Deathdream & Last of the Living

Posted: 02/12/2012 in Movies

But wait! There’s more! Zombie Movie Night: February edition wasn’t over yet. In honor of Leap Year, we were able to squeeze in two more movies on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Deathdream

This poster only vaguely reflects events found in Deathdream.

Deathdream is a 1974 movie about a soldier who is killed in Vietnam, but strangely enough comes home anyway. Despite its sensational poster, Deathdream is more of a slow-building thriller than action movie.

At first everyone is excited to see young Andy come home, but when he starts acting a bit strange, each family member reacts a little differently. Mom turns a blind eye and insists that everything is ok, Dad hits the bottle and becomes angry and confused, and Sister gets dismissed. Towards the end of the movie, Andy starts to go full zombie and the body count starts to rise.

THE GOOD: I don’t find social commentary to be an essential ingredient when making a good zombie movie, but if done well it certainly adds to the experience. Deathdream was made nearly 40 years ago, but it seems just as poignant today. With soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s been a push to recognize and seek treatment for the effects of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Andy’s zombieism is an effective metaphor for the toll that wartime can have on a soldier returning home. It not only affects Andy, but starts to unravel his family as well.

In addition to that there’s some pretty good acting here as well. I particularly enjoyed Andy’s conflicted and inebriated father. The effects are good too as Andy quickly decomposes towards the end of the movie. This was Tom Savini’s first movie, but not his last zombie. (C’mon, Walking Dead, cast him as the Governor!)

THE BAD: The pacing in Deathdream is a bit slow. It takes a little while to build up, and even though the payoff is good, I would have liked to see things progress a little more quickly. There were portions that just seemed to drag.

THE ZOMBIES: Andy seems normal (physically) at first, though it’s later revealed that he needs to kill to maintain his freshness. He’s a thinking zombie and seems pretty self-aware. He acknowledges right off the bat that he was dead and later gives a lengthy exposition about his situation.

THE VERDICT: Deathdream is a solid zombie movie that any zombie fan should check out. It is a bit dated and moves a little too slowly, but it still packs a punch and delivers on most levels. I’d really like to see someone remake this one with a more modern twist.

Current ZMN Rank: #35 out of 70

Last of the Living

Last of the Living comes to us from the mysterious, hobbit-infested land of New Zealand. We’re introduced to three guys who have managed to survive the zombie apocalypse despite not having any discernible skill or ambition. They occupy various mansions and spend their days hanging out and watching old episodes of Great Bikini Workout. On one of their outings to gather supplies, they run into a woman who may have a cure for the zombie virus. They somewhat reluctantly agree to accompany her on a mission to the local hospital and then by plane to an island where her associates are waiting for her.

THE GOOD: LotL is not a great movie, but it is pretty amusing at times. The antics of the three heroes are hit-or-miss, with enough hit to be entertaining. The zombie action is pretty standard and well done. The movie also has a theme song, with a quasi music video during the credits. I found the song was stuck in my head at various times for the rest of the weekend…still not sure if that’s good or bad though.

THE BAD: Again, nothing great here, but nothing terrible either. Nothing stands out as being glaringly bad.

There are some mixed results in terms of zombie acting, with one kid zombie who couldn’t seem to keep the grin off of his face.

THE ZOMBIES: The zombies seem to be a mix of fast and slow. Most move slowly, but others seemed to be able to jump and run around. It seemed a little odd that after the characters discovered that there may be a zombie cure, they continued to kill them without remorse.

I always like a little something new, and LotL offers up a zombie in a parachute, for what that’s worth.

THE VERDICT: LotL falls in the mid-range of zombie movies. Nothing ground-breaking or fantastic, but still a pretty good movie to watch for your zombie fix.

Current ZMN Rank: #31 out of 70

Zombie Movie Night Standings: ZMN PDF

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