#31DaysOfHorror: Oct23

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I must confess, after watching the original, I waited until after the stroke of midnight to watch the 1990 remake, Directed by FX legend Tom Savini. Part of the reason was that I was truly feeling bored after viewing the original, and also because I feel the remake is the superior film. Now before all you Zom-aniacs get your corpse paint in a bunch and shamble over here to moan your displeasure, chill the fuck out and read to the end of this entry.

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The story is largely the same as the original. Barbara and her brother Johnny make a long drive from…somewhere…to lay flowers on the grave of a deceased parent(this time their Mother), Johnny is killed in the graveyard by reanimated corpse, and Barbara is chased into the woods, finding refuge in a house. The weak-willed and prone to hysterics Barbara finds more reanimated dead are coming for her, but just as she’s about to give up, reinforcements arrive as Ben, a tough black man arrives seeking gas for his truck, or shelter. Later the two discover more people hiding in the cellar, and tensions rise as the group battles to overcome their own fears while realizing that as they fight to keep the monsters out, the real monsters might be themselves.

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Savini knew that the story wasn’t broke and didn’t need fixing, yet still added depth to all characters, particularly Cooper, Ben and Barbara. Cooper is portrayed with largely the same qualities, but he seems to be meaner, nastier, and a bit of a drunk in this version. Ben is portrayed by Tony Todd, who not only brings his amazing voice to the role but adds a soul to Ben not seen before. Todd’s Ben would never hit Barbara if she got hysterical, but instead helps her come back to reality and fight for her survival. Even his confrontations with Cooper seem to have just a little bit extra venom dripping from them. The biggest change is in Barbara.

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In the original, Barbara served no purpose other than being the pretty woman in peril who screamed a lot. She contributed nothing but hysterics and pretty much got in the way all the time. Patricia Tallman starts the film off as a useless ball of hysterics just like the original. After facing the legions of the Undead with the help of Ben, she begins to find her strength and a determination to live through the chaos. This strength goes one step further as her transformation from Milquetoast to badass is complete in the 3rd act. She ditches her feminine attire for functional garb, arms herself and gains a killer instinct. Its for these reasons I feel this is the better version. The characters are far more engaging, the cinematography is better, the action seems to flow better, and since the Director is a FX legend, you know the Zombies are going to look sick!

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#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 22

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Very few films transcend the Horror genre and even fewer kickstart a Global Phenomenon. Night Of the Living Dead was groundbreaking in it’s time and forever changed the landscape of fright films. Look no further than the success of properties like Resident Evil, Shaun Of The Dead, the Walking Dead, and Zombiewalk to see that The Living Dead are here to stay.

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In plan on doing a very in depth review of NOTLD in the future, so I won’t get too deep into things just yet. Just know that a commentary on the themes of civil unrest, racial tension, and subversion will be made. I’ll also examine the lineage of NOTLD, its various sequels and spin offs, both official and unofficial. Trust me, it gets convoluted!

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On this fine evening, I saw NOTLD presented by the Gentleman Hecklers. This is a local collection of 3 comedians who screen films, then sit in the front row with live microphones and talk shit about the film while it’s playing. Sort of a live version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, if you will. Something occurred to me that hadn’t during any other viewing of the film. It’s really boring at times! Don’t get me wrong, I still love the film, but having the Hecklers point out how much of the running time is taken up by absolutely nothing happening was somewhat of a revelation. How often do we, as devout Horror fans excuse “Nothing Happening” for a slow burn or atmosphere? I’m gonna say it goes both ways, it really just depends on how you view it. If you are by yourself or with other Horror Fans, lack of action can easily be nailed down to slow-burn psychological terror…but if you’re with your buddies and in the mood for a good time, then it won’t be long before someone yells “Boooooring! Let’s drink til Barbara gets naked!”

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 26th

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Oct 26th: Return Of The Living Dead(1985): http://youtu.be/wylpeAXYcBQ

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For a 1985 Horror Comedy with a wacky ensemble cast and dated(yet awesome) music, Dan O’Bannon’s “The Return Of The Living Dead” holds up incredibly well. This film remains one of the most fun films ever made. From Linnea Quigley’s iconic nude graveyard romp, the the epic Tar-man, who looks like a living Bernie Wrightson drawing, to the strains of “Do Ya Wanna Party?” by 45 Grave blaring as dozens of the undead crawl from their graves, this film hits on all cylinders!

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Anyone who considers themselves a Zombie fan, and lets face it…there are an awful lot of you trendy lil bandwagon jumpers out there…owe a huge debt of thanks to ROTLD, as this was the film that introduced the notion of Zombies eating brains. Another plus for this film is the last minute inclusion of the incredible Clu Gallagher, who plays Burt, the owner of Uneeda Medical Supplies. Gallagher’s performance not only adds a fantastic presence to the film, but helped a largely unknown cast step their collective game up. But the real star of this film was, and always will be, The Tar-man!

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Not only is this a dramatic leap forward in Zombie portrayal, as far as make-up effects go, as well as over-all design, but the producers were able to find an Actor who actually had a the body type to wear the suit and make it look convincing. Take a moment to appreciate that. Not only was this person( Allan Trautman), very thin, but incredibly limber and had fantastic muscle control. He manages to pull off staggering, stumbling movements that look as iff the bones themselves will pop out of their loosened joints at any second.  It’s no secret that this film is quite silly, I think we can all agree it makes up a large part of it’s charm, but it is very ahead of it’s time. At the beginning, warehouse worker Frank, acknowledges that “Night Of The Living Dead”(it’s linear predecessor) is a real film, and that it was based off of a “real event” that happened within the universe of ROTLD. This pre-dates the wave of Meta-films we would see later on such as Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and the Scream series. The notion that a film is aware of the existence of a certain film, and opperates outside of that reality, effectively portraying “real-life” is largely lost in this film though. After the initial mentioning of it, it pretty much gets glossed over in favour of Punk Rock, Brain Munching, and tits. Fair Trade.

 

Full Film: http://youtu.be/mO9ZKzF9EmM