A Horror Classic. Day of the Dead (1985) Review

Happy Halloween everyone!

Since entering Uni trying to stay active on Duffhood and YouTube has been a struggle. I was hoping to get more horror reviews done but of course I had other commitments.

I only reviewed 28 Days Later and Crimson Peak so I spent some time pondering on which film I’d do for the end of the season.

After some consideration I knew it would have to be one of my personal favourites. So, while it might not be a favourite for most people, I thought I’d cover Day of the Dead.

This holds a special place in my heart
This holds a special place in my heart

Popular opinion has labelled this film as the weakest of George A. Romero’s ‘Dead’ trilogy. Its not perfect but it certainly doesn’t deserve all the slander its received.

The war with the dead has been fought and lost. In an underground base a group of scientists and soldiers try to find a way to stop the dead walking. There’s an increasing tension within the group as Rhodes, a psychopathic military captain, abuses the scientists for not making progress.

One of the scientists, often referred to as ‘Frankenstein’, thinks he’s found a solution. Working with ‘Bub’, a tame zombie who shows some signs of humanity, he thinks the zombies can be taught to be civilised.

0000220097

Rhodes however does not agree. This then leads to a cut-throat conflict between the scientists and soldiers which is suddenly disrupted when the dead swarm the complex.

Being the third in the trilogy Day makes a rather pessimistic conclusion. Accepting humanity’s mortality seems to be the main theme running through the three films.

The protagonist, Sarah, is trying everything to stop the dead rising at the beginning. By the end she’s given up and gotten away from the problem, she’s focused on spending the rest of her days happily.

Thematically, Day says we will face certain death and the worst thing to do is try to stop it.

Structurally the film moves at a pretty good pace. Most of it consists of dialogue scenes and while there’re a few lines that could’ve been cut and I can understand why some people might’ve been a little bored watching this, its still compelling and intense.

The characters are a bit generic. Rhodes and the soldiers are enjoyably vicious and silly, some of the other characters however are rather stereotypical.

John for example, despite his charming personality and memorable lines, is a stereotypical Jamaican.

One of Day’s significant strengths is its depiction of a women, a quality that Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead was lacking.

Of course the film isn’t a feminist masterpiece but unlike Barbara and Francine, Sarah isn’t a brainless scream queen. She comes across as a very capable individual trying to solve a serious problem in an intense environment.

963a761f150145e2aa57a88922123e26

One last thing I have to mention is the zombies and gore. If you think the film’s boring I urge you to watch till the end. I won’t go into any details but it has one of the goriest, most intense climaxes in zombie cinema.

Despite its flaws in characterisation and pace, Day of the Dead is a great conclusion to a fine horror trilogy and is unjustifiably underrated.

Day of the Dead earns an outstanding 8 out of 10.

Advertisements

Better than Pacific Rim? Crimson Peak (2015) Review

Having seen nearly all of his films, I’ve been interested in the works of Guillermo Del Toro for quite some time now. So I was very excited to finally see his latest film in a cinema.

I really liked this.
I really liked this.

Avoiding spoilers Crimson Peak takes place in the late 19th Century where Edith (Mia Wasikowska), the daughter of a successful businessmen, marries Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and settles down in his old decaying English mansion with his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain).

After seeing numerous spirits throughout the house, Edith investigates the history of the building and tries to find what’s behind her husband and sister in law’s suspicious behaviour.

What she’ll discover is more twisted and real than any ghost story.

CrimsonPeak_1

Since its set in the late 19th century Crimson Peak is partly a costume drama which I was a bit worried about due to the little interest I have in the genre.

However, despite the period dialogue the script clearly shows the characters’ desires and weaknesses which makes them very empathetic.

For example, in one scene we see Thomas Sharpe trying to convince Edith’s father (Jim Beaver) to invest in his clay mining invention. Her father rejects him, viciously criticising his privileged background.

From his meeting with Edith and the clear enthusiasm he shows in his pitch, we understand that Sharpe is a kind and passionate personality so we immediately feel for him when he gets turned down.

Crimson is full of moments like this which I wasn’t expecting in a period drama.

crimson-peak-tom-hiddleston-3-1500x844

I know this may be an unpopular opinion but I think Crimson Peak is better than Pacific Rim.

Don’t get me wrong, the film had a beautifully constructed world but it spent a lot of time with the characters who, in my view, weren’t really interesting.

With a compelling mystery plot and good characters, Peak is also a pretty good horror film.

The ghosts, resembling skinned bodies, are terrifying. The suspense anticipating the ghosts’ appearing, is unnerving.

This is definitely one of Del Toro’s best films. If there had to be a list I’d put Crimson at number four, with Hellboy 2 at three, Devil’s Backbone at two and, of course, Pan’s Labyrinth at number one.

Crimson Peak earns a brilliant 9 out of 10.

Overrated? 28 Days Later (2002) Review

I had to review at least one horror film for the run-up to Halloween!

With a brilliant first act, a decent second and a disastrous third, 28 Days Later, directed by Danny Boyle, is a good mature horror film with empathetic characters and an unnerving depiction of a zombie apocalypse.

DSC00861
That third act….

Waking up in hospital Jim, (Cillian Murphy) discovers that Britain and presumably most of the world’s populace has been infected by a ‘rage’ virus, turning them into zombies.

After getting attacked by some of the infected he finds Seleena (Naomie Harris), another survivor. While wondering the streets of London they find Frank (Brenden Gleeson) and his teenage daughter Hannah (Megan Burns).

When Frank plays them a radio broadcast from a military base in Manchester, the group decide to trace its source and journey through infected England.

While Jim may come across as a basic ‘every man’ character we see through his dialogue with Seleena and particularly when he visits the house of his dead parents, that Jim is compassionate and is willing to protect those he loves.

Of course these are values most people have but in the film’s hostile environment, where you have to fight to survive you feel worried for Jim as he struggles to support those values while he argues with Seleena.620x400x28-days-later_ZsuZdf_jpg_pagespeed_ic_Mky9Jikmk0

She believes that trying to protect loved ones only slows you down and will get you killed.

As the film progresses and the characters get to know and like one another, Seleena experiences the purpose behind those values and begins to let go of her hierarchal viewpoint.

This would’ve been a fantastic end to 28 Days Later but unfortunately it occurs half way through the second act.

The film’s climax takes place at the military base in Manchester where it is revealed the soldiers want to keep Seleena and Hannah as sex slaves to repopulate the country.

What 28 Days is trying to do thematically at this point I have no idea.

Jim tries to get out with the girls but is captured and taken out to be shot.

He then escapes his executioners and, after breaking into the mansion and releasing an imprisoned zombie onto the troops, successfully flees with Seleena and Hannah.

Swiggity swooty I'm comin' for the booty
Swiggity swooty I’m comin’ for the booty

I thought that maybe Jim sabotaging the base and rescuing the girls might’ve suggested that he’d adapted to the hierarchal world Seleena believed in and learned to fight for himself.

But why at a military base? Why couldn’t Jim learn that on the journey with Seleena? There he could’ve seen why its important to let go of emotions and fight to survive. Doing it at a military base after Seleena had abandoned those beliefs just seems hypocritical and farfetched.

Overall despite its excellent first act, great cinematography and good performances (apart from Megan Burns, Hannah is a robot. Seriously. She can’t act) 28 Days Later should be remembered for its unique contribution to the zombie genre in terms of ideas.

Apart from that it’s a great film that dies at the end.

28 Days Later gets a mediocre 5 out of 10.

WORST STORY EVER?! Doctor Who The Space Museum Revew

The Space Museum, the seventh story in the second season of Doctor Who, is considered by many to be one of the worst stories ever.

Meh.
Meh.

Having watched it I can certainly say its boring and unoriginal but I wouldn’t say its as harmful or frustrating as stories like Warriors Of The Deep and Fear Her.

The first Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki land on the planet Xeros, where they discover huge museum displaying creatures and spaceships from all over the galaxy. They suddenly find their future selves standing in glass cases as exhibits in the museum.

The thing that makes The Space Museum stand out from other stories in the Hartnell era is the way it incorporates time travel into the drama.

The crew is shocked when they see themselves on display. Throughout the episode they try to prevent their future from happening, getting more and more anxious as they struggle.

Its impressive seeing how desperate and worried the characters get and its not because of a monster or an army of aliens but time.

Unfortunately this plays out as a minor subplot beside a really boring main plot. Its basically the old ‘rebels rise up against oppressors’ narrative, a story that had been done dozens of times before, most famously in The Daleks.

 doctorspacemusuem

The museum is run by an imperial race known as the Moroks, they invaded the planet and built the museum as a monument of their empire’s achievements (I won’t lie, that back story is quite interesting).

Meanwhile the Xerons, the natives of the planet, hide in the building and try to get some weapons to start a revolution.

As you’d guess the plot is predictable and the poor production value doesn’t help.

The sets look pretty good at first but get boring as you see them again and again, the Moroks are just middle-aged men in white suits and the Xerons look like the Beatles with caterpillars stuck on their eyebrows.

However the use of time travel as a force of antagonism would be used in countless stories following The Space Museum. Despite its flaws the story was unique enough to have an everlasting influence, it deserves a lot of credit for that.

For a top ten list of worst Doctor Who episodes I’d put The Space Museum at number seven. Its bad but it has value.

The Space Museum earns a mediocre 3 out of 10.