Remains is a 2011 zombie movie that's based on a Steve Niles comic. He's the guy who did the comic 30 Days Of Night a few years ago. I tried reading it when it came out but I didn't like the art much at all. Page after page of dull gray colored by a computer just left me cold. Lucky for me I was working at a comic shop in the evenings and I could check a lot of things out for free. That comic was was made into a movie which I never saw. It did well enough for someone to want to make another of his stories into a movie. There are so many zombies movies competing for an audience, and their cash, that any hook, like a connection to the 30 Days Of Night's writer, would be something sought and exploited. The story is mostly in a hotel in Reno Nevada that's mostly shot in Connecticut. There are plenty of shots of Reno to make you think that's where they are. I went through Reno once but that was 25 years ago. I don't remember anything about it. As the movie opens we meet some of the characters. The tv in the background of their scenes tells us that there's some science project going on that involves radioactive materials. It's activated, there's a big ass flash, and the world takes a punch in the nuts. People turn into flesh eating zombies somehow. The characters we've meet have all been positioned behind something and that gives them some bit of protection. They remain human. There's a dopey drinking guy who had some trouble in Las Vegas, a bitchy waitress who snarks all the time, a young guy from the magic show and piece of shit guy who pushes a fat biker down to escape the zombies. They manage to get together inside the hotel and somehow not manage to arm themselves and escape. Some of the tension building or character ark shaping scenes are pretty rotten. Most of the acting isn't too bad, kind of typical in a low budget movie but they have some pretty awful dialog and direction. John Doolan wrote the screenplay and Colin Theys directed. They have made three other films together. The first two of their movies score about 3.5 each on the IMDb, and they don't sound that good, this movie scores a 4.3 on the IMDb and that's not far off. Their 2012 movie scores a 5.5 so they might be geting better. Remains scored well (5.9) with males under 18 and women 30-44 (4.9). Not sure why that would be, other than under 18s haven't seen enough good zombie movies to know better and the ladies like main lead Grant Bowler. The special effects are about average but one in particular stands out as particularly embarrassing. A small truck rolls over in the street in a awkwardly shot scene that is there for no appearent good reason other than the writer couldn't figure out anything more interesting. Better they should have spent the money on some more gun rentals and exploding heads. I wouldn't want to see it again.
I had seen that Jon Heder was in a zombie comedy and thought I would NetFlix it. Woke Up Dead really started as a web show. Heder was the producer and they did 22 episodes in 2009. Those 3 to 7 minute shorts were cut into a 90 minute movie and that's what's on the dvd. Jon narrates the story about his new dead life. He woke up that way and spends the movie trying to figure out what happened to him. His room mate is Josh Gad and he's one of those really annoying guys that makes you wonder why Jon wouldn't prefer living in his car. Oh yeah, he doesn't have a car. Krysten Ritter plays a med student that tries to help. She and Jon develop a bit of a relationship by the end of the movie. Josh just acts like a pig so he doesn't get a girl. Daniel Roebuck plays a guy who is spying on Jon but we never find out why. Meital Dohan plays a gal who also woke up dead. She's got some connection to Daniel Roebuck but we never learn what it is. Jean Smart is Jon's mother but she doesn't arrive until near the end of the movie and when she drops the "I think I know what's going on with you" to Jon we never find out what it is because the movie ends. There wasn't a second season so they never wrapped it up. The story is mildly amusing, it made me laugh occasionally. It's too bad they don't finish the thing but that's the movie biz, huh. Glad to have seen it, glad to have NetFlix'd it.
Sperhauk was nice enough to pass along the spare dvd from the BluRay of From Beyond and I watched it this morning while I was writing this post. It's a Stuart Gordon horror movie from 1986 that's adapted from an HP Lovecraft story of the same name. Gordon had just had a fair hit with Re-Animator and producer Charles Band wanted to try to make another. That too was based on a Lovecraft story, Herbert West, Re-Animator. In From Beyond Jeffrey Combs is helping Ted Sorel with his experiments. His big steel electric pulsating rod unleashes strange creatures from another dimension. Bitey creatures. The power gets shut off and Ted is missing his head. Jeffrey gets arrested and Barbara Crampton is a psychiatrist who comes to observe him. Jeffrey and Barbara were both in Re-Animator but their roles are reversed in From Beyond where Jeffrey is more the victim and Barbara the driven scientist. Ken Foree is a cop who takes the two of them back to Ted's lab. Things go pretty bad after that. The dvd looks great and I'm guessing the BluRay will look really nice. There are some new special extras on the disc in the form of interiews with Stuart Gordon, Barbara Crampton, Jeffrey Combs and Stuart Band that were interesting to listen to.. I never bought the 2007 dvd but that's ok, the special features from that are here too. It's all makeup and puppets for the creatures in this film and there's a nice featurette on the makers. The puppets and prosthetics work fairly well for a Charles Band Empire Pictures release. They shot the thing in Rome, for $4.5 million, in the Dino Delaurentis Studios. Band owned them briefly in the 1980's. It's good whacky fun, though it lacks the humor that made Re-Animator such a hoot. One for the monster movie fan who likes gooey monsters, weird sex and creature chopping.