Dawn of the Dead (2004): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

Zack Snyder re-invents the late George Romero’s masterpiece in a mess of a remake that starts off very strong, gives up trying to make sense mid-way, and them limps to the finish line as fast as it can. Snyder and James Gunn’s script never takes time to slow down and breathe, jumping from one action scene to the next, from one musical laced montage to the next, and from one weak moment of tension to the next. Characters are stale and barely developed, and the script never hides that these people are meant as cannon fodder and nothing else. Worse, the script is clumsily paced, the overall film is tonally uneven, and often times the horror element is an afterthought.

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Land of the Dead (2005): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

It’s fitting that Shout Factory would release “Land of the Dead” right around the same time as 2004’s version of “Dawn of the Dead.” After almost twenty years in development hell, and with the title “Dead Reckoning,” Romero was able to finally complete his planned fourth part of his dead series thanks to the success of “Dawn.” Even Romero admitted that he owed a lot of his ability to make “Land” thanks to the evident success of “Dawn.” While “Land of the Dead” feels incomplete and under developed, I give Romero a huge pass mainly because he was given so much hell while filming the long awaited sequel. Not only did he have to scale down his story yet again like he did with “Day of the Dead,” but he couldn’t film in Pittsburgh which he always did with his zombie epics.

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1408 (2007)

Stephen King has always been less about ghosts and monsters, and more about the ghosts and monsters in man. “The Shining” and “It” were so much less about the supernatural, as they were the darkness that is already there in humanity that helps breed evil and allow it to thrive. The stay at the Stanley hotel, the experience that inspired “The Shining” also helped King garner a keen insight in to the human condition. “1408” is something of an extension of “The Shining” where a man is already doing battle on the inside and comes face to face with a presence that is only a mere extension of himself.  That’s scarier than anything that anyone can conjure up.

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Night of the Living Dead (1968): 50th Anniversary [Blu-ray/Digital]

With the unfortunate death of George A. Romero this year, now is the best time to re-visit “Night of the Living Dead.” It’s hard to believe what one small mistake could have done to alter history, as Romero’s accidental omission of the copyright sign for “Night of the Living Dead” allowed his horror masterpiece to become public domain, and for his idea of the zombie to become open game for anyone and everyone with an imagination. Just imagine if Romero had copyrighted the concept of the flesh eating zombie and we probably wouldn’t have about eighty percent of the zombie movies we have today.

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Midnighters (2017) [Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2017]

A couple coming back from a New Year’s party hits a man on the highway. As they try to figure out what to do, things take turns for the worse and worse, testing them and their resolve.

Written by Alston Ramsay and directed by Julius Ramsay, Midnighters is a thriller with touches of horror that takes its time to set up the situation and the stress of it before through a wrench into the proceeding and ads extra characters in the story and everything takes a few more turns that are surprising yet still make sense. The writing and directing of the film show that they creators work well together and them being brothers definitely help. Their work is good here and the film is a tightly planned and executed thriller.

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It (2017)

Andrés Muschietti’s “It” has proven in a year of really bad Stephen King adaptations, that it is very possible to put one of King’s most popular novels on screen and remind us once again why King is King. Muschietti, like Tommy Lee Wallace before him, has the daunting task of compressing an eleven hundred page novel in to what will end up being a five hour epic. Yet, “It” manages to come out mostly unscathed as a film that is both a spooky horror film and a stellar coming of age drama. Much like “Mama,” Muschietti’s work on “It” ends in a film that can be appreciated as a human drama and a pure horror movie packed with heart, scares, insight in to growing up in an unforgiving, cruel world.

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