Entries Tagged 'Zombies' ↓

Chilling Classics Cthursday: OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (1982)

At the risk of being thrown out of both the Real Horror Fans Gang and the Society of Lesbian Vampire Enjoyers, I must speak my truth: I do not enjoy the films of Jess Franco. Female Vampire almost makes the cut, but to be honest I would rather simply partake in the undeniably striking stills of Lina Romay from that movie than watch it again. I wish I could appreciate Franco's work more. If I had the FrancoVision that his fans seem to have, I would see the art they claim is in his oeuvre, you know, the dream-like atmosphere and all that. Sadly, however, I am saddled with FinalGirlVision, and all that allows me to see is NO.

And so it is with this week's Tale from the Mill Creek 50-Pack Oasis of the Zombies, a film I liked better during that minute or two at the start when I misremembered it as a Bruno Mattei joint. And I'm not even wild about Bruno Mattei joints!

A group of French college students heads to an oasis in the African desert (just "African" will do, natch) in search of Nazi gold that was lost when the Nazis were killed in a battle in 1943. But for some reason the oasis is cursed, I guess, and the dead Nazis return as the living dead to eat anyone who gets too close. 

les students


This exceedingly simple tale is told in exceedingly tedious fashion, as we are treated to interminable flashbacks and shots that are repeated ad nauseam, such as this skull and this spider (yes, that golden blob is a spider). 

Franco's style in Oasis of the Zombies seems to be "point the camera at stuff and maybe the stuff you're pointing the camera at will actually be in the frame...oh and don't forget to do all those zooms, you're Jess Franco!" The overall effect is one somehow completely devoid of atmosphere, and frankly (Francoly?) the entire affair feels inept.

The zombies themselves are typical of the European zombie flicks of the era, although they fall a little more on the papier-mâché side of things as opposed to the more oatmeal-faced undead found in a Fulci film. Most of them have a worm or two wriggling around on 'em, which is a nice touch. There's a regular roster of shambling corpses here, and each gets their moment to shine in a rotating series of repeated close-ups.

This guy was my favorite, for obvious reasons:

These close-ups and the few group shots are reminiscent of Fulci's Zombie (1979); as I am an unabashed freak for that movie, I couldn't help but wonder why Oasis of the Zombies boasted several of the same techniques but left me so cold.

Leaving aside the...mmm, let's call the--the repeated still lifes, the unnecessary zooms--"stylistic choices," Oasis of the Zombies is just a fucking drag. It's poorly paced and plodding, and when it's time for zombie action, it's bereft of any action. The victims go "aahhh" and lie down, maybe they get bitten once or twice while they go "noooo" and pathetically slap at the zombies, and then they are dead. 

If these sad scenes were (un)livened up with some gore, at least there'd be some spectacle. However, we get one gore shot which is almost complete obscured. I get that it was likely a budget issue, but hey, I never said the gore had to be good. But if you're making a sleazy European gut-muncher, I think you should add some gut-munching. And some sleaze. Oasis of the Zombies has neither. But it does have a lot of shots of camels and sand dunes, and as a fan of both they pleased me. Also those shots reminded me of the time The Real Housewives of New York went to Morocco and Countess Luann almost got bucked off an ornery camel; the scene is more Oscar-worthy than Oasis is, that's for sure.  

I will give major props to the climax of the film, wherein night begins to fall and zombies slowly trudge over the dunes towards the students' camp. I'm not sure why the zombies are suddenly so far away from the oasis, but it looks cool and gives us the best shots in the movie, so who cares.

There's a little pizzazz during this final showdown as the students surround themselves with a burning ring of fire and chuck molotovs at the undead. But much of the pizzazz is indiscernible as Franco's camera often centers, like, someone's knee instead of anything worthwhile. Then the sun comes up and any remaining zombies fade into nothingness, which is weird because we've seen them out and about in the daylight before this. Oh well.

While watching Oasis of the Zombies, I felt like that famous time-lapse sequence in The Haunting (1963, duh), where we see Abigail Crane morph from a young lass to a withered crone. Like I could feel that happening to me as the movie played out over the longest 82 minutes of my life. The only difference was that I of course started out as a withered crone and simply became crone-ier.

I would say that there's something good in the story, some potential, if one wants to imagine the adventure-horror-zombie flick that could have been. But that's a bit like saying that a house has "good bones" when everything except the bathroom wallpaper needs to be trashed.

It's always a bummer when a horror movie is a bummer, and so it's a bummer that this week's offering from Mill Creek was a bummer indeed. But hey, you know what they say: We make plans, and the 50-pack laughs. Better luck next time!

Book Review: Valley of the Dead by Kim Paffenroth

Review by Sarah “Fatally Yours” Jahier What if Dante’s Inferno was based on truth? What if in his life Dante faced such insurmountable horror that he wrote it all down but had to pass it off as fiction because it was just too unbelievable? Well, that is the premise behind Kim Paffenroth’s new novel, Valley of the [...]

Hellgate (1989)

Review by Sarah “Fatally Yours” Jahier Hellgate has got to be one of the worst, all-over-the-place horror films I’ve ever seen! From the weird gags to groan-worthy jokes to the silly ghost/zombie/ghost town/magical crystals/revenge storylines that crisscross the mess of the movie, I was shaking my head is disbelief most of its running time. However, though [...]

Tortured (aka Sex Slave) (2008)

Review by The Fiend of Grue Tortured (aka Sex Slave) is a film from UK filmmaker Jason Impey who wrote, produced, edited and directed this short film. The movie begins by showing two men arguing over the spot they have chosen to bury the body of a woman they have killed. Soon, the arguing turns to [...]

Jill’s Story: An Online Zombie Story

I was chatting with my friend, Lisa Conger, on Twitter, and she mentioned that chapter 8 was finished. Jill’s Story is a work in progress, and while Lisa claims to be jotting down zombie “daydreams,” I see a potential for a fantastic novella. At first, I was just going to tweet the link (http://tiny.cc/JillsZombieStory) but then I decided to write [...]

The worst places to go when zombies attack.

Okay, zombiephiles – Here’s my list (in no particular order) of the worst places to go when the zombies come lookin’ for an unhappy meal. Hiding in a loft/attic – there is often only one way in and out, so you are pretty much trapped. Shopping centers/malls – this was a popular attraction before the living became the undead, so its only [...]

My Two Moans: Zombie Sex!

Yes… one day when the time comes we will be involved in zombie sex one way or another. Below are two hypothetical ways we may wind up involved in zombie sex: You are a zombie and you want to make sweet passionate love to another zombie, or maybe even an uninfected person. One problem with this obviously would be the mechanics. What [...]

Survival of the Dead (2010)

Review by Chris Jacques **There might be a spoiler or two…not plot points or twists, necessarily, but spoilers** It’s been a few months now that I’ve been seeing previews for George Romero’s latest installment in the “Dead” saga, Survival of the Dead. Those few months hadn’t left me very interested in the film at all; unlike days [...]

After Dark Horrorfest 4 – All 8 Films to Die For Reviewed (2010)

Written by Sarah “Fatally Yours” Jahier I finally got around to checking out all of After Dark Horrorfest’s “8 Films to Die For” since they were only in theaters for two seconds! I don’t feel like writing a lengthy review for each film, so I’m going to do a quickie review of each and list them from [...]

awesome movie poster friday – the FULCI edition PART 2!

The first Fulci AMPF can be found here. Mmm...Fulci.

Zombies + Freemasons = Awesome (UPDATED!)

Hardcore Zombiephiles are almost a fraternal brotherhood (and sisterhood) unto themselves; although we might not have a secret handshake, community outreach programs, or, in fact, any organization whatsoever, we nonetheless unite around the common axis of zombie survival, engaging in often impassioned debate about the future of our society and our planet. But zombiephiles aren’t the only fraternal organizations out there [...]

wednesday comix: Q & A with Zane Grant, writer of WE WILL BURY YOU

Remember last week, when I reviewed We Will Bury You #1? And then that night on The Scare-ening, Heidi and I talked with Brea Grant, one of the book's writers? And then Zane Austin Grant, the other writer on the book, was a surprise call-in guest? And they were cool? Remember all that? Wasn't it cool? Well, it gets even cooler because Zane went and answered some questions. Questions from ME! Do you think I'm cool??

One thing I love about both Brea and Zane is that they're actually, you know, horror fans. Talking with them obliterates any doubts you may have about their motivation behind writing We Will Bury You, about whether or not it's simply a vanity project for some actress. I mean...who knew The Driller Killer could provide such fodder for discourse?

I'm an only child, but from my understanding, brothers and sisters are supposed to hate each other and pull each others' hair. Why, then, would you want to write a comic book with your sister? How did the idea of working together come about?

We both like comics and horror movies, and we get along really well, so…. I’m always surprised when people ask about sibling rivalry. I think we compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses well while working together.

Practically speaking, how did you share scripting duties (ie, did you divide up the characters, etc)?

The way we work is we read a lot about our setting and make notes for stories. Then we get together and outline them, so we knew basically what’s going to happen, but not necessarily how it was going to play out. From there, we just traded off scenes, which I think works for the most part. Can you tell what I wrote and what she wrote? I can’t, because we edited each other so much to keep the tone consistent. Brea wrote all the nasty parts while I looked away and covered my ears, and I did the moralizing parts, so that’s breaks down writing duties into solid categories.

Why is We Will Bury You set in the 1920s?

The 1920’s was the first decade of sexual revolution in the U.S. and a lot of different political ideas were being discussed leading up the great depression, which snuffed a lot of those kinds of things out because suddenly more people were just trying to survive. The lack of certain technologies like cell phones and future weapons makes the spread of mass violence scarier as well. Plus, it just had a good aesthetic that works out well as a setting for a visual medium like comics. We wanted to take the magic of pre-code movies and add it to the outcasts of Tod Browning’s films and make it relevant and entertaining.

What are some of your influences for WWBY, both in terms of horror (whether written, cinematic, or other) and comics?

We try to have a lot of reveals in the books, which were inspired by the surprise endings of EC horror comics. And the shallowness of some of the people Mirah and Fanya run into sort of match the EC tone, where people react almost too normally but they are all hiding something. Also, there is a way in which, we are also reacting to Walking Dead, which pushed the genre in a way by showing horror comics can be ongoing and still have some attachment to the traditional horror genre. I mean Swamp Thing is one of my favorite comics, and it’s horror in a way (he fights mermaid vampires, right?), but it seems like an uncomfortable fit for the genre. A lot of Vertigo horror stuff is like that, especially from the 1990’s, where it’s scary and amazing, but the tone is more psychedelic than horrific, which we eventually delve into. We were inspired, of course, by Romero, but there are other pieces we pull from like Wild Zero (which has a trans person), the Greek zombie film Evil, 28 Days Later, and in the first issue we played with the slasher view from the first page. We give you the view from the husband of this woman he is obsessed with and she is dressing, and he’s nuts.

How did you come across Kyle Strahm's work, and what is it about his art that attracted you? Was there a specific style you wanted when you were looking for an artist, or did it strike you when you found it?

We looked a lot of artists, and Kyle’s portfolio stood out because it was cartoony but had the grotesque feel of too many wrinkles to it, which is how we wanted to write this book. We did some color tests with Zac Atkins, the colorist on the book, on Kyle’s work and really liked the way it looked.

How are you working with Kyle in terms of the script? Are you giving him detailed panel descriptions à la Alan Moore, or are you using the "Marvel method", or something in-between?

We don’t write poetry in our scripts, though we hope to some day. I’m not sure if you can get away with doing that your first book, the artist might quit. We tend to stick to basic descriptions, dialog, and reference pictures for some things. When Kyle wants more, he asks. Like we were bad about military uniform research and what revolvers officers were issued, so he just asked and we did some research and got back to him.

Why do you think comics are the best medium to use in telling this story?

Comics is the best medium to tell any story…. Heh…. But also, I think horror works best as a visual medium, or maybe easiest as a visual medium is more accurate. People have a stronger reaction to seeing pain than reading about it. I do anyway.

In the better zombie films, zombies are usually representative of a societal issue or a certain populace. I have my own thoughts on what they represent in WWBY...did you intend for them to be metaphorical, or did you just choose zombies for your bad guys?

On societal issues and horror, I had an argument with my friend Carrie, who does tryharderyall blog, about Driller Killer a while back because on your blog, you gave it a kind of class analysis, which is my default to reading pretty much everything except that movie. I think Abel Ferrara drills strangers because he is sexually repressed and the gay art dealer and the freaky girlfriend and ambiguous art band singer throw that repression in his face and he can’t deal, and she agreed with your analysis… in the end I saw the film as doing both. Anyway, I think Romero’s films tore apart race and class and gender in nuanced ways that we aspire to, but we use our zombies as heavy handed metaphor for fundamentalist views about economic and cultural values.

How much backstory/history is there going to be for the outbreak in WWBY? Do you think it's important for writers and/or filmmakers to give a reason why the dead return to life?

In the beginning, We Will Bury You was set up as three volumes and the third would have a metaphysical explanation of the gates of hell and how they had to be closed, but no one gets a contract for 36 issues on their first book, so that didn’t happen. Really, I’m of the opinion that it’s not that important why the dead come back. When people try to rationalize zombies, I usually get bored. Whether they explain it through the occult, like Fulci’s hanging priest or Louisiana hotel with a gate to hell installed in the basement, or nuclear waste like in Return of the Living Dead, it just takes away from the fact that most people would never know why, but just have to come up with a way to live.

Are your zombies slow or fast? On which side of the fast/slow zombie horror nerd argument do your loyalties lie?

Fast zombies are scary and have made slow zombies harder to make scary, which is sad. Our zombies are about mass, so they are slow. I’m scared of those rooms in mansions that have walls that close in on you, sometimes with spikes. I want to find the architect who designed those rooms, but that’s a different story. Our zombies are scary like those rooms.

When I think of spiked rooms, I think of Resident Evil. Actually, when I think of ANYTHING I think of Resident Evil. I love Resident Evil.

Talk a bit about being a comics fan and a horror fan. How did you get into each, what are some of your favorites, etc. What do you consider to be the best horror comic of today? Of all time? What's your favorite zombie movie?

I got into comics when I was a kid, but I was scared of horror comics when I was that young. Now, I am a fan of the old EC stuff like Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror, but I think the best contemporary horror comics are Locke and Key, Creepy, Walking Dead, Hellblazer, Night Business and pretty much any horror books Ben Templesmith does. Brea actually got into horror films before me, so I would watch stuff she rented sometimes. We had seen all the major stuff like the Elm Streets and 13ths and that stuff, and then about five years ago my friend Orion moved in with me and brought his horror VHS collection, which is in the hundreds. So, I got to know the genre a bit better through that, got to see more Italian stuff, and now my friend Carrie has a pretty good collection of VHS horror, some really good/bad Media stuff. My favorite zombie movie is the original Dawn.

Are you hitting any conventions this summer? Any more comics in your future?

I will be at MoCCA fest in New York April 10th and 11th, San Diego Comicon this summer, and Small Press Expo in D.C./Maryland in September. I hope to do some more cons, and we will probably be in Austin and have a release for the second issue of We Will Bury You the last week in April. I have an article about comics creator Dash Shaw coming out in Looking Glass Magazine this month. I’m teaching a comics writing course to teens at Brooklyn Artists Gym, and Brea and I are working on another series we hope gets picked up… and I want to do a comic version of Driller Killer.

Zombie Easter Cards!

Think that zombies don’t love Easter? You’re wrong. Un-dead wrong. Check out these wicked cool Zombie Easter cards, available on Etsy.com! Remember, Easter’s right around the corner, so order them fast!

Zombies Are Getting More Complicated

A few years ago, I read a zombie book titled Dying to Live: A Novel of Life Among the UndeadDying to Live: A Novel of Life Among the Undead by Kim Paffenroth. The story is about a man who finds a survival group at a museum, and all the horrible things (by horrible, I mean the kind of shit that [...]

Zombie Preparation for the UK

Show me a zombie fan, and I’ll show you someone who has read The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. Anyone who has read the ZSG can tell you how detailed and thorough it is – Max obviously did some serious research before he wrote it. Or did he? Sure, the book has a zombie timeline in the back, which includes [...]