It’s been a busy past few days drawing something big and getting ready for Emerald City Comic-Con! If you’re around Seattle, please stop by at booth GG-07. I’ll have some new (and old but not-seen-in-awhile) stuff to show off.
Recently I saw two borderline ‘zombie’ movies that I had put on the Map of Zombies based on others’ descriptions, but hadn’t seen yet myself. Both were made in 2008.
I’d heard SPLINTER was a fungus-infection movie, and it is, but it’s actually a tiny bit more like THE BLOB or THE THING; the parasitic fungus/thing-from-underground/whatever doesn’t even leave its hosts with a vaguely human form, instead stitching and intertwining multiple bodies together into a mass of limbs and dead flesh. In other words, I realize to my horror that I should have listed it on the Map under “Mutagenic Corpse-Parasites” rather than living fungus-zombies — curses! Anyway, it’s a good monster movie, with good if simple characterizations of the tiny cast of four, and the creature looks suitably gruesome, although it moves so fast and is shot so jerkily we rarely get a good view of its human-centipede-esque whole — which I think is entirely the filmmakers’ intention, and it works. From the trailer, I’d thought it would be more of a body-horror movie about contamination and infection, but actually this aspect is less important to the heroes than just trying not to get killed and smashed to little twitching pieces by the fungus-blob. A good, simple movie.
OUTPOST, which came to my attention through a glowing review on Steven Shaw’s “Watching the Dead”, is definitely my favorite Nazi-zombie movie. It’s a little thin-soup plotwise, with little dialogue, characterization or subplotting, but that’s fine for what it is; the deleted scenes on the DVD are mostly more character-building dialogue but upon reviewing it the movie works better when you’re just thrust into this bleak situation somewhere in Eastern Europe with these characters you barely know. Plus, it stars Titus Pullo from “Rome”! -_- Impressively, the whole thing is played totally straight and humorless (unlike, say, SPLINTER, which even though it’s by no means a comedy has its bits of silly banter and one great moment of gallows humor involving an exacto knife and a stone block). The plot involves murderous sci-fi Nazi undead in an old bunker (the movie’s one set), but they’re much, much more than ‘undead’, and the grim situation plays out with simple but inexorable logic. Or mostly logic, anyway. SPOILER — I appreciate the fact that the Nazis never talk or utter a word. My only tiny quibble is that, given what the soldiers do, it could have been EVEN gorier and more sadistic (Lucio Fulci, we miss you and your eye-injury scenes). (Also, offhandedly, the Nazis probably wouldn’t have drawn their own soldiers quite so evil-looking in the animated WW2 Nazi propaganda film the characters discover midway through the movie. But still, the bit of fake-WW2-propaganda was effective and creepy.) As you can tell, both these quibbles are super-minor, so I recommend the movie. There are two sequels, of which the 2nd movie, BLACK SUN, sounds faintly interesting (it seems to expand the premise out to the logical conclusion, although it’s equally low-budget) and the 3rd, RISE OF THE SPETSNAZ, sounds stupid — it’s a prequel which, apparently, replaces the scary super-zombies of the first OUTPOST with boring old regular zombies! Lame.
NEXT UPDATE: Friday! At Emerald City Comic-con!