Horrorfest 2019 Presents: One Cut of the Dead (2017, Shinichirou Ueda)


Every once in a while there comes along a movie that is equal parts clever and unique. Sometimes that is rarer in the horror genre, but when you encounter that type of movie you feel the need to celebrate it, particularly when the movie is both fun and delightful as well. The current gem I discovered while going through Shudder recommendations was the 2017 cult film One Cut of the Dead, a marvelous zombie movie that everyone should watch and enjoy. I thought it was funny, at times rather creepy, and a tribute to the efforts of low budget cinema.

Without giving away too much I will say that I also liked the entire cast, particularly Takayuki Hamatsu as the way over energetic director and Harumi Shuhama as the film’s main actress, who takes things a bit too far. The special effects reflect such B-movie classics as George A. Romero’s Dead films and the work of Lucio Fulci as well, and I was left pleasantly surprised by what happens later on in the movie. One Cut of the Dead is an example of a great foreign horror movie, and also reminds me that every time I think I have seen it all with horror films, something new comes along and inspires me to continue with the genre.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Wyrmwood (2014, Kiah Roache-Turner)


Every time I think zombie films have run their course, that I am tired of my favorite horror sub genre, someone goes along and makes one that restores my interest. Wyrmwood (also known as “Road of the Dead”) is a ridiculous, gory, visceral horror experience that covers a zombie outbreak caused by, well, no one is quite sure, although the air is hinted at as being the cause. I don’t really care how zombies happen, all that matters is that the zombie film have engaging characters and be at least entertaining. Kiah Roache-Turner’s film checks all of those boxes and offers more than I expected, which is a nice bonus. Poor Barry has a bad weekend in the Austrian Outback, and things spiral from there, as he is forced to band together with others to survive a zombie attack.

One thing I really dug about this film is the zombie killing violence, which is heavy throughout the entire movie. Roache-Turner decides to make a fairly simple and energetic horror film, and it shows throughout. I really liked the character of Benny, who has plenty of wisecracks and a fairly wiry take on the entire situation. Oh and don’t forget the mad scientist elements, which reminded me of Day of the Dead (1985). Plus hey zombie blood is flammable, so you can use it for fuel. Finally they’re useful! I cannot reveal more about this film without compromising the last, intense final act, yet I will not forget what I have seen anytime soon. I like to call this movie a great cousin of the Evil Dead series, and I wonder what Roache-Tuner will do next for an encore.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Nightmare City (1980, Umberto Lenzi)


Several parts of Nightmare City reminded me of other, more well known zombie films. There is a gloriously creepy shot of zombies running through a field that recalls both 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, plus the fact that the film’s climax occurs in an amusement park just like Zombieland. Despite being a low budget Italian-Spanish film I rather liked Umberto Lenzi’s apocalyptic horror film, which he preferred to think of as being a mediation upon the horrors and negative effects of radiation instead of it being a zombie film.

Regardless of his opinion this movie works as a zombie/creature feature movie, and has some really good creepy and suspenseful moments. I don’t recall the foreign country this film is set in however the response to the menace recalls classic government action protocol: alert the military, attempt to quarantine and then deal with the creatures through shooting. I’m always fascinated how in apocalyptic movies the military ends up taking over and gains free reign, suggesting that when society crumbles mankind gives into an authoritarian and brutal response.

Also the creatures here despite being zombies are rather smart and use weapons, plus they move fast-two things that would pop up in later day zombie films as well. So I wonder how many horror filmmakers saw this movie and thought some of its ideas would be good to homage in their films.

Hugo Stiglitz plays the central protagonist and if that name sounds familiar then it should: it was used as a character’s name in Inglourious Basterds. Despite its low reputation I rather enjoyed this movie and found it to be an engaging and freaky anti-war, anti-zombie and anti-radiation horror film that has some well crafted moments. Also I smiled at the ending, which contains a moment that would be at home in a Twilight Zone episode. As I seek out more older cult films I am discovering certain unknown gems that I have not heard of before, and I thank Netflix and the Internet for enabling me to watch these so called “Lost” films. Also I’m something of a gore hound these days and therefore am more prone to enjoying zombie movies, which might be my favorite horror sub-genre at this point.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972, Bob Clark)


Now that is a film title. I saw the trailer for this movie on YouTube and I knew I had to watch this movie. And despite being a low-budget movie with the limitations that such films have it’s a really good movie. One that fits in well with other 70s zombie films, containing that sense of doom and being gory and creepy at the same time. Plus it offers a running commentary on show business that is still relevant today.

Alan is an outlandish and semi sadistic film director who attempts a joke that ends up resulting in a cruel punchline. He drags his film making cast and crew to island full of secrets. Naturally the dead come into play and the film by the end embodies its title. Bob Clark was a master of different film styles and with “Children” he gives us an early look into his horror style before making the classic Black Christmas.

This film differs from that one: “Children” contains bleak humor and is at times funny in a wonderfully awful way. There is a weird sense of atmosphere that I really liked and the ending is well…something. Oh and it happens to be rather creepy and quite eerie, although the island location really helps. I miss these kind of horror movies-B films that had a kind of class and energy to them. Too many horror movies lack that nowadays.

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