It’s October, the Golden Zombeys have been handed out, and it’s time to start a brand new season of Zombie Movie Night. To kick things off, my brother and I sat down to watch a long-awaiting sequel: Dead Snow 2! Until….some technical difficulties put a stop to that plan. Instead we set up another sequel, though not as long-awaited or exciting.

The Dead 2: India

The Dead 2

The original (and cleverly named) The Dead was part of ZMN Season 3. While it looked kind of cool, overall it was disappointing and did not fair well in the ZMN Standings. So expectations were a bit low for the sequel. This time the action moves from Africa to India. The main story revolves around an American (because who wants to root for some weird foreign hero) traveling across the zombie-ridden landscape to reach his knocked-up Indian girlfriend and live happily ever after. Along the way he picks up a spunky Indian kid to act as his Short Round.

THE GOOD: The Dead 2 is quite an improvement over the original. It kept the things that worked, like cool-looking, super-slow, but ever-present zombies, but picked up the pace and the action, both of which were lacking in the first go-round.

THE BAD: There were still some clunky sub-plots, such as the pregnant girlfriend’s theological debates with her father and the not-at-all-surprising turn of her mother. Another slightly annoying aspect of the film was the hero’s nigh-invulnerability. He gets swarmed by zombies at least 5 times, each time amazingly able to shrug them off completely unscathed, while everyone else gets the shit bitten out of them.

THE ZOMBIES: The zombies are the same here as they were in the first film. Slow, but all over the place.

VERDICT: The Dead 2: India is a definite improvement over the original and worth checking out for any zombie enthusiasts. Grade: B

Current ZMN Rank: #43 out of 152

Golden Zombey WatchPossible acting nods for the hero and his sidekick.

A Virgin Among the Living Dead

Not pictured in this film: any of the things in this poster

Not pictured in this film: any of the things in this poster

Next up was the provocative A Virgin Among the Living Dead, alternately titled Christina, Princess of Eroticism. Neither of those titles are anything close to being an accurate description of this film. I actually found the history of this movie to be more interesting than than the movie itself. Back in the swinging late-70s, Jess Franco made a movie called A Virgin Among the Living Dead, a story about a young woman (presumably a virgin, I guess) who travels to visit a family she’s never met after the death of her estranged father. Apparently she has inherited the mansion and estate of said absent Dad. When she travels into town, some of the locals inform her that the estate is abandoned, which seems odd when she gets to the mansion and meets the family (who are all super-weird). Strange events and much nudity ensue as Christina begins to figure out that her family may or may not actually be among the living.

Distributors of the film decided that Franco’s vision wasn’t properly sexed up, and demanded something more erotic that they could get into theaters. Some of the spookier moments were cut and an orgy scene, which was directed by someone else and included no characters involved in the storyline, was added. The scene itself is almost hilariously unsexy, as 3 couples clumsily roll on top of each other in the grass. Even the actors seem uninterested, as the full frontal males are clearly not aroused. The film was retitled, Christina, Princess of Eroticism and unleashed upon the world. Later, in the early 80s, distributors noticed that zombies were popular, reinstated the Virgin title, cut out the orgy, and added some scenes with generic zombies rising from the grave. These scenes were also directed by someone else and did not include any of the original actors. The lead actress in the scenes dresses like the original Christina, but is always shot from behind or with her hair over her face. The scenes were equally stupid and pointless, but featured less flaccid penises.

Anywho, the DVD that was gifted to me included the original and zombie versions, with the orgy scene as a bonus feature. My brother and I accidentally watched the original version and then had to go back and watch the zombie scenes to make it eligible for ZMN. Was it worth the effort, read on to find ou…….no, no it wasn’t.

THE GOOD: The beginning of the movie is actually enjoyable as it features some bizarre, crazy, hilarious stuff. I believe some of it was intended and some not. The nonsensical family introductions almost led me to think that Virgin might be a surprise favorite. There’s also tons of ridiculous, gratuitous nudity.

THE BAD: Somewhere along the way, the ridiculousness wears thin and the second half of the movie becomes tiresome and unentertaining. A lot of the same stuff happens over and over. Christina is warned so many times to leave the mansion, by both the living and the dead, that you almost want to see her get taken down in the end, just for not listening.

THE ZOMBIES: The zombies are not part of the movie. In this case, they were actually added on as a cash grab. The scenes that feature them are pretty terrible and actually detract from an already mediocre film.

VERDICT: I almost recommend A Virgin Among the Living Dead as a curiosity, but I can’t honestly say that it’s a good movie. Grade: C-

Current ZMN Rank: #113 out of 152

Golden Zombey WatchIt’s going to be hard to knock this one out of Best Nudity competition.

Golden Zombey Logo Season 5 is over people, 1/2 a decade of zombie movies in the can. The end of the season means that it is time to hand out the coveted Golden Zombeys! Celebrating the best and the worst that Zombie Movie Night had to offer. Eligible movies were any that were viewed as part of Zombie Movie Night between October 2013 and September 2014. Here’s a quick rundown of the winners. Congratulations to all! For a more detailed presentation including nominees, pictures, and explanations for each winner, click the link:

13:14 Zombeys PDF

2014 Hall of Fame Inductee: Shaun of the Dead

Best Zombie Movie Night Feature: The Battery

Best Actor in a Zombie Movie: Dan Palmer – Stalled

Best Actress in a Zombie Movie: Najarra Townsend – Contracted

Best Supporting Actor in a Zombie Movie: Jarrod Pistilli – Buck Wild

Best Supporting Actress in a Zombie Movie: Caroline Williams – Contracted

Outstanding Zombie in a Zombie Movie: Propeller Head – Frankenstein’s Army

Best Villain (Non-Zombie): Dr. Viktor Frankenstein – Frankenstein’s Army

Best Zombie-Fighting Duo or Team: Overtime – Raph & Max

Best Zombie Comedy: Dead Before Dawn

Best Nudity: Night of the Creeps

Best Foreign Film: Eaters

Most Memorable Massacring of Zombies: Zombie Hunter – Father Jesus with an Axe

Most Original Zombie Origin: Attack of the Vegan Zombies – Witchcraft and Blood/Alcohol Content

Best Soundtrack: The Battery

Most Bizarre Zombie Behavior: The Dead Matter – Zombie’s Day Out

Best Unintentional Comedy: Zombie Massacre – The President of the United States

Worst Ending: Dorm of the Dead

Biggest “WTF” Moment: Frankenstein’s Army

Best Poster Art: Eaters

Check out previous years’ winners here

Wel’p, 5 years of watching zombie movies on a monthly basis are in the bank. September marks the end of another season of flesh-eating fun. Let’s take a look at the last two entrants of the year and determine whether they belong comfortable at the top of the standings or tied up in the basement.

Knight of the Dead

Knight of the Dead

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table vs. Zombies! Sounds awesome, right? Well, it might be. Unfortunately, Knight of the Dead is not that movie. Instead we’ve got a bunch of knight-ish fellows and a priest being as boring as possible while still engaging in sword fights with zombies.

THE GOOD: KotD actually looks pretty good. Aside from some bad-looking CGI blood splatters, the cinematography, costume design, and make-up are pretty decent. Some zombie movies are good despite looking pretty bad and low-budget. KotD pulls off the reverse, and looks better than it is.

THE BAD: Despite looking good and containing plenty of medieval-type action sequences, there’s simply not enough compelling story to make KotD any good. The characters and story are not given much of an introduction, which left me wondering what the hell was going on for about the first 30 minutes of action. By the time I figured it out, I didn’t care anymore.

THE ZOMBIES: The zombies are residents of a cursed area of land where the dead rise and feast on the living. We know that the land is cursed, because the characters make sure to exclaim, “This is cursed land.” every 5 minutes or so. If you were looking for a hard-to-kill zombie in full battle armor, you won’t find it in this film. In fact, none of the characters ever resemble the big guy you see up on the cover art.

VERDICT: I’m still surprised that a movie with this many medieval action scenes could be this boring. I could not wait for this one to end. Grade: D+

Current ZMN Rank: #127 out of 150

Golden Zombey Watch: There might be something in here worthy of a Most Memorable Massacring or Best Zombie Fighting Team nomination.

Contracted

Contracted

Samantha’s having a rough time. Things with her girlfriend are not going well. She’s recently moved in with her mother and their relationship is less than ideal. Her career also does not seem to be taking off as she works as a waitress and passively hopes to get accepted into some kind of flower-related institute of higher learning. So, when she attends a party that her girlfriend no-shows for, I guess it didn’t seem like the worst idea to get drunk and have a one-night-stand with a random stranger. What’s the worst that could happen? Unfortunately for Samantha, she’s in a zombie movie, so the answer’s kind of obvious.

THE GOOD: Contracted is a good movie. Samantha’s journey from down-on-her-luck cute girl to full on raging zombie is engaging, tragic, and often times stomach-turning. Good acting and make-up complete the package.

THE BAD: I’ve read some criticisms that the characters around Samantha do not react to her condition realistically, particularly her mother. I did not find this to be the case. You’d be surprised how much blaming occurs when people have a history of poor decision making. While Mom could have pushed more for medical care, I don’t think that it was unrealistic for her to make the assumption that Samantha’s condition was a result of drug use or self-harm.

THE ZOMBIE S : Poor Samantha turns into the film’s sole zombie, vagina first. I think I’d rather be bitten on the arm. She becomes increasingly zombie-like as the film progresses.

VERDICT: This film was one of the stand-outs of this season and a good way to conclude it. Definitely not for everyone (especially the squeamish), but definitely one that any zombie enthusiast should check out. (Also, a good moral for the kids: Don’t have sex with anyone, ever.) Grade: A-

Current ZMN Rank: #15 out of 150

Golden Zombey Watch: Strong contender for Best Actress. There might be a Supporting Actress nod in there as well.

For the last 3 years, I’ve offered up what I believe to be the best zombie movies available immediately to watch if you have Netflix streaming. They have been some of my most viewed posts, so let’s keep the magic alive, shall we? Before we start here is a list of movies from the previous lists that are still available (or available again in some cases).

*Links lead to full reviews

The Horde, The Cabin in the Woods, Pontypool, Dead Snow, [REC] 3, ParaNorman, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, Survival of the Dead, Quarantine 2, and Beyond the Grave.

1. Night of the Living Dead – The granddaddy of them all. Birth of a genre. This one had been streaming a few years ago, and now it’s back, Yay!

2. World War Z – Brad Pitt’s re-imagining of the popular novel by Max Brooks. There’s an unrated version that I have not seen, I wonder if it improves the film, which was already pretty cool? Only one way to find out….Ask someone who’s watched it.

3. Harold’s Going Stiff – This one goes for the heart, and not in the normal flesh-eating way, either. Golden Zombey winner, Sarah Spencer, steals the show as she cares for an elderly man slowly giving way to zombieism.

4. Frankenstein’s Army – Sometimes you want a movie that’s just crazy, crazy, crazy, in your face, all the time. F’sA stars a zombie with a propeller for a head.

5. Night of the Creeps – An oldie, but goodie. Alien slugs create zombies that run amok in an 80’s college town. Pretty funny and engaging. Worth checking out.

6. Dead Before Dawn – Speaking of funny zombie movies. A curse causes local residents to kill themselves and then return as zombies. That might not sound like the makings of an effective comedy, but this one hits all the right notes.

7. Cockneys vs. Zombies – Yet another effective zombie comedy. Some down-on-their-luck English folk team up with the residents of a retirement community to give the zombie apocalypse a run for its money.

8. Buck Wild – This one I really thought would be terrible, but to my surprise was one of the most enjoyable zombie movies I’ve watched this year, even though it does not feature zombie deer.

9. Stalled – What would happen if you were on the toilet in a public restroom when the zombie apocalypse broke out? It’s time you found out.

10. John Dies at the End – Barely a zombie movie, but I’m still going to include it, just because it’s a fun movie.

Zombie Movie Night: August has a history of getting screwed up, what with vacation schedules and all, but this year my brother and I were able to cram it in before either of us hit the road. First up was:

Overtime

Overtime

If you’re a fan of 90’s era professional wrestling, then you probably recognize Al Snow as the mannequin wielding leader of the JOB Squad. Snow’s wrestling days are done, so now he’s working on his SAG card. In Overtime, Snow and his sidekick, John Wells, play Robin Hood-esque hitmen. They work with a defense attorney who puts them on the case of any particularly heinous criminals that she has just gotten off the hook in court (I suppose that saves people money in the long run, ya’know, incarceration costs and all). Snow is also portrayed as a hen-pecked family man with a nagging wife and ungrateful kids. He is charged with picking up a birthday present and cake for the son whose birthday he forgot, but then simultaneously gets assigned to take out a drug dealer who has designed a new addictive substance, with zombie-like results of course.

THE GOOD: Overtime is moderately funny and entertaining. Snow does a pretty good job, as do the rest of the cast. I might be a bit biased, because I always liked Snow’s schtick in WWE, ECW, and as a trainer on Tough Enough.

THE BAD: The filmmakers must have had some difficulty with their audio equipment because whenever there is dialogue outside, it appears as if everyone dubbed over their lines. It’s a bit jarring and made it feel like I was watching a Japanese movie even though I was pretty sure everyone could speak English.

THE ZOMBIES: Fast moving zombies who have been infected by an alien drug. They sometimes sprout appendages, which our heroes refer to as penises, but they’re otherwise pretty standard fast zombies.

VERDICT: Overtime falls in the mid-range of zombie movies. Recommended for zombie fans or fans of Al Snow. I don’t think it would convert anyone not already in one of those two camps, but there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half. Grade: B

Current ZMN Rank: #70 out of 148

Golden Zombey WatchAl Snow and John Wells may be in contention for Best Actor and Supporting Actor. Other nods might be in Best Zombie Comedy and Memorable Massacring for the Boss Fight at the climax of the film.

The Battery

The Battery

The Battery is a low budget, independent flick that I had been waiting to come out on DVD for a little while before I discovered that you could buy a digital copy off of the film’s website for $5. I figured, “What the hell? Worth a shot, right?” After some technological maneuvering, we were able to get The Battery up on my brother’s television. I’m glad it worked out, because this is one hell of a film.

Ben and Mickey are two (I’m presuming minor league) baseball players, traveling the northeast amongst the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. They’re not exactly friends, but rather two dudes who just happened to be together when the world went to Hell. Mickey is a sensitive fella who longs for what was lost and escapes from reality in a set of headphones. Ben is more of a realist and is more settled in the duo’s bleak existence. There’s some minor conflict between them that becomes escalated when they catch wind of a group of survivors who are not interested in taking on new members.

THE GOOD: Ben and Mickey are the only two characters on screen for most of the movie (Hell, even the zombies don’t get a whole lot of screen time), so a lot depends on their interactions and dialogue. Luckily, the film delivers and the result is an invested viewer. Too many movies focus more on the monsters, but the successful ones have characters you care about.

THE BAD: If I’m pressed to find a negative, some zombie enthusiasts might feel that the pace of the film is too slow or balk at the lack of gore. I don’t agree though, so “Screw you!” group of people I just made up!

THE ZOMBIES: Classic shufflin’ zombies that are straight out of a Romero movie or an episode of The Walking Dead.

VERDICT: The Battery is a great example of what the genre is capable of. Sometimes I question why my brother and I carve out time every month to watch (frequently terrible) zombie movies. Then, we catch a movie like The Battery, and my faith is restored. Do yourself a favor, forgo buying that sexy poster of Daryl Dixon, and spend your money on a download of The Battery. Grade: A

Current ZMN Rank: #12 out of 148

Golden Zombey Watch: I expect to see Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim on the ballot in Acting categories. Also a near-lock for Best Soundtrack, awesome independent music prominently featured throughout the film.

Zombie Movie Night: July! Go!

Buck Wild

Buck Wild

Last year the movie Infected teased us all with the thought of zombie deer. It did not deliver, but lo and behold, my dream of zombie deer tearing shit up was given new hope when I saw that there was a zombie movie called Buck Wild. Going on nothing but name alone, I entered Buck into the ranks of ZMN.

In a standard horror set-up, four buddies are going on vacation to a secluded hunting lodge for a weekend of bonding and not-getting-murdered. Unluckily for them, the lodge’s owner was recently bitten by a chupacabra, the cryptozoological “Goat Sucker,” and seems to be under the weather as a result. Spoiler Alert: He turns into a zombie.

THE GOOD: Buck Wild is a zombie comedy…..and it’s actually funny. The lead is a lovable loser. His buddies are a male slut and an uptight stiff (dare I say, nerd? I’ll leave that for the next review). But the scene stealer in Buck is the lead’s off-kilter cousin, who comes along for the ride and proceeds to make everyone uncomfortable by sharpening his knife in his sleep and practicing martial arts in the nude. This kind of character has been tried plenty of times and typically succeeds or fails based on the actor and dialogue. Luckily, in this case, both are strong.

THE BAD: I liked this movie a lot, but there were two moments that really fell flat. 1) The chupacabra at the beginning was a terrible looking puppet and overall unnecessary. It never returns and there was no reason to include this as the cause of the outbreak. 2) A scene in which a zombie provides Freudian psychotherapy to the main character really didn’t work. It certainly didn’t fit with the type of zombies the movie portrayed, but more importantly, it wasn’t funny. The next scene shows the lead sleeping, so I’ll at least give Buck the benefit of the doubt and say that it was a dream sequence.

THE ZOMBIES: And now the moment you’ve been waiting for! Zombie Deer……..are not present (wah wah). Nope, just standard zombies. Sometimes running, somewhat functioning when first infected, but overall pretty standard (save for scene mentioned above).

VERDICT: I went into Buck Wild with zero expectations. Based on title, poster, and description I thought for sure we were looking at bottom 10% of the list. I can’t really remember the last time I was this surprised on ZMN. This is a damn good movie. Definitely worth checking out. Grade: B+

Current ZMN Rank: #38 out of 146

Golden Zombey Watch: I could potentially see nominations for this one all over the ballot: Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Villain, Duo, Origin, Best Zombie Comedy, Soundtrack, Most Memorable Massacring, Bizarre Zombie Behavior, and WTF Moment.

Attack of the Vegan Zombies

Attack of the Vegan Zombies

If I’m going to give Attack of the Vegan Zombies any credit at all, it has a wacky-ass original premise. Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. A couple owns a vineyard. Years of unsuccessful harvests have led them to the brink of bankruptcy. In order to save the farm, Wife goes to her mother for help. Mom is a witch (resentful of her rebellious daughter, who chose not to be a witch). Wife and Mom make a potion to create a bountiful harvest. One of the ingredients is blood, which Wife collects from Husband (by tricking him into crazy, nasty, vicious, bloody, off-screen sex). Potion works! Fast forward to next year, the vineyard is so successful the couple hires local students to help them harvest all the grapes. But these are angry grapes. Aggressive grapes. See, Husband had been drinking before Wife took his blood. His blood angered up the grapes and now they crave….wine! And what’s the best way to get wine? By creating zombies, of course. Zombies that crave….wine! And if they can’t get wine, they’ll settle for the blood of humans that have recently drank (drunken?) wine. Because the wine is in their blood! Got it? Good. Let’s move on.

THE GOOD: No, let’s start with THE BAD: it makes more sense that way. Because this movie is bad. Really bad. First off, with a title and a description like that, you’d think that this would be tongue-in-cheek, off the walls whack-a-doo. But, it’s played fairly straight the whole time. Odd decision, but OK. Worse than this is the fact that all of the acting and all of the characters are terrible. Two of the students are nerds. You know they’re nerds because they wear glasses, button down shirts, pocket protectors, and reference Star Trek in nasally nerd voices. This wasn’t funny on Saved by the Bell, and it’s not funny now.

THE GOOD: The only saving grace for AotVZ is that it is at least enjoyably bad. Much on the level of Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill, everything in this movie is so bad that you can’t help but root for it. And, there is a throwaway lesbian with some boobage. They’re not the greatest boobs, but hey, credit where credit is due.

THE ZOMBIES: Oh yeah, the zombies look terrible too. Green face and body paint accompanied by neon green blood, a la Troll 2. And did I mention that the zombies attack humans to get at the wine in their blood? WTF!?!

THE VERDICT: So bad it’s good still doesn’t really equal a good movie. For the hardcore only. Grade: D

Current ZMN Rank: #128 out of 146

Golden Zombey Watch: Likely nominations for Origin and Bizarre Zombie Behavior. Best Nudity would be a stretch, but I’m not sure how much competition there has been this year. The whole movie itself could get nominated for WTF.

I have been negligent in some of my reviewing duties and I know that it has not gone unnoticed by my all of my loyal readers (population: 0). Just because I have missed some of my reviews has not meant that ZMN has not been chugging along though. So tonight, I’m going to do quick reviews of April and June’s entries.

Eaters

Eaters

Eaters is another one of those zombie movies that I saw a trailer for ages ago, but which just finally became available. Now anticipation is usually the key ingredient to disappointment, but luckily Eaters is a pretty damn good movie. The plot boils down to two buddies taking a road trip post-zombie apocalypse. Along the way, they run afoul of crazy survivors, Nazis (including a little person Hitler), mad scientists, and of course, zombies. The movie works mainly because the two main characters are likable and you care about what happens to them. Funny how that works. This one is definitely worth checking out. Grade: A

Current ZMN Rank: #27 out of 144

Battle of the Damned

Battle of the Damned

Dolph Lundgren and Robots vs. Zombies. That’s really all you need to know for this one. It’s good and bad for all the reasons you’d expect. I happened to enjoy it quite a bit, despite the fact that ol’ Dolph is a little bit up in age and doesn’t appear that tough when he whips out his Grandma-bifocals every time he looks at a map. I love the inclusion of robots for almost no reason. They’re actually quite inconsequential to the overall plot, but really, why the hell not put robots in your Dolph-powered zombie movie. Rock on! Grade: B

Current ZMN Rank: #67 out of 144

The Zombinator

The Zombinator

It’s funny that the tagline on the poster reads: “It started as a documentary,” because this started as a good movie (when it was a documentary) and then fell apart when it turned into a zombie movie. The movie starts out with a film crew following a fashion blogger. It really felt like it was going somewhere as characters were introduced and a moody vibe was established as the crew discussed how the town had a weird history of murder. Then, zombies descend on a party and everything that preceded it is flushed down the toilet and forgotten. An evil military guy and the titular Zombinator (who’s just a guy in black leather) come on the scene, characters are scared shitless by a building that has numbered doors, and one fellow discloses a history of parental abuse for no reason before quickly dying. It’s all pretty terrible and unwatchable, but for the me, the absolute number 1 sin is the inconsistency of the cameraman. The film starts out like a found footage flick, where the cameraman is a character in the movie. But then multiple times throughout the action, the cameraman is running with zombies, having doors closed in front of him, providing exterior shots…How is this happening?! Very frustrating and if I hadn’t already been taken out of the film, this would have done it for sure. I’m often disappointed by zombie movies, but rarely so abruptly. Grade: D-

Current ZMN Rank: #132 out of 144

The Dead Matter

The Dead Matter

The Dead Matter is more of a hybrid movie than a straight up zombie movie. It involves mystical amulets, vampires, vampire hunters, Tom Savini, and some zombies. The main character is a woman who desperately wants to bring her brother back from the dead, despite the fact that nobody else seems to think this is a good idea. But, being the good friends that they are they participate in a ritual with her after she finds a magical amulet. What are friends for right? The amulet in question happens to belong to a vampire who is being hunted by some dude while simultaneously engaging in a sort of vampire turf war with Tom Savini (very similar to Blade’s subplot). The woman succeeds in raising a zombie that does her bidding, but also brings about more trouble than it’s worth. The movie’s  got a mix of poor acting and adequate acting, but ends up being a pretty fun romp. Highlights include a zombie eating an ice cream cone and riding a merry-go-round. Grade: B

Current ZMN Rank: #55 out of 144