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.
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.
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.
Written and directed by Mat Johns, A Father’s Day creates a relationship that shows how strong the bonds between a father and daughter can be in a gut-punch of a short film. He uses the zombie apocalypse as a backdrop to show family bonds and how people can relate to each other. It’s a simple set up, yet it contains so many layers and so much in terms of emotional baggage. The film shows different levels of zombies and different levels of human interactions and bonds.
After a clown is killed by a virus in Romania, his corpses is brought back to the United States. Not long after, an office building is under attack by vampires and humanity’s only hope is a ragtag crew of inept night watchmen.
Coulrophobics look out, “The Night Watchmen” is easily your worst nightmare come true, but it’s also one of the best horror comedies I’ve seen in a while. Director Mitchell Altieri delivers one of hell of a great horror gore fest that imagines the world overrun by vampire zombie clowns. “The Night Watchmen” is set primarily in an office, and Altieri makes great use of it, picturing the night shift from hell. You could make a sub-genre out of horror movies set in an office work place, these days, but “The Night Watchmen” has a great time making use of the back drop, with the various halls and corners of the office, and the typically monotonous setting.
Colin Minihan’s “It Stains the Sand Red” is a movie that only has about an hour’s worth of story for its premise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a neat and interesting idea for a zombie movie, but one that runs out of steam by the time the second act is introduced. You can literally see the wheels falling off mid-way, and what should have been the end, feels a lot like a ton of filler that belongs to another movie altogether. As with all zombie movies from indie filmmakers, there are a ton of George Romero nods and winks, and they’re a mixed bag. Some of them are neat, like the opening of the film, which is an homage to the opening of “Night,” while some induce eye rolls a la the newspaper with the headline “The Dead Walk” dangling from a police vehicle.
With the outstanding success of James Gunn’s blockbuster films “Guardians of the Galaxy,” it’s the right time to re-visit the roots upon which Gunn established his film career. Gunn is of course a student of Lloyd Kaufman who began his filmmaking career working at Troma, and eventually worked his way up to his first feature film debut in 2006, directing the schlocky and fun “Slither.” Gunn’s 2006 science fiction horror thriller is very much what you would expect from a Troma alumni, as Gunn conjures up cult stars, and builds a premise that’s ridiculous but oddly entertaining. Scream Factory takes it upon themselves to not only deliver a deluxe edition on Blu-Ray (after originally being ported to the now obsolete HD-DVD), but to celebrate everything weird and wild about James Gunn.