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The Dead

    It's too bad people can't get a bit more creative in titling zombie films, I realize that putting some sort of 'the dead' reference in your movies title lets the watcher know that they're in for some flesh eating ghoul action. But at this point, with the myriad of weak zombie films flying at us viewers, something as pedestrian and unoriginal sounding as "The Dead" almost begs to be ignored. Luckily I had seen a trailer for this randomly some time ago, and was interested, otherwise I may not have had the chance to enjoy the pleasure this zombie gem was offering to those curious enough to watch.

   The situation is a familiar one, the dead have come back to gorge on those unlucky enough to still have their lives, what's not familiar is the setting.....Western Africa, and I think that's where this movie garners a good portion of its success from. The combination of a merciless and mindless foe with the unforgiving and barren African savannah/desert make what could have very well been 'just another zombie film' into something very worth watching. But the location is not the only thing this film has going for it. The lack of dialogue (there is some, but it's definitely not a focal point of the film) makes for a much more somber and reflective film than most modern genre films, no unnecessary one liners, no hokey comic relief and a general lack of unsolicited human interaction. Another nice addition to the plot of this one goes back to the location but in a slightly different avenue, it's in western Africa, as I mentioned, which as most of us know is one of the more war ravaged places on the globe, and this film touches on that very subject in a way that gives a sliver of  hope for humanity.

   There's should be nothing remarkable about the zombies in this film, especially now that rabid/rage/sprinter zombies have evolved into the new, more terrifying breed of horde forming undead killers. But there's still something to be said for the slow, relentless, glass eyed denizens of old. And this movie shows what it is, creating virtually make-up-less creatures that still sell the creep factor as good as any frothing rage victim, just in a completely different way. These guys aren't monsters....they're dead people, and they look like dead people, who eat living people by the village-ful with the emotion of a professional poker player and the thousand yard stare of the most ruined of Vietnam vets.

   The violence in this one is great as well, despite the fact there is some CGI scattered throughout. It's classic brutal zombie fodder, but not forced or glorified, just natural, animalistic and unblinking. The reason I give this film a pass for using CGI is that they sparingly use it and when they do it's cleverly hidden and subtle, barely noticeable even. All things that make this guy one happy camper.

  All zombie fans, this is that once a year treat that you may have heard of but weren't too sure about whether or not to watch, do it you'll like it. And to you casual viewers, I'd say give it a watch too, there's a lot of good this film has to offer.

7.5/10 detached retinas


Welcome to the Jungle

  I still haven't been able to come to a definitive stance on the semi-recent outbreak of 'found footage' films. On one hand I love the realism and desperate aura that they create, but on the other, a lot of them seem cheap and the pace at which these types of films are being flung at consumers is a bit overboard. Whatever conclusion I do come to on where I stand on this new genre.... this film isn't going to have a huge impact on it. Not that it was horrible by any means, it just didn't sway me to either side of the argument.

  It starts out like many modern horror films do, with privileged white (although not all Americans) twenty somethings in a third world country on vacation, who then decide, for whatever reason, that merely enjoying the safety of the designated tourist areas isn't enough of a holiday and promptly proceed on an ill prepared shoddily thought out journey into the nearby jungle to meet whatever denizens await. The characters aren't nearly as bad as many associated with this young 'found footage' craze, yea they all still get annoying, but there's a genuine realism to the way they interact that puts what could have been a very generic cast a bit above some of this films counterparts. And the plot, If you haven't figured it out, is centered around cannibals, nothing super original here, but it definitely didn't lose me due to  overplayed-ness.

  The gore factor is excellent, although it takes a good three quarters of the film going by before it really starts spurting. There was definitely homage being paid the original 'found footage' cannibal gem Cannibal Holocaust with one specific scene, I won't get into it, but if you've seen the latter and watch this, you'll know what I'm talking about.

   This movie is definitely entertaining, although I can't give it a great rating due to it's unoriginality and the handheld camera movie overload of late. Give 'er a shot, and don't hesitate to let me know what you think.

6.5/10 detached retinas