Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Sometimes you just magically pick the right film for the right mood. Today I was feeling kinda down and depressed, it just so happens that 7th Day; the horror film I chose to watch for review is a bleak, miserable tale about the futility of life, so a great choice.
Allen the narrator of 7th Day is a pervert, a weirdo, and a serial killer of quite epic proportions. He works washing dishes at a crummy diner where he obsesses over Denise; the girl of his dreams who he doesn't realise cannot stand him. In the evenings he hunts his targets, usually women but sometimes men too, he thinks by killing them he makes them aware that they are alive for the first time in their sad lives. As the title clued us into the film takes place over seven days, seven days in which Allen begins to loose what little grasp on reality he has left, to become more and more frequent in his dealings with death as he tries to work out what his real love is; Denise, or his beloved murders.
A very bleak, miserable film in which there are no good guys. Starting off it is almost funny, a thick line of dark humour as Allen; a complete mess of a human narrates how he is a fun guy, good at his job, well liked all the while the camera showing us his opinion of himself is so different to the reality. This continues for the whole film with him talking about how people are a waste of space and they don't deserve to live when he himself is the biggest example of his theory but is too self deluded to realise that.
There is a lot of blood and gore here, it all looks suitably stomach churning as well, felt quite queasy at times, chopping off fingers, writhing around in someones intestines, or trying to cut the spine out of a still living victim, pretty darn nasty stuff, but the world the film takes place in is a nasty place. The diner Allen works at is filthy, the people he interacts with all horrid people such as his bullying drug dealer, perverted next door neighbour and his co workers who hate him. Allen has body parts strewn around his house and wears the dirtiest clothes. rancid vests and pants covered in giant skid marks but he fits into the films setting that has an unclean feel to it, just a hellish existence.
I quite liked the directing, not the kinetic series of jump shots and wobbly views expected but more stable, measured shots, especially during the violent scenes. It is the soundtrack that really amplifies the whole film though with a truly messed up collection of white noise and distorted tunes that just saps your energy as your forced to watch and listen to Allen's thoughts. I love the fact that he hallucinates a monstrous reporter to make sense for the constant narration, and it is constant. He is practising for when he is caught as he believes the fame from the news (of which he is obsessed) is far more than other means.
The true question comes of just what is actually happening, with the amount of murders he does it is hard to believe he hasn't been caught which leads you to wonder if it isn't just all in his head, he is seen talking to a dead woman in his TV, as well as the monster reporter, and his dependency on drugs and alcohol as he tries to get the will to kill himself. It is never explicitly revealed if everything is all in his head which I appreciated. A film like 7th Day is very hard to review, it is so odd and out on it's own and uncomfortable viewing that it can never be called fun to watch. Some of Allen's musing head into student level blathering but some good points about the media and modern day society at least get mentioned.
The film is well made, and mostly good acting but can be tough to watch with such an unlikeable, ruined lead and scenes of bloody violence (kinda reminded me of Rob Zombie's style at times), something different at the very least, and really has a style that is perfect for the subject matter.
Monday, 2 December 2013
Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate is set after the events of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and before the events of Lords of Shadow 2. This has recently been HD'd up and released on Playstation 3 and X-Box 360, but it is the 3DS version I played and so will mention the 3D. Some mild plot spoilers to follow.
The game is split into 4 sections, each section with a different character and set in a different part of the time line. The prologue sees you as Gabriel Belmont and is set before the events of the first game on a quest to defeat a demon. The meat of the game is the remaining 3 characters. First you are Simon Belmont who has arrived at Dracula's castle to get revenge for the murder of his mother and father by the dark lord. The middle section has you playing as Alucard; half vampire who awakens in the castle with no memory of who he once was and sets out to confront Dracula, aiding Simon as he goes. The final section has you playing as Trevor Belmont (Simon's dad) who heads to the castle when Simon is a child. He hopes the powers of light and darkness will aid him in his mission to finally defeat Dracula.
While the reboot of the Castlevania franchise reinvented it as a God of War style game Mirror of Fates returns the series to it's side scrolling 2D roots. It seems like the Metroidvania games of old; giant levels that let you backtrack to open new areas when you gain new abilities. It certainly looks great, the castle setting giving great depth to the 3D, yet Mirrrors of Fate suffers a lot though unexciting level design.
You gain XP and level up yet this does not really benefit you much other than new moves. It is true you can backtrack to open new areas but these are universally boring, boring being something this game really excels at. The castle has many hidden items, or they would be hidden if a giant question mark didn't appear on the map to let you know where they are. Scrolls give you information in your bestiary. The bestiary is not very exciting as it is pretty much just descriptions of the attacks enemies do. Fallen soldiers of the order are all over the game, these have magical scrolls that give you insight into their last thoughts. Many of these are just used to give you hints on how to proceed, the ones which are not are just dull as dishwater to read for the most part. The final hidden items are chests that increase your ammo count, magic and health. Backtracking in previous games was fun, here it is just not interesting.
Fights against enemies are far more infrequent. The game only ever throws 2 or 3 monsters at you at once at best and all take a while to kill, usually you will get trapped in a room until the enemies are all dead. QTE events pop up in annoying places. The 3DS has stupidly mapped buttons and so I nearly always pressed the wrong command during the QTE events and had to retry sections initially exciting many times making them a chore. Bosses in theory are fun to fight but monster design is not particularly inspiring and they take too long to battle.
I love the Castlevania series yet Mirrors of Fate took me many months to complete as my boredom kept preventing me from playing. The plot should be interesting, it isn't. Cutscenes while pretty have nothing happen in them, knowing Dracula is the main character of Lords of Shadow 2 meant that I knew he would not be defeated here, so that felt off. The one good thing was the fact the game takes place at different times, though confusing that the last section takes place before the first two, I actually struggle to remember what happened at the end of the game chronologically. The music is not the greatness of old, but Lords of Shadow; all orchestral and epic and sounds great for a 3DS game, but not interesting either.
There is a lot of inventiveness to the game, so it is frustrating how bland it all feels, could have been so much better. Springing to mind; an ambush by possessed mannequins at a theatre, a descent through a clock tower as you attempt to out run a falling giant bell, a running battle against a giant worm. All sound exciting on paper but in theory just feel off.
Mirrors of Fate should have been so much better, but this is just a poor copy of the Metroidvania format, everything is ticked off; monster types, locations, RPG elements, and iconic characters, but is all designed so work man like that it just seems to have no soul to it, in total despite it's attractive design of the castle location this is just distinctly average.
Sacred Citadel is a scrolling beat em up set in a fantasy land. You play as either a barbarian, archer, shaman, or mage fighting your way through 4 stages made up of around 6 levels each. What I didn't know until researching this is that Sacred Citadel is actually a prequel to Sacred 3, the Sacred series being RPG's.
The plot is standard fare, basically an evil being known as the Gatebreaker (something like that) requires two talismans to be able to get the power to attack a sacred Citadel were the protectors of good reside. It starts with the town your hero is drinking in coming under attack by a goblin army who have been hired to locate the talismans. During the adventure your character is tricked into locating the talismans him/herself and then betrayed leading you on a quest of revenge.
The best thing Sacred Citadel does is the variety it brings into it's levels. Each level has at least one kind of unique environmental device to it to spice things up and avoid too much repetition that can come from scrolling brawlers. So there are traps that can be triggered to take out enemies, pools of acid, vehicle sections where you can control a giant monster, or an armoured truck, and plenty of simple but fun jumps to do. Levels are based on fantasy tropes so you get castles, lava, ruins, goblin camps etc. Boss encounters are frequent but not all levels have them, and they are placed well, not always just plonked at the end of a level. Some quite epic ones, such as a large dragon on top of a giant tower but a lot of the time they are either larger versions of normal enemies, or once defeated then start appearing as normal enemies in subsequent stages.
There are a lot of enemy types that is good to see, each of the four acts have many different monsters to fight, a lot specific just to the levels you are in. Wolf type creatures in the forest, zombie ghost pirates by the lakes, and various other types. While some appear later reskinned and made tougher, for the most part new monsters keep getting introduced which I really appreciated. I also like how the game never runs out of ideas for how to introduce these. During a temple sequence cult members about to make a human sacrifice in the background leap into the game to fight you for example, while coming across a load of dead enemies I was surprised when a necromancer appeared and resurrected them for you to battle.
Combat is simple but fun enough, you have access to normal and powerful attacks while special moves can be used when your bar has filled up. Enemies drop lots of gold, and occasionally new weapons and armour to equip. XP levels you up that lets you put skill points into attack power, defence, special abilities, or critical hits. A lot of the time I did find it just a case of bunching the enemies up into a corner and then just pounding on them all until they died.
The music has a Golden Axe vibe to it but is just not varied enough, it seemed to me by the games end that pretty much the same tune had been used for the entire thing, it did get a bit repetitive, and the dub step on the title screen was funny but totally out of place in a fantasy game! Each stage has it's own town to visit to shop in, but these places are pretty boring to go through. I imagine in multiplayer this would be fun, but I had no trouble at all finishing this on my own, never died once thanks to food downed monsters drop, as well as a plentiful supply of health potions. The plot is also pretty dull, some nice voice work but still not interesting to watch.
I had fun playing this, the cartoon art style was pleasing and made things look different. Not bad but not ground breaking, still I could see myself playing this again one day, maybe next time will do it with a friend.
I used to constantly have zombie dreams many years ago, but now they are few and far between. Thankfully my dream space was graced with another one last night. What follows is my hazy recollection of just what it was all about...
I was in an open world Resident Evil game, as in I was actually in it, not playing it. I was on some moorlands at night searching for parts of a lighter to fix together. In the distance I see a horde of zombies heading towards an old castle and some humans following them. I locate a good few weapons including a knife that I put in my boot. I meet up with some other survivors and we head to a building complex, there is something important in one of the rooms but a bunch of zombies show up, I get separated from everyone who escape via a different exit to me. I try and get back in the room to get the important item but there are too many zombies, I kill a few with my knife before barricading them in the room.
Heading to the courtyard of the old castle I saw earlier I see the load of zombies who had headed there had transformed into a gigantic boss style monster, it is defeated and the humans fighting it gone by the time I arrive...then I awoke.
Obviously got videogames on the brain is the only meaning I took from that, that and seeming to go it alone a lot of the time, still a zombie dream is a zombie dream, cannot complain.
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
When I first heard of this game a few months back I assumed from the title it was a hot new indie gem, but no! It is instead a 90's point and click adventure game based on the story of the same title written by Harlan Ellison in 1967. I love 90's point and click adventure games so was both delighted and surprised one had escaped my undead grasp...until now.
A global war waged, carried out by super computers designed for the task. One such super computer became self aware, naming itself AM and wiped out all of humanity due to the intense hatred it feels for it's creators. It saved the last 5 humans and keeps them trapped far down below inside the Earth. There it has tortured them endlessly for the last 109 years, making sure they can never die. AM is an angry machine, driven insane by the fact that it is the most intelligent thing in existence, yet it has nothing to do with it's vast intellect, trapped for eternity in it's own shell. AM sets a task for each of it's 5 captives, promising reward for completing the tasks, something it has probably done many times before, yet this time something is different, one by one the prisoners manage to overcome their flaws and succeed where AM computed that as impossible. Someone or something seems to be aiding the humans...
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream works fantastically as a point and click game. Each of the 5 characters have their own little adventure to play through, these can be done in any order. Nimdok; an old Nazi Dr finds himself in a concentration camp in the end days of World War II. Benny who used to be a brutal soldier finds himself in a strange primitive village where the inhabitants are forced to regularly make human sacrifices to AM. Ellen finds herself in an artificially created Egyptian pyramid where she discovers just why she is terrified of the colour yellow. Depressed Gorrister awakens to find himself heartless, on a blimp flying over endless desert. Lastly (or firstly, as I said, any order) Ted a confidence trickster finds himself in a medieval castle where a witch plans to sacrifice his one true love to demons.
Like the best adventure games you select various icons from a menu to do different actions (such as Use, Talk To, Look At etc). You explore the environments talking to other characters, and picking up items in order to solve various puzzles. Adventure games went away originally because the puzzles just got more and more obscure. Scream over comes this with an ever present hint option that gives you a cryptic clue on what to do next. It is quite clever in how it is written relevant to the character giving words that have double meanings.
Scream deals with some serious issues that I really was not expecting. A Nazi concentration camp is just the tip of the iceberg, though a big tip (what with you performing a cruel experiment on a child as part of Nimdok's story). Other issues that pop up include good old murder along with cannibalism, suicide, mental health, sex, and rape. Rape in particular was a big shock as there was such an interesting way it came to be explored in the game. Each chapter has a character deal with their past and is stand alone. These concise chapters not only stop you from becoming too lost, but also gives you plenty of variety, some better than others. For sheer enjoyment I would rate Ellen's as the best chapter, Gorrister's as the worst due to it's often illogical puzzles.
You can die, or otherwise fail a mission something which I am not keen of in point and clicks, this seems to have most effect on Benny's story as it is time specific so I found myself having to try and do that one 4 or 5 times before I worked it all out. Also you can complete the missions in different ways which effects the games ending. Each character has a kind of morality meter which changes depending on your actions. One mission for example sees you needing to get a heart. You can achieve this by stabbing to death one of the people you encounter and tearing out their heart. The good way sees you getting the heart from a corpse of a pig, so quite a difference. The final mission that takes place after all others was not very good. Adventure games tend to have a hard time coming to an end, this is sadly no different with a weak and disappointing ending.
Last topic is the voice acting. The computer AM is voiced by the writer of the book; Harlan Ellison! Knowing his story so well he is able to really give a great performance, he delivers his line with menace and glee, really coming across as a viciously angry being. I loved that he was given a human voice rather than some silly robotic voice. The other characters have terrible voice acting, or rather it is passable but all wrong. The 5 survivors are supposed to have been physically and mentally tortured for the last 109 years, yet none of them sound remotely scared, angry or anything other than bored. Ellen the most wrong sounding character is really sassy, talking about AM in an almost friendly way. The voices are all at odds for the situation they are in.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is a good adventure game based on a great idea, I plan to read the book as soon as I can. As a game it excels with dealing with serious issues and is an interesting experience, well worth playing, it is just a shame the voice acting is so off putting (Ellison excepted) and that it falls into the trap of having a weak ending.
Monday, 25 November 2013
I had heard from many sources that Hotline Miami was a great game, but I never felt like it would really be for me. It is a top down shooter in which both you and the enemies you face can be killed with just one attack making for a strangely tactical puzzle like experience.
You play as a killer who each morning receives a phone call instructing him on where to go to carry out some assassinations. To do the job the killer dons an animal mask. That is pretty much it for story to begin with, but needless to say before the games end you get more reason for doing the murders.
The visual style and soundtrack combine to create a game that is pure heaven to play. The graphics are simple overhead 2D sprites but have a uniform feel to them that just works. The colours used are all garish 80's themed that work so well with the 80's style synth music. Each level has you after an intro sequence arriving at the location for your hit, these are all interior locations and range from offices, to restaurants, hotels and more. Despite a varied amount of locations they all look kind of similar due to the simplistic graphics. Enemies also all look pretty much identical, for the most part fighting goons in white suits. Large brightly coloured scores pop up for everything you do giving a strong arcade feel.
Despite the simple gameplay Hotline Miami never gets boring, it is hyper addictive. Death comes often but you always instantaneously respawn at the last checkpoint you got to so it is never a chore to die. Each level is like it's own little puzzle, goons will attack you on sight but a well placed punch can knock their weapons out their hands. All weapons kill with one hit on most enemy types, while throwing weapons and opening doors on bad guys stuns them. Guns are powerful and can be used from great distances, but the flip side of that is many times you will suddenly be killed from someone off screen. When your in the grove and systematically taking out foes left, right and centre it can be a real adrenaline rush. Once a mission is done (that usually just involves everyone in the place your at) it is your job to leave the location. Bodies stay where they fell so it can be oddly grim making your way back to your car with the droning song that plays and dark visuals combining to really get you to question just what you have done as you walk past tonnes of corpses (kinda reminds me of Travis Bickle at the end of Taxi Driver).
To spice things up you get a variety of different animal masks that give you various perks such as the pig mask that gives you more ammo in your guns, or the giraffe mask that lets you see further ahead in the stages. Also some stages are made more with plot in mind than fighting, including one stealth stage that was not the greatest. Before and after each stage you get an interactive story element that added a lot to what would otherwise just be a ton of shooting.
Hotline Miami is a very violent game, blood is everywhere, and your character finishes off enemies in the most brutal ways, such as stamping on their faces till they explode, or gauging the eyes out of one boss. My favourite weapon was the katana sword as it literally ripped the targets apart. Again music must be mentioned as I have never seen such a fantastic marriage between visuals and sound. Each tune seems tailor made for the killing fields and to be honest had me bobbing my head about in appreciation for the dance beats!
At around 20 missions (that includes a bunch of levels after the end credits) and with a fairly engaging, bizarre plot that reminded me a lot of Killer7 and a definite dirty feeling that you are not remotely a good person, this is something really worth playing and feels so utterly fresh. So brutally violent, so fun to play and such a thumping soundtrack. Not the longest game in the world (around 4 hours to play through) but is a cheap price so essential.
Sunday, 24 November 2013
Finally I have finished my quest to play through all God of War games in chronological order! I must admit by the end of God of War II I was feeling pretty worn out with that particular style of game. Regardless of all that I jumped right into this one hoping the vastly better graphics would spur me on to excel.
Taking place immediately after God of War II you as Kratos; the fallen God of War are assaulting Mount Olympus with the aid of the Titans. During your climb you are attacked by Zeus (the whole reason for the attack on the mountain) and cast down to the Underworld. Now you must once again climb to the top of Olympus, dispatching Gods left, right, and centre as you go, searching for the 'Fire of Olympus' that will give you the ability to finally destroy Zeus.
A lot better looking than most the previous games it was a joy to get crisp graphics back even if locations tend to have a plastic sheen to them which was a tad strange. By this point, and I'm sure it was a combination of both my crazed mission and the God of War formula but things got a bit dull at times. Dull is the wrong word, I guess just a bit predictable. There are only so many mythological figures to encounter and fight and I pretty much did it all. Most the enemies return from previous games, so you get your snake women, zombie soldiers, cyclops, centaurs, and others. All fun to battle but not many new enemy types with the exception of cool stone statue men and packs of scorpions (as well as Mama Scorpion for a fun boss fight). Talking of bosses the ones here are real fun, as per the plot the bosses are many with various Gods out to get you, from fighting Hades in Hell, to fighting Poseidon whilst clinging to the back of a Titan all are multi-staged and fun to do, always leading to a bloody finale. Best boss of the game goes to Hercules though, so satisfying, though fighting a gigantic Titan was a very close second!
As with all the other games this is a third person adventure game with plenty of puzzles of the switch pulling and block pushing variety. This time around you get access to five different main weapons. The Sword of Olympus can only be used when your rage metre is built up. As well as that you get your chain blades as per all the games, as well as some soul hooks, electric whip, and my personal favourites; giant metal gloves that are super powerful. Each weapon type has it's own magic type and as well as these you get access to God powers as you progress. These include the light of Helios (his screaming severed head) as well as a darn useful magical bow, and super speed to top things off which can be used both in and out of combat. Kratos still has the ability to glide so this is incorporated into some of the larger open areas.
God of War III starts off epic but when you have plummeted to the Underworld the game reverts to normal level design, not very exciting but does the job. This is a more traditional Underworld than the flames and skulls of previous ones. A lot of the game also takes place in Olympus itself with the remaining section being set in a huge suspended labyrinth halfway between the two. The sections where you go between the various locations are always fun as you are either flying up or falling down a vast tunnel with plenty of fireballs and wooden platforms to avoid. Labyrinth is the main dungeon of the game and while it is very simple to get through it is a uniquely designed contraption that reminded me a lot of the Cube film.
The most violent God of War yet, there is so much other the top gore with the bosses themselves getting the most pain, Hermes for instance having his legs hacked off, while Hercules has his head bashed in until it is a mushy pulp. One QTE events sees you beating someone until the screen drips red with blood, the QTE itself is never ending, was only after a few minutes of frantically tapping the circle button that I stopped and realised I could have finished at any time! The death of the Gods have vast negative impact on the world, with various plagues and curses being released. By games end the world is truly messed up.
Kratos is an angry guy, and a selfish one as well, so determined to kill Zeus that the destruction of the world means nothing to him. I actually felt bad dispatching the Gods, they are just trying to protect their world. One part of the plot I really did enjoy though was the many references to all the games that came before, even references to the PSP Chains of Olympus appear in huge numbers. For someone who has done all the games in a row this was a nice treat to get so much fan service.
All in all God of War III was a well crafted end to the series, it did not do anything radically different, but it did look great doing business as usual, and for a series as base as this that is no bad thing.
Saturday, 23 November 2013
First off I must mention that I met David Moody a week ago, it was a pleasure to meet him, he was a friendly and interesting man. The Autumn series of zombie novels are as I have said many times before my favourite horror series. Autumn: The City is the second book in the series and a vast improvement on the first (though that too was a good book). Some mild spoilers ahead but if you have not yet read Autumn then you should probably read that first anyway!
A lot of The City takes place at the same time as Autumn. The first book followed some survivors heading out into the countryside to escape the undead menace. Here, as the title kind of implies much of the book takes place in a city. A large group of survivors are holed up in a University complex but their every move brings more and more of the undead to their location. Meanwhile a group of soldiers emerge from an underground bunker where they had escaped to prior to the disease that wiped out most the worlds population. The virus still lingers in the air so the soldiers must wear full body suits when outside. On a recon mission to the city one of their number; Cooper gets separated and by chance discovers he is one of the naturally immune. Meeting up with the survivors at the University they formulate a plan to make the journey to the bunker and to safety.
The most unique thing about the zombies of the Autumn world is their ever changing behaviour. Around the first half of the book takes place over the same time span as the first book, later more changes are displayed in the undead as they start to get angry and more violent. Everything is bigger this time around, there are more zombies, more survivors, more action and the plot while simple is exciting. The fast pace of the story led to me being unable to put the book down after the first 40 pages.
I admit when it comes to book reviews I suck, in general I spend far too much time talking about plot rather than the craft of the thing. Moody is great at creating images in the mind with his descriptions, I swear reading the thrilling finale it was almost like I was watching a film, I could hear the characters talking, I could picture where they were and what they were doing. One thing I do always struggle with is remembering just who is who, mostly due to the large number of characters. Ones such as Cooper totally stick in my mind, but quite a few of the sub characters such as the old University guy, the angry bloke who wants to get drunk, and the Dr all just meld into one so I am eternally confused just who is talking.
The sheer number of the zombies is really something to picture, though the bodies are far more frail than other zombie fiction so they are no problem for any of the survivors to dispatch or even force their way through. One of the messages of the book though is that they are legion, it doesn't matter how many you kill there will always be more, and even just by killing them you attract more as in a dead, silent world any sound is a beacon shining out.
Autumn: The City just gets better as it goes along, I immediately went straight onto the third book in the series as soon as this one was finished, awesome stuff.
Friday, 22 November 2013
Now I do enjoy a good zombie comedy but they can be hit and miss, from the highs of Gangsters, Guns and Zombies to the lows of Dead and Breakfast. I was not sure what to expect of Stalled, I wondered how a film that takes place almost exclusively in a toilet stall could sustain my interest for 90 minutes, no matter how funny. Stalled was the final film shown at this years UK Festival of Zombie Culture.
On Christmas eve loner janitor W.C is in the female toilets of the office he is employed by to fix a speaker. It is also the night of the staff Christmas party so when some party goers enter he quickly hides away in a cubicle so that he is not seen. Whilst hiding a zombie outbreak occurs (as these things do), it is not long before W.C's cubicle is surrounded by the flesh hungry undead. Bonding with an office girl; 'Evie' in a cubicle a few doors down they begin to plan a way to escape their trap.
Stalled manages to never get boring, no mean feat when 95% of the film takes place in a cubicle. W.C is not a particularly likable character, he is a bit of a pervert, and has various personality traits that make it hard to support him but his and Evie's relationship is an interesting thing. You never see Evie talk, instead the camera focuses on a drawing W.C has done of what he imagines the girl to look like whenever she speaks. This led me to think that the girl was all just a figment of his imagination, especially as thanks to the low budget it is very obvious the girls voice has been dubbed in as does not sound like she is actually there. She is an essential character though and forces W.C to confront just what sort of person he actually is.
A lot of the effects and the humour reminded me of Peter Jackson's early work; Braindead, and Bad Taste, icky, gooey and bad looking in an interesting way. A lot of the humour was a bit too puerile for my liking, such as when W.C throws used female hygiene products at the zombies as a diversion, just gross. But there is lots of cartoon violence with lashings of blood and gore, and even a zombie rat thrown into the mix that keep things rolling over on the icky front
It is also really quite funny in places. The office party was a fancy dress one so you get zombies in all manner of dress. Early on some kind of super hero bursts into the room with dramatic music playing, then a close zoom on the helmet of the hero reveals it is just another zombie, other ones I recall where a zombie Santa Claus, zombie Christmas pudding, and even a zombie Jesus. At times Stalled almost takes on a Lee Evans style silent comedy with lots of exaggerated goings on as W.C wrestles with his predicament. A mid film sequence in which W.C takes some Ecstasy to try and help his fear was hilarious thanks to a great dancing montage, the highlight of the film right there for me. I also really loved the ending, simple, but effective
Thursday, 21 November 2013
The penultimate zombie film at this years UK Festival of Zombie Culture and one I was looking forward to seeing thanks to it starring 80's action star Dolph Lundgren. Now I was not expecting anything at all ground breaking in this mash up of sci-fi and horror but I was expecting some mindless fun.
It starts with text on screen explaining that a zombie outbreak led to a city somewhere in Asia being sealed off from the outside world trapping both infected and uninfected alike there. Dolph plays Max Gatling who heads up an operation to enter the forbidden zone and rescue the daughter of a V.I.P (who just so happens to be the man responsible for the outbreak in the first place). With most his squad killed by the ravenous ghouls and the allotted mission time limit up Max decides to stay in the danger zone rather than evacuate to complete his mission. He soon finds the girl and a bunch of survivors she is holed up with, but nothing is ever easy as not only is there a group of malfunctioning robots rampaging through the city but also the place is due to be fire bombed at any time, so Max has his work cut out!
Battle of the Damned was enjoyable, though certainly not a film that tries to convey any sort of message of any importance. From the heroes name alone you can tell it is an ode to the 80's action films of old. Dolph is starting to look his age now but spending most his time contained in the futuristic military suit thing it is only when he pauses to make plans that this is really seen. Every time he goes to read his character puts on these ridiculously learned reading glasses that just had me and everyone else laughing out loud. Side character suffer more, the daughter of the V.I.P (Melanie Zanetti) comes across like Asia Argento, a bad-ass first seen battling zombies in a convenience store with a shot gun before a cool chase sequence, she is in fact not bad. Matt Doran as her romantic interest Reese though just looks weedy, is hard to take him seriously. The rest of the characters are mostly forgettable with the exception of Elvis who becomes almost on par with Max for skills, and I enjoyed the character of Duke (A bad guy in a weaselly kind of way).
The previously mentioned robots were a cool inclusion. I really can't think of a single zombie film out of the hundreds I have seen that have featured robots. Scenes where waves of the undead advance on the giant machines were pretty awesome in all honesty. The special effects while not stellar are still good enough. Why zombies are trying to eat the robots that do not even look remotely human though I do not know!
The plot is nothing special, I wouldn't expect it to be but the fact the city is to be carpet bombed is something that comes out of nowhere and a late twist was really pointless. With montages, traditional 80's action heroes and plenty of one dimensional characters this is a modest love song to the films of old. That in turn does limit it's ideas though as genius robot inclusion aside there is not any innovation.
With plenty of zombies, plenty of action, and of course those robots Battle of the Damned knows exactly what sort of film it is and gives you everything expected of it. A good film to drunkenly watch with friends.