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The Bootleg Files: White Zombie

BOOTLEG FILES 708: “White Zombie” (1932 horror film starring Bela Lugosi).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A copyright infringement accusation at the beginning of its production and a lapsed copyright after its release.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: There has yet to be a truly pristine commercial release of this title.

When “White Zombie” opened in New York in 1932, the critics were scathing in their denunciations. Words like “ridiculous,” “ludicrous,” “failure” and “Worst Movie of 1932” peppered the reviews. And while the critical slams did not scare away audiences, it nonetheless saddled the film with a negative reputation that required decades of repeated screenings and new generations of film scholars to mitigate the initial wave of abuse.
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Day of the Dead (2008)

This might stun you but “Day of the Dead” 2008 is not a terrible movie. In fact on some plane in some mysterious way I didn’t hate it. It may even become a camp classic somewhere down the line. Now before you bag on me, heed the advice I bided by before watching this. Forget it’s called “Day of the Dead,” forget it’s allegedly a remake, and just bow your head and power on through and what you’ll find is a zombie flick that’s so bad it’s… well, it’s quite good. If it had been called “Day of the Living Zombies,” or something else generic, I think the supposed purists would find it much more entertaining.

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Survivorz (2017)

The independent film circuit isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire with their zombie horror fare lately. That’s a shame too considering there are so many bright voices out there that could re-invent the formula, and deliver something massive. “Survivorz” is low budget, routine, mediocre, repetitive zombie apocalypse fodder that feels like a dull video game, and never quite takes advantage of its setting. It’s set in London England but that’s really all the movie has to offer in the way of change of scenery.

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Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

2009’s action horror comedy “Zombieland” is something of a cult classic, and while not exactly a masterpiece, it’s been admired in its own right for a decade. After many, many years, Columbia brings us a sequel that’s probably way too late. After fans demanded a sequel shortly after the release of the 2009 film, “Zombieland: Double Tap” finally graces us with the characters we love—and it does absolutely nothing new with them. It also doesn’t take us in to any kind of new area of Zombieland that we haven’t seen before, which ends in disappointing returns in a follow up with occasional bright spots.

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Night of the Living Dead ’90: The Version You’ve Never Seen [Paperback]

Full Disclosure: Although I am long time friends with author Mike Watt, I paid for the “Night of the Living Dead ‘90” paperback; the following review is 100% honest.

The making of “Night of the Living Dead” 1990 has become one of the most fascinating movie making tales of all time. George Romero teamed up with friend Tom Savini to direct an official remake of his 1968 horror masterpiece. What Savini found was no end of interference, intrusion and creative stifling from the studio that funded the film. Despite excellent creativity and clever ideas to bring to the table, horror icon Savini was turned off from filmmaking for so many years, and he wasn’t able to deliver the film he actually wanted. Ironically, “Night…” 1990 is widely considered a top shelf remake of the original, and is argued to be superior to Romero’s by some horror buffs.

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With “Survival of the Dead,” Romero Made a Final Statement for his Audience

In a year that nearly everyone across the board has admitted to being a weak one for films in general 2009’s “Survival of the Dead” continues to stand out among the mediocrity and abysmal for its sheer down to Earth storytelling in the saga of the Dead where Romero is completing a second chapter in his Dead franchise. We had “Night,” “Dawn,” “Day,” and “Land,” and now to fit in with modern society, Romero has restarted the whole premise and entire sensibility with “Diary,” and “Survival” showing the downfall of a world, now very dependent on technology and the world wide web. “Diary” is a movie that continues to be misunderstood.

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Zombi 3 (1988)

So “Zombi 3” is technically “Zombi 2” while “Zombi 2” is technically “Zombi” if you cut out “Dawn of the Dead” which was renamed “Zombi.” It’s a confusing rabbit hole that goes so deep, you’ll pass out from the confusion. In either case, Bruno Mattei’s (Lucio Fulci’s? Claudio Fragrasso’s?) “Zombi 3” is one of those so bad it’s good zombie films that I didn’t hate. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a history with it, but I kind of loved how aimless “Zombi 3” was with its zero plot, paper thin characters and the way it meanders back and forth.

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Shorts Round Up of the Week: Halloween Horror Month Edition

It’s October once again! Finally! It’s our favorite time of year, a time where we can drown in horror and genre cinema without coming up for air. For the return of “Shorts Round Up of the Week” I bring you the Halloween edition, where I review short films of the horror, thriller, and dark fantasy variety. Hopefully we can dig up a second edition of this column before the month is up.

If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers. 

Happy October, boils and ghouls.

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