting to see where it goes, but waiting two more weeks is f**king ridiculous. Just should've waited another week to premiere it. Get your head out of your butt, AMC.  Seriously, it's a little suspicious given all of these black character deaths are just "casting coincidences." Someone's got to keep a better eye on that.  During Walking Dead season six, there'll be a 30 minute short, taking place on an airplane headed for LA, that'll introduce a character for season 2. Who knows what the character'll be like, but I don't really care. They should really focus on developing clashing familial ideologies.  I'm putting a lot of faith in the show representing these Latin character properly. They're Catholic, since one was already praying, so hey it might be good.  One last thing, love the constant alarms and sirens in the background. Always reminds the audience that stuff is going down. 
FTWD Recap photo
Yeah, pretty much
After Fear the Walking Dead's first episode set its slow burning tone for the rest of the season, and thus set it further apart of The Walking Dead's current craziness, it left a lot of folks wanting. Opinions were divided as...

Fear the Walking Dead Series Premiere Recap: Pilot

Aug 24 // Nick Valdez
Fear starts promising enough. Opening on Nick (Frank Dillane) post-drug induced coma in a dingy church, he's the first character in the series to witness a zombie attack. Naturally, he assumes the woman in question is freaking out badly and runs into a passing car. This sets a pretty great direction for the rest of the episode since the account of the attack comes from an unreliable source. But while we all know there's an apocalypse brewing, Nick's mother Madison (Kim Dickens) and her second husband Travis (Cliff Curtis, who's always hired to play a vaguely ethnic character) have their hands full trying to bring Nick back into the familial fold.  The only problem with this major addiction story is that we've seen it all before, and the same can be said for the entire episode overall. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind stories with a lot of set up, but it's got to feel like it's going somewhere. It's pretty much a stretched out version of the first ten minutes you see in most zombie apocalypse films and at times it certainly comes off that way. But there's certainly enough here to keep me attached as Nick's story is pretty compelling. Sure it's going to lead to the whole "withdrawal while zombies attack" or "need for a fix puts everyone at risk" plot contrivance, but focusing the story on an unhinged individual works wonders creatively. Take a look at the Summer's biggest hit, Mr. Robot, for a better example of that. It certainly could work if done properly.  As the show moves forward and focuses more on this family deals with the impending trauma, the skimpier plots will work themselves out. Nick's sister Alycia is a well-off student on her way to college and to "escape" from her family's troubles, but right now she's focused on her boyfriend that's gone mysteriously missing. I'm waiting for the inevitable "you ruined my life" fallout, but the longer the show keeps her in a stagnant role the worse it'll be for all of us. In fact, the rest of the family gets eye to eye with the second zombie while she's literally sent home. Treating women and minorities terribly was a conceit of the original series' first couple of seasons, but since one of the problems worked itself out there, I'm hoping the same happens here. Then again, Madison's entire plot is wrapped around her son. Soooo, I don't really know what to think.  Observations: There's a "man vs. nature" speech lol Nick starts the show wearing a shirt no human being has ever worn ever. Speaking of Nick, Frank Dillane is the best actor of this whole thing. Having him at the show's center will definitely do wonders for the rest of the cast.  The urban setting will eventually lead to more Latinos, something the original show's Atlanta setting never amounted to. I guess non-whites never made it to Georgia since they're too busy dying all the time on that damn show.  While I love Cliff Curtis, I don't like how he's become the go-to race guy. But at least his character is Maori, too.  While fans will certainly miss the massive zombie attacks, the ones here are personal. That stings way more than a generic mass ever could. 
FTWD Recap photo
Shuffling slowly
It's pretty much guaranteed Fear the Walking Dead's premiere will be compared to The Walking Dead's first episode. While the latter's premiere gave birth to a juggernaut, Fear most likely will be unfavorably, and unfairly, ju...

Scouts Trailer photo
Scouts Trailer

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Red Band Trailer is full of zombie boobs and cats

Aug 21
// Nick Valdez
Zombie movies are a dime a dozen. Everything and anything you can think has probably been done at this point, so each zombie film is already starting in a hole. The best thing any film can do is be just kooky enough to stand ...
FTWD photo

Watch Fear the Walking Dead premiere's opening scene

Aug 21
// Nick Valdez
Regardless of what you think of The Walking Dead, it's become this juggernaut of a thing. I'm not into much anything going on, yet I still park my butt every Sunday and watch it with everyone else. It's the closest we'll ever...

Tribeca Review: Maggie

May 08 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219246:42343:0[/embed] MaggieDirector: Henry HobsonRelease Date: May 8, 2015 (limited)Rating: PG-13 Wade (Schwarzenegger) brings his daughter Maggie home from the city after she's attacked by a zombie. Bite victims slowly turn. Symptoms include necrosis, cataracts, dizzy spells, respiratory problems, and a heightened sense of smell. It's only a matter of time before Maggie will need to be killed or sent to a quarantine center, and the latter may be a worse fate. At certain points of Maggie, I was struck by how Schwarzenegger has aged in an interesting way. The texture of his face is like tree bark from certain angles and in certain light. More than that, the expressiveness of his brow and his eyes has increased. Same goes for his mouth, as if the stoic straight line we're accustomed to from his blockbusters is able to communicate more with age. It's not just a one-liner dispenser, and his scowls seem layered. Patiently holding a shot on Schwarzenegger has the potential to reveal his inner emotional machinery. This unexpected depth in Schwarzengger's performance comes mostly from the film's quiet moments. In one scene, like something out of a Terrence Malick film or an Andrew Wyeth painting, Wade wanders a field introspectively. His silhouette from behind has a heftier grimness in the dimming light. It's impossible to forget he's Arnold Schwarzenegger, and yet maybe the moment works better than it would otherwise because it's Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to negate his own Arnold-Schwarzenegger-ness for the sake of the story. Maggie is at its best when it uses zombie-ism to explore the impending loss of a loved one to a terminal illness. In Maggie's case, it's about coming to terms with the inevitability of death. Had Schwarzenegger not been cast, the film would have been billed as a showcase for Breslin. She carries at least half of the film. (She's the title character, after all.) When not succumbing to fits of dread, Maggie tries to live just like a teenager. There's a normalcy about living with her condition. In a brief sidetrip from the farmhouse, we see Maggie with her friends being carefree before going back to high school in the fall. Infected or not, to them, at least for now, she's still Maggie. The film's handful of missteps have less to do with the performances than the occasional saccharine note in the script. Bits here and there feel a little too much like "father and daughter bonding" beats in a movie. Breslin and Schwarzenegger perform them well, but the actors seem more natural when exchanging small looks and little lines together throughout the film rather than dedicating a full scene to semi-expository bonding. An accretion of affection is almost always preferable to a tenderness dump. For a film that's propelled more by its quiet moments, the wind down of Maggie features an overbearing bombast in the sound design and David Wingo's otherwise low-key score. It undermines some of the control that Hobson maintains for the film, and I wonder how much better a scene or two would play if they were muted. This might be one of the few times that anyone's called for an even quieter and more delicate finale to a movie featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, but in Maggie, the performances are able to do the emotional heavy lifting on their own.
Maggie Review photo
I know now why you cry
Maggie is one of the last things you'd expect out of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Abigail Breslin, who plays the title character? Okay. Joely Richardson, who plays Maggie's stepmother? Sure. But not Arnie. Though Maggie's a post-ap...

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Henry Hobson, and Joely Richardson Discuss Maggie

Apr 24 // Hubert Vigilla
Arnold Schwarzenegger on playing his character in Maggie:“We focus so much on the people, and the dilemma that this man is in—this strong farmer that normally can handle anything. And also the baggage I bring to the movie of being the action hero; all of a sudden, I cannot handle this challenge, and I become very vulnerable as a character. So that's what appealed to me in the first place.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on physical action roles vs. dramatic roles:“The brain takes much more energy than the body does. Just look at it. When people do something mentally draining, and when you have to do a lot of thinking and negotiating— I remember when I was in the Governor's office, I was totally wiped out in the evening with the kinds of responsibilities I had and all this. The same thing here [making Maggie]. It's tough but at the same time it's not tough because you're having such a great time doing it.” Henry Hobson on keeping Maggie human and grounded:“The art direction, the costumes, the makeup; everything was very real and raw, and that allowed for the setting and space to feel as real as possible, [to make it easier as a kind of transition point] to really live and breathe in that grounded world.” Joely Richardson on the challenges of performing on Maggie:“Okay, weird comparison, but say [you're acting] in 101 Dalmatians, and you're playing with little puppies, and it's a life or death situation; and then you're doing a zombie film and your stepdaughter comes in covered with blood. They're not everyday emotions, you know what I mean? It's just going with the premise, but I my most difficult scene winds up being my easiest, and vice versa.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on working on a small, independent production:“I think there's something to be said about working on small movies, because the camaraderie and the way we worked together and the way we really got into it was different than on a big action movie. It was quite unique. Whatever performance that I delivered I have to credit to everyone around me, because they acted so well that it brought out the best in me.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on shooting quick, fast, and spontaneous: “We were shooting a scene in front of the house and all of a sudden [Henry] saw the lighting going a certain way and he felt, 'Oh, this would be a great shot out in the field; let's burn the field!' It was like from one minute to the next. What I thought was so fascinating was not how quickly we responded and ran with him out into the field, but how quickly the camera crew did. There was no one screaming 'I have to change batteries!' or 'I have to get a cable!' or 'This is impossible!' da-da-da-da. 'I need someone to carry the camera so I can roll again.' There was none of that that you normally hear on sets because of union rules and all this stuff. Everyone got their stuff together within seconds, and we all ran out in the field and shot that scene, and it was really the perfect lighting and it was very quick the way [it was done] because he's such a visual person. That's what you need to do in these kinds of movies, but it's that kind of spirit that you don't see in big movies.” Henry Hobson on the challenges of shooting in Louisiana:“The difficulty with Louisiana for Maggie is that we wanted a farmhouse, and Louisiana, when you're smack dab in the middle of New Orleans, is that there's just water all the way around, and then there's plantation houses. We ended up using four different houses to make the one house. It's a combination of the backroom, the bathroom, the other bedroom—all in different places—the porch in another place. It was a way of creating this kind of Everytown house. What we wanted was a relatability, so people couldn't quite place where it is in the country but felt there's some kind of connection to it.” Joely Richardson on working with Henry Hobson:“He gave us all very specific notes, exactly what he wanted. And he had the balls— If he didn't like what Arnold was doing or I was doing or Abigail, he would say how he wanted it. That takes courage and vision.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on working with director Henry Hobson:“People ask me, 'How do you trust [Henry]? He's never done a movie. He's done a lot of commercials and graphic design and stuff.' But to me it's not so much 'How many movies have you done?' but 'Do you have a vision?' [Henry] had a really clear vision. He had this album with all these photographs of different looks he wanted in the movie, and the way he interpreted the characters. It was very clear that I would be in good hands. There was never even a question there.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on how he helped Henry Hobson as a first-time director:“I just wanted to make sure that he's protected as a director, and that I can be a producer and let that be my responsibility, to make sure someone doesn't come in and say 'I want you to shoot this differently' or 'We want to have a different ending' and stuff like that. First-time directors need to be protected so that they can do their work. James Cameron doesn't need to be protected, you know? [laughs] I want to make sure that Henry can really put on the screen his exact vision. That's why he was hired, that's why he was put together with this project, so now let's have him do that.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on co-star Abigail Breslin:“Abigail was so good and made it feel so real. I never felt that she was acting; I always felt that she was dying. That's how skilled she is in her profession.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on if he sees a future in smaller films and dramatic roles:“25 ago, 30 years ago, I would not have been able to do that. First of all, I wouldn't have had the time, because there were so many big projects then. I was chasing the big money, and working my way up to being the highest paid actor. Today that doesn't mean anything to me because I've made a lot of money and I'm in a different place in my life. So when I get an offer to do Terminator 5, I'm very excited about that. When Universal calls me and says 'We're almost finished with writing the script for a new Conan movie,' I'm excited about that. But I'm also very excited when I read a script like Maggie, and I believe that I can be that character and then work with the director and work with the actors together like that. So yes, I will be looking for dramatic roles.” Arnold Schwarzenegger if working on Maggie reminded him of being Governor of California:“I think movies are movies and politics is politics, even though they have a lot of similarities.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on if we could take photos at the end of the press conference:“If you're nice.”
Maggie Press Conference photo
Highlights from the New York City press conference for Maggie
Maggie, the post-apocalyptic zombie drama starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. As we noted in our review of Maggie, the film features a surprisingly emotive and vulnerable perfo...

Burying the Ex photo
Burying the Ex

Trailer for Joe Dante's Burying the Ex buries itself deep

...in poop
Apr 07
// Nick Valdez
Joe Dante has had a string of mediocre films lately. A formerly quirky name in the horror genre, with films like Gremlins and Small Soldiers, but after directing a bunch of television and whatever exactly The Hole was, his d...

Review: Dead Rising: Watchtower

Mar 26 // Nick Valdez
[embed]219149:42297:0[/embed] Dead Rising: WatchtowerDirector: Zach LipovskyRelease Date: March 27th, 2015 (exclusively on Crackle)Rating: NR  In Watchtower, the zombie virus has spread round the world and the government has issued a super drug, known as Zombrex, in order to cure it. Digital journalist Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) and his partner Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy) end up getting caught in the latest outbreak when a bad string of Zombrex infects a stadium full of people. As Chase tries to survive, he runs into a woman who's already infected named Crystal (Meghan Ory), and now they must work together to survive the zombies, figure out what's going on with the Zombrex, and most importantly, escape from the group of psychopaths on the loose.  Watchtower had quite a bit of an undertaking on its hands. If you're not aware of the Dead Rising games, just know they're famous for featuring a single guy cheesin' his way through hordes of zombies while he wears crazy outfits, makes anything he can into weapons, and its narrative is one of the worst in zombie fiction. So, having Watchtower not be a complete mess is already a huge plus. It fixes this by creating a narrative all its own rather than try and adapt the current stories available. In fact it relegates Frank West, here in the film awesomely played by Rob Riggle and one of the series' flamboyantly divisive characters, to the sidelines whereas the film could've completely derailed had its tone focused on the wackiness of that character. Instead he's used wonderfully here. Adding a bit of levity in between heavier scenes and getting the laugh like only Rob Riggle can. A line like "I'll smack you with that TV" works because the film allows Riggle to be as slimy and goofy as he can while paying homage to videogames themselves.  With zombie cinema as prevalent as it is, it's hard not to get a sense of "been there, done that" with any zombie film. We've seen everything from the grittiest of grit to the hokiest of cheese, so Watchtower tries its best to find a middle ground between the two. There is a sense of loss as the film struggles to find an adequate tone for a good chunk of the film. It might be a result of the film taking the subject matter at face value. Meaning that any goofiness the series is known for is only implied, and scenes only come off as inherently hokey. While this shouldn't have worked, I really enjoyed the little asides the film gives to its corniness. For example, in an awesome Shaun of the Dead like fashion, one of the first things the characters do when the outbreak breaks is to use whatever they can find as a weapon. Which means at one point, Chase fights a zombie clown holding an axe with a muffler before running it over in such a cool way. It's a nice bit of staging that you don't see much in zombie media. It's always a matter of a survivor fighting with the one weapon they have rather than literally using everything at their disposal. As for its lead, Jesse Metcalfe holds his own well enough but Chase doesn't have enough character for Metcalfe to sink his teeth into. It's just sort of an every man. That's a consequence of having Frank West be a part of the film too. That character is so magnanimous every time he's on screen, that every thing else loses spark unwittingly. That's not to say the film completely lacks personality, however. There's a scene early on that marries the game's quirk with the film's grit and makes for a particularly gripping scene. It's shot well (as it's just a constant, smooth take following Chase through a field of zombies), there's a bit where a weapon wears out and he has to switch, and it was one of the few times there was suspense. Chase just becomes a super zombie killer after that point, and while that's interesting in its own right, it does lose a little pizzazz. Then again, that's also a shout out to the game series so kudos to the film.  Dead Rising: Watchtower isn't perfect as it runs for a bit too long, the psychopaths wear a little thin (as the lead gets a weird speech explaining his motivations), and there's a jarring first person camera trick used too often early on. But don't let that deter you away from watching it for yourself. A fantastic videogame adaptation that absolutely nails why the games sell so well, yet never feels alienating for folks who have no idea where this film stems from.  As one of Sony's Crackle service's big headlining originals, this is indeed a good show of what's to come. If they can keep churning out excellent films like this, I'll definitely stick around to see what's next. 
Dead Rising Review photo
"Zombies, huh? I had a feeling you'd show up..."
Videogames have had a rough time in cinema. Since videogames are such an interactive medium, a film adaptation always misses out on the intimacy of player involvement or the videogame's story struggles to find an identity in ...


Maggie trailer has Arnold Schwarzenegger and his zombie daughter

Yeaugh yeaugh choppa yeaugh headshot yeaugh Turbo-Man!
Mar 25
// Hubert Vigilla
Arnold Schwarzenegger's played diverse roles throughout his career: a barbarian, a cybernetic organism, a concerned father, a cop (you idiot), a soldier, a secret agent, a pregnant man, a governor of the state of California,...
Dead Rising Trailer photo
Dead Rising Trailer

Newest Dead Rising: Watchtower trailer is pretty fun, actually

Mar 10
// Nick Valdez
Starring the John Tucker Must Die kid, the AllState guy, and Rob Riggle as the best f**king Frank West possible, Dead Rising: Watchtower looks surprisingly good. With this trailer elaborating on the bits we got from the firs...
Dead Rising Trailer photo
Dead Rising Trailer

First teaser trailer for Dead Rising: Watchtower

Jan 23
// Nick Valdez
For a film based off the cheesy Dead Rising videogames going straight to Sony's Crackle streaming service, this doesn't look that bad. Doesn't have enough Frank West covering wars though. Dead Rising: Watchtower is available March 27th. 

World War Z sequel starting with a clean slate

Can we go back and erase the first's ending as well
Jan 20
// Matthew Razak
We here at Flixist actually dug World War Z despite it's horrible third act, which was rewritten and abandoned many of the book's themes to give us a happy ending. Despite all the troubles the movie had it still came out...
PP and Z photo
PP and Z

Here's our first look at Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Oct 31
// Nick Valdez
Did you know there was an adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in the works? It's been in development hell for quite some time with a script that's been written and rewritten many times ov...
Dead Rising photo
Dead Rising

Rob Riggle is Frank f**king West

Covered wars and such
Oct 21
// Nick Valdez
Remember when I told you all that a movie based on the Dead Rising videogame series was in the works for Sony's Crackle digital service? Yeah, I wasn't thrilled about the concept either, but proving movies work in mysterious ...
Zombieland 2 photo
Zombieland 2

Zombieland 2 is undead, gets new writer

Oct 01
// Nick Valdez
Last we heard about a sequel to the 2009 film Zombieland, was about two years ago when the kibosh was effectively put on any sequel talk. Then last year talk had begun of a Zombieland TV series for Amazon's Instant Video. But...
Zombigail Breslin photo
Zombigail Breslin

Brawn vs. Brainless: Lionsgate picks up Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie film 'Maggie'

So long, Toronto Independant Film Festival!
Aug 26
// Sean Walsh
Arnold Schwarzenegger has fought a lot of things in his heyday: predators, mercenaries, illegitimate children, Satan, kindergartners, robots, and even mutants on Mars. One thing that he hasn't battled, to my knowledge, is a z...
Dead Rising photo
Dead Rising

Dead Rising movie gets a director

Aug 21
// Nick Valdez
Wait, did we ever get around to telling you all there's a film based on the almost popular Dead Rising videogames in the works? You think we're ready for the zombie parade again? If there's any good zombie idea, it's how Dead...
FFS: Steadfast Stanley photo
FFS: Steadfast Stanley

Flix for Short: Steadfast Stanley, a tale of a Corgi in the zombie apocalypse

May 05
// Nick Valdez
Steadfast Stanley, a short film created by third year CalArts student John Cody Kim, is the story of a Corgi pup trying to find his lost boy in the zombie apocalypse. It's the most heartbreaking, yet heartwarming thing I've ...

Flixclusive SXSW Interview: Tom Savini, Alexander O. Phillipe (Doc of the Dead)

Mar 20 // Nick Valdez
Because we're talking about a zombie movie, I guess we'll just start off with, "What's your favorite type of zombie?" Tom Savini (TS): Favorite type? Usually they ask us what would be the scariest zombie. The answer to that is when they get together and herd, come at you thirty at a time, that's the scary one. But favorite? I don't know there's been, like even in Dawn of the Dead we had the nun and the baseball player, and in the remake we had the Jay Leno zombie. But favorite? You know what, it's hard to pick a favorite because they're all my children. You can't pick a favorite child.  Alexander O. Phillipe (AOP): Yeah, I feel the same way. I would say if I had to pick one, I would probably go with Bob in Day of the Dead. I think he's a really interesting zombie. I like the kind of remnant of humanity, but yeah I'm definitely more of a slow, classic zombie type of guy.  TS: I haven't thought about that in Dawn. Yeah, David Emge [Stephen in Dawn of the Dead], to me, that was a zombie performance. As an actor in the movie who turns into a zombie, you got the guy who got bitten in the neck. He's one of my favorites. For his performance, for the way he walked. Even though he was a dead person brought back to life, he incorporated that shot in the leg, and the bite in the neck... AOP: Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, right! TS: He incorporated that stuff into his performance.  Speaking of performances and zombies, you know how The Walking Dead enroll the extras in a "school" to teach them how to act a certain way, do you think it advances performances in the zombie field?  TS: It doesn't, it doesn't. It all boils down to "just walk slow." In the previous interview we were talking about, when I did Night of the Living Dead, we hired a "movement instructor" who conducted classes. Telling people that, "You're no longer in your body, your body was left hanging someplace. Something took it over, and is making it move. You know, something that perhaps never moved a human body before. So how would they know how to walk?" Then the people were doing incredibly hilarious [makes awesome gestures] crap. So we stopped it. We stopped and said, just walk slow. That got the best performances  [laughs] But, but in World War Z! Speaking of zombie performances, those were zombie performances.  AOP: That was freaky stuff, yeah.  TS: they were crazy, individual performances of zombies. So I love that. It wasn't just some guy with make up on, walking slow, there were performances.  So there's a personality behind the death?  TS: Personality as perceived by what you put together when you meet somebody. Their look, based on how they speak, or how they move. These are all things that come together maybe in your mind differently. So personality wise, you only get what you get. All you got from that one guy was (chatters teeth), and that's all you needed. You were afraid. You were afraid of him. So Mr. Phillippe, what exactly do you want people to take away from Doc of the Dead?  AOP: Well you know, here's the thing. What we worked really really hard on is to make sure that this is a film that was obviously going to appeal to zombie fans. So I think even the most hardcore zombie fans are going to find things and discover things that they may not be aware of, or at the very least, have a very, very large amount of fan service. I think it's a lot of fun for zombie fans. But I also wanted to make a film that is very accessible to people who, you know, may be just wondering what is going on right now, what is happening in culture. Maybe they stumbled upon a zombie walk and asked "What is this all about?" So I think people who have no understanding or no knowledge, or zombies will also get a lot from that. So, that's the hope.  TS: I like what you said in there, you're appealing to the nerds and greeks.  AOP. Greeks?  [laughs] TS: Being nerds and geeks ourselves, just imagine. I haven't seen the film, but you know what it's about, imagine the theater filled with the nerds and the geeks drooling, loving the fact that there's something about all aspects of zombies.  AOP: Absolutely, I think zombies are going to love it. You know we've been interviewed already by a few publications that are zombie centric and they seemed to have loved the film, so that's a good sign.  TS: Zombie centric? I like that (laughs). You know Pittsburgh is zombie centric.  AOP: Of yeah, of course.  There have been some complaints, on the internet... TS: You mean "The Asylum"? [laughs]...that there is, maybe an oversaturation of zombie culture. And a film like Doc of the Dead may be adding on to that. Do you have any response to that? AOP: I totally disagree with that. I think Doc of the Dead is exactly, and I'm very passionate about pop culture, so I will defend that time and time again. This idea that pop culture is very important and needs to be documented. So if there is too much of zombies out there, then now's the time to document it because, you know 20 or 30 years down the road, we are going to look back at some point and say "What was happening then?" And I also disagree that there's too much, the fact that there's so many zombies out there is awesome! TS: I think it's impossible. It's impossible to say there's an oversaturation because the movie's talking about what's already been out there. It's not creating a whole new wave, a new zombie movie. So if you think what's already out there is oversaturation, are you kidding? The nerds and the geeks will never get enough. Never get enough.  AOP: I'm never gonna get enough. You know I want to watch more zombie movies. I feel it's exciting in this day and age, when it seems like everything has been done, and yet people still come up with new stuff. That's what's exciting to me.  TS: Like World War Z.  Now that World War Z has advanced the idea of a moving herd, what's your best guess of the next evolution of the zombie?  TS: You know you're asking the question that a bunch of creative, brainstorming people who get together for the next zombie movie try to come up with. So that's a good one. I don't know, maybe they all speak in British accents.  [laughs]  But I have, there's a possible movie that I'm involved in called Death Island, where all the zombies are black. And they're covered in mud and scars, which sort of makes them look camoflauged, and they kind of blend into the scenery. There's a great scene where the director's talking to a woman, there's an uncomfortable pause as you're looking at the trees. And the 18 zombies that have been standing there the whole time, come forward. It shows you, this is a suspense gimmick, okay? In the daytime you won't be able to see them. So, that's a unique thing. Also, I want to incorporate a zombie point of view. In Night of the Living Dead I wasn't allowed to show a zombie point of view. I wanted a decrepit, kind of black and white, weird, myopic point of view. And George Romero said, no because that would give life into them. Yeah, but they're walking into each other. They're not walking into buildings. They clearly they can see. And my reason to do it would be as a suspense gimmick. Like if we're sitting here talking, and you see a zombie point of view of us from 30 feet away, as soon as you cut back to us the scare has started. Because you know they're in proximity. The best scares come from suspense. So that hasn't been done yet, so don't steal it, don't use it, it's in my god damn movie. [laughs] AOP: I think what we're going to see more of, and we're already seeing it, is the zombie comedies, zombie romantic comedies, PG-13 zombie movies, kids. TS: Oh there's books, there's children's books now. Zombie Squirts is one. It's a book against bullying, using zombie kids as the metaphor. But when you think about it, these are dead kids there. that's horrible! (laughs) You took Greg Nicotero under your wing a while back, did you expect him to blow up into the big artist he is today?  TS: To be the King of Zombies? No, not back then. The best zombies that exist today are things he's creating on The Walking Dead. And he's giving homages constantly to my zombies. There's been a Bub zombie in the Walking Dead, the David Emge zombie, and maybe I should talk about it because it hasn't happened yet, but there's a few more homages coming up.  AOP: There's a screwdriver zombie too, isn't there? The one who gets it in the eye?   Yeah, there's one that gets it in the eye.  TS: But I've known Greg since he was 14. I'm just so proud of him. So proud of what he's doing.  One final question to go out on. If an apocalypse were to break out right now, how prepared are you?  TS: Very. I don't know about him. AOP: Not at all. Not all all.  TS: All the windows of my house have bars on them, not because of zombies! Because of people! I'm afraid of people!  I have quite the huge gun collection, lots of ammo, so I'm ready.  AOP: And you know why I'm not, right? Cause it's not gonna happen.  TS: It's in the movies, but there are people that are preparing. And believing that there really is going to be an apocalypse. But these are the people that believe in wrestling.  [laughs] 
Doc of the Dead Interview photo
Talking zombies with two zombie gurus
For those of you who don't know Tom Savini, he's a big idol of mine. A special effect mastermind who's created some of the best creatures in the business. You might remember him from his stints in Knightriders, From Dusk Till...

SXSW Review: Doc of the Dead

Mar 14 // Nick Valdez
[embed]217452:41323:0[/embed] Doc of the DeadDirector: Alexandre O. Phillipe Rated: NRRelease Date: March 15, 2014 (EPIX channel)  Doc of the Dead is a documentary, directed by Alexander O. Phillipe and contains interviews from all of the zombie bigwigs (George Romero, Tom Savini, Bruce Campbell, Simon Pegg, and so on). It details the evolution of zombie fandom from the birth of the genre and brings it to the present day. If you've never seen a zombie movie, then you're in for quite a treat as there's plenty of information for your brain to devour. If you're heavily invested in zombies, and know a lot about them already, unfortunately you won't benefit as much from the information presented here. But then again, if you're in the latter camp, Doc of the Dead isn't quite right for you.  While Doc of the Dead is more of an "outsider looking in" type of documentary, it's still a film for the fans by the fans. It's a celebration of the genre and sort of dissects the deeper ideals creeping around. There's the separation between fact and fiction, the aspect of the collective mind, whether or not a zombie apocalypse could actually take place, and the major businesses that have sprung up to capitalize on the zombie mania. That's actually the most interesting aspect of the documentary. When Doc of the Dead begins exploring the people who seek to take advantage of the poor chaps who're so enamored with "survival," it hits a high point. There's a dark side to zombie fandom, the fact that it's so easily bent toward things. But unfortunately these smaller philosophical quandaries aren't fully explored as we sort of zip from one subject to the other.  There are scientific and psychological discussions for the spread of zombie mania, but it never quite dissects the philosophical nature of them. There's no true answer or debate as to why people enjoy them so much. Is it because of an innate fear of death and dressing like a zombie helps keep that fear at bay? Do folks enjoy zombies because everyone secretly holds a desire to be accepted by everyone? Or are people more drawn to the idea of becoming one of the last survivors and "fighting back" because of our intrinsic desire for brutality? Doc of the Dead left me with more questions than answers.  But for those who are even slightly interested in zombies and why the idea of them has become so prevalent, Doc of the Dead is the perfect documentary for you. 
Doc of the Dead Review photo
Dead doc walking
Zombies are some of the most divisive creatures in the horror genre. They've become such a big entity, the zombie film has grown into a genre all its own complete with multiple variations, multiple looks, and multiple medias....

SXSW Review: The Desert

Mar 08 // Matthew Razak
The DesertDirector: Cristoph BehlsRated: TBDRelease Date: TBD  Director Christoph Behls film confronts many of the issues that traditional zombie films do: the breakdown of societal rules, the social implications of surviving, the extent people will go to survive, love. It does all this in a far more intimate and confrontational way, however. Instead of skimming over issues like sexuality that most zombie flicks ignore it dives head long into it without so much as a blink, confronting these issues in stark and unrelenting ways as the group's dynamic slowly breaks down. That group is two men, Axel (Lautaro Delgado) and Jonathan (William Prociuk), and a woman, Ana (Victoria Almedia). We're thrust into their world, which consists of a run down 1-bedroom apartment, well into the zombie apocalypse eventually discovering that Jonathan and Ana are in a relationship while Axel is stuck lusting after her. The driving conflict does not come from the zombies, but from Axel and Ana's love/hate relationship as they find themselves more attracted to each other despite Ana being with Jonathan. Jonathan meanwhile has no issues sharing Ana, but the trio clings to societal relationship norms despite the lack of society, setting up a series of rules based on the games they play. The back story unfolds mostly through the three recording themselves in video diaries, a pretty old trick being used more and more often, but the performances are so sincere that it works incredibly well in the film. This is especially true once Axel and Ana begin to flirt with each other through their videos, watching each others and then replying. The two are able to connect through this removed method while entirely unable to sustain a relationship in the real world. It adds a very interesting extra layer to the film's social commentary about how we currently connect with other people. The strong performances coupled with these incredibly close studies of the characters make for a film that can definitely get intense as well as interesting. The film does have its flaws, especially the treatment of Ana's self worth being almost completely dependent on the two men's gaze upon her. While the film may be making a statement about the overt sexuality that would obviously arise in this situation Ana as a character is often relegated to simply her sex and the film's conclusion seems to establish that her meaning in life is dependent on the opinion of the men. This could actually be psychologically true were the situation to occur as Ana would feel great regard for the two men who rescued her, but the incredibly obvious sexualizing of her can often make her feel like less of a character and more of a plot device. At other times the movie begins to drag a bit as it gets lost in itself. These characters are incredibly interesting as well as the themes they're exploring, but many times the point is delivered and then dragged out too long. The tension gets lost as the message is hammered home. The movie can simply be very heavy handed at points leading to a few missed opportunities to be as good as it could be. The Desert is trying, which is something you can't say for a lot of films in the genre. There's something different about its approach and its goals and its stark look at the sexuality and violence of the situation. While it may not always work as well as it wants to it still gives us a refreshing take on a genre that sorely needs them.
The Desert Review photo
A zombie movie without the zomies
The Desert is a strange beast. A low-budget Argentinian zombie film where the main way money was saved was by having almost no zombies in the film at all. In fact the camera almost never leaves the house the three protagonist...

Movie Monday for February 17, 2014

Feb 17 // Michael Jordan
Stories Expendabelles gets a plot description and director First Look at Guardians of the Galaxy Marvel Legends What is the worst date movie? 10 Movie Valentines for 2014 Here are some Age of Ultron Vision costume details Transporter series getting rebooted with a new trilogy   Reviews Review: A Field in England Review: Robocop   Trailers First trailer for Drive Hard confirms driving... hard Check out this trailer for Oscar nominated short Feral First trailer for The Purge: Anarchy shows potential New trailer for 'Under the Skin' is still hot and strange New trailer for Brick Mansions featuring Paul Walker New trailer: Transcendence First full trailer for Planes: Fire and Rescue Trailer: Zombeavers
Movie Monday - 2/17/14 photo
A bit late, but you were hung over anyway
Welcome to an extremely late version of Movie Monday, but it was Presidents day so I knew you would have a super hangover. Be sure to check the links below.

Zombeavers! photo

Trailer: Zombeavers

Not since 2006's Black Sheep has a movie full of zombie animals existed probably
Feb 10
// Sean Walsh
So, here's a thing. Zombeavers is an action-packed horror/comedy in which a group of college kids staying at a riverside cabin are menaced by a swarm of deadly zombie beavers. A weekend of sex and debauchery soon turns grue...
Dead Snow 2 Trailer photo
Dead Snow 2 Trailer

Dead Snow 2 trailer is all setup and gore

There's snow chance this will suck, right?
Dec 31
// Mike Cosimano
Huh, I didn't know they were making another Dead Snow. Based on what little new footage we have in this trailer for Dead Snow: Red VS Dead (????), it appears our protagonist Martin will be facing off against regular zom...

World War Z The Second gets a director

Call it World War ZZ and you've earned my cash
Dec 11
// Mike Cosimano
Award-winning Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona has been confirmed as the director for the upcoming World War Z sequel, says Hollywood Reporter. No date has been announced for the still-untitled follow up, and the search f...
Pet Semaremake photo
Pet Semaremake

Pet Sematary gets a remake with 28 Weeks Later director

Nov 01
// Nick Valdez
As someone who enjoys the occasional horror film, I don't love seeing original concepts run through the ground over and over again. Sure that's what most of the genre is built on, but I do avoid lots of unnecessary sequels an...
WWZ2: Gerry's Revengeance photo
WWZ2: Gerry's Revengeance

Marc Forster won't return to direct World War Zequel

World War Z2: Gerry's Revengeance
Oct 04
// Nick Valdez
World War Z wasn't the greatest movie ever. Oh, am I supposed to elaborate? Oh well, uh, World War Z wasn't the flop it was expected to be and I guess that earns some praise. The film went on to earn the money necessary (gros...

Star Trek: Into Darkness and World War Z double feature!

Aug 28
// Matthew Razak
Did you think the days of the grindhouse double feature were long gone from our incorporated movie going experiences? Well, you're right unless you're lucky enough to live by an awesome independent theater. However, thanks to...
World War Z Film Book photo
World War Z Film Book

Book: World War Z: The Art of the Film

A full-color look at the troubled Brad Pitt film that could
Aug 09
// Hubert Vigilla
Before sitting down to look at World War Z: The Art of the Film, I intended to finally see World War Z this week following its IMAX release. Unfortunately I ran short on time. It's unfortunate since it would have added more t...

Review: Frankenstein's Army

Jul 25 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]215438:40003:0[/embed] Frankenstein's ArmyDirector: Richard RaaphorstRating: RCountry: The NetherlandsRelease Date: July 26th, 2013 (limited, VOD) My problems with found footage in Frankenstein's Army aren't as glaring as those in Mr. Jones. In other words, I don't hate Frankenstein's Army, but the use of found footage was enough to undermine a lot of the strong imaginative material in the film. Frankenstein's Army is set at the end of WWII. A small squad of Russian soldiers goes to answer a distress call from fellow troops. What they discover instead is the insidious creations of a madman (or perhaps a genius, because they're always a bit of both). Since it's found footage, there's a certain expectation of verisimilitude, but it doesn't really work for a few reasons. For one, the footage is supposed to be 65 years old but it looks better preserved than the footage from The Blair Witch Project. The footage also includes synced sound yet there's no soundman present. The film tries to explain this away by saying the camera's got a built-in microphone, but in one shot of the camera in action, there's no microphone visible. (The film's also in color and the dinky film rolls loaded into it last longer than just a few minutes, so there's that.) The most notable thing for me, though, is that the Russians and Germans in the film speak accented English rather than in their native tongues. This is one of those weird things that found footage reveals about my suspension of disbelief. In a diegetic narrative film, Russian soldiers speaking accented English is acceptable to me as a stand-in for people speaking Russian, but in a found footage movie, I expect Russian with English subtitles. It's the same way that turning into a pumpkin at midnight is acceptable in a fairy tale but not in a Raymond Carver short story (unfortunately). And yet somehow it's this mundane stuff in a found footage movie that is less believable to me than an entire army of insane Nazi zombie robots, including a man with a giant engine and propeller for a head. Re-reading that, this hang-up of mine is completely absurd, I agree. Then again, I think it's less a reflection of my own strange preferences when it comes to storytelling and more a testament to Raaphorst's imagination when it comes to the creatures in Frankenstein's Army. The zombots are all so coolly designed, and when they show up it's a complete breath of fresh air right when the movie needs it. There's propellerhead, for one, but there's also this bizarre mosquito-like zombot that looks like it could have been a side creature in the first Hellboy, and an entire group of weirdos with crab pincers and lobster claws and scythes for hands. It takes a little too long to get to this moment, which is why the movie opens up in a big way as soon as the first Nazi zombot shows up, and really takes off when we finally get acquainted with the madman who created these creatures. Karel Roden plays this iteration of Frankenstein, and it makes me wish the movie had gotten to him sooner than it did. Roden steals the film at the end, becoming just as memorable as the monsters. He's less a mad scientist and more like a deranged mechanic or demented plumber. He's a tinkerer at heart, his material flesh and diesel, and he grafts the pieces together like he's fixing pipes. In some ways Roden's inspired work in the film shows a few ways that the found footage aspect could have worked to greater effect. The movie could have gotten to Frankenstein's lab sooner, for one, or the movie could have been Frankenstein's footage rather than Russian army footage. A few scenes, including one with a brain, show a lot of promise when Raaphorst and Roden are at home within the form -- the scene feels right and feels inspired. There's a story in Frankenstein's Army that could have fit as a found footage film without much difficulty, but it's a story other than the finished film. And yet I can sort of understand the impulse to give the camera to the Russian army. They're an entry point into the madness of the film, and they help as a counterpoint to the craziness of Frankenstein's wokshop. But even then, the moments with the Russian army would have been more effective as part of a non-found footage film. Even though Frankenstein's Army doesn't quite work as a found footage movie, Raaphorst's madcap imagination and Roden's acting make me excited for a sequel. If Frankenstein's Army II is also a found footage movie, I just hope it's executed better, but I'm really hoping it's not a found footage film. That would give Raaphorst and Roden a chance to really let loose and conquer the world.
Frankenstein Army Review photo
Found footage stifles a great idea about a badass company of Nazi zombots
When it's firing on all cylinders, Frankenstein's Army is a great monster movie. The creatures that appear on screen have an odd aesthetic to them: warped, fascistic, mechanized; rusty and pockmarked and necrotic; it's humani...

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