Grimm Up North – Zombie Night
Tom was lucky enough to go to GRIMM Up North’s Zombie Night, here are his findings…
Zombies; love them or hate them, the infection has been spreading for years and this sub-genre of horror has never seemed as popular as it has over the last decade. When I discovered the Grimm team were hosting a Zombie triple bill including two yet to be released films I could not wait to spend an evening with the undead.
Juan of the Dead
It has taken some time but zombies have finally reached the shores of Cuba in Alejandro Brugués aptly titled second film, and he has done a fantastic job of blending horror with comedy to create a sharp pastiche of the genre. A bumbling duo decide to tackle the spread of infection head on by offering their services out to ‘kill loved ones’ in attempt to reclaim the island and make a killing in the process. When she isn’t verbally abusing her father, Juan’s attractive young daughter assists the pair along with his companion’s son who soon become entangled in a romance much to the frustration of Juan
Although much of the comedy was aimed at people familiar with Cuba and the politics of the country there is plenty of humour in bad taste that is perfectly suited for fans of the zombie genre. The raucous antics of Juan and his friends could easily have appeared in the new American Pie film, and the perverse toilet humour fitted perfectly as light relief from the shambling hordes of undead. There are the occasional creepy moments such as an impressive underwater scene but Juan of the Dead mainly sticks to comedy. Thankfully this is incorporated into the story so well that it will not disappoint ardent horror fans.
It is rare to see a competent original zombie movies these days and Juan of the Dead ticks both of those boxes as well as being highly entertaining. Comparisons to a certain Simon Pegg comedy are well deserved, but Juan is a different beast entirely, despite sharing similar themes and characters. Great fun, and an essential film for all zombie fans, Juan of the Dead is destined to be a cult classic.
War of the Dead
After seeing my first ever Cuban zombie film I was then treated to a zombie film set deep in a Russian forest during World War 2, and War of the Dead had a very hard act to follow. From the offset the dialogue was stilted and as the story unfolded it became apparent that the script still required a lot of work. There were some great ideas on show and exceptional camerawork throughout but the lack of a consistent direction meant that the whole film lacked the impact it needed to get away with the over the top action which dominated the film.
War of the Dead is definitely a missed opportunity, there was a great score used throughout which added to the feeling of dread and some epic slow-motion scenes but every time a character opened their mouth to utter something ridiculous it completely spoiled the mood. Thankfully the crowd made the best of it and it wasn’t long before the packed cinema was full of laughter, and even though I’m sure that was not the director’s intention, at least the audience was thoroughly entertained.
Zombie aficionados will undoubtedly have some fun with this one but I would advise others to think carefully before seeking out War of the Dead. If you really are desperate to see Nazi zombies then I would advise you to pick up Dead Snow Instead, far more enjoyable, and mainly because it doesn’t take the subject matter too seriously.
The Return of the Living Dead
This classic zombie film has been remastered for a Blu-ray release and as a huge fan of Return of the Living Dead I could not wait to experience it on the big screen accompanied by a crowd of rabid zombie fans, full of beer and hungry for blood. Those unfamiliar with the plot just need to know that for a film heavily influenced by The Evil Dead it translates the action to an eerie graveyard where a group of teenagers turn up to get drunk and party. When a pair of bumbling employees at a medical facility unleash a deadly gas in the air it is not long before the dead begin to rise and prey on the unsuspecting teens.
Dan O’Bannon is probably most famous for his contributions to the script that would eventually become Alien and his work on John Carpenter’s Dark Star, but his debut film showcases another skillset that he has successfully mastered. Blending elements of horror with black comedy and copious amounts of gore helped to establish The Return of the Living dead as a stone cold classic, and it is O’Bannons direction that ultimately secured its reputation as an essential watch for zombie fans
The Return of the Living Dead is due out on Blu-Ray in June and FRC will take a more in depth look at the film nearer to its time of release, so make sure to come back and find out our thoughts on the release.
The next Grimm event is a Ti West double bill that will take place on Thursday 24th May at Manchester Dancehouse featuring his excellent throwback to 70s horror ‘The House of the Devil’ and his latest film ‘The Innkeepers’. The House of the Devil is a very unnerving horror and the chance to witness this film on the big screen should not be missed and if the Innkeepers is anywhere near as good (and judging by early reviews it is), then we should be in for one hell of a creepy night.
Tickets and more information can be found HERE
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
Do zombies give you the creeps or do you love nothing more than watching them shuffle along on the hunt for their next victims? Let us know your thoughts below.