STREAM QUEEN: back to the dead

I’ll always be a fan of zombie films, but at the moment it’s safe to say the genre needs to be buried for a while. It’s seriously becoming overkill. So did any of the six from this latest streaming raid of the undead work for me?

RAVENOUS (2017)

When a zombie film begins with a fast running little girl zombie attacking a couple at a car race, I get sucked in.

This film then turns into…well, you know how you sometimes watch three episodes of The Walking Dead in a row filled with scenes about human emotions, an occasional exciting zombie incident, and a lot of roaming around the woods and driving from one deserted location to the next trying to survive, but it feels like the plot is going nowhere? That’s what Ravenous feels like.

For me there are two things about this movie that I’ll remember. First, there’s a running side story about an asshole who keeps purposely jumping out and scaring the main characters that brings some oddly out of place humor to an otherwise somber and serious film.

Second, the zombies seem to be building…um…a chairway to Heaven.

I don’t know what it means, but the zombies are stacking chairs in a field and it becomes a major focal point of the second half of the film

ONE LAST SUNSET REDUX (2015)

As far as I can garner from IMDb, this “redux” is an expanded version of the original, with more scenes and new characters, but I’m not totally sure if it is just a re-edit, if the film was actually reshot, or if this is a sequel.

When the film begins, it focuses on two African-American sisters (one former military) struggling to survive after the zombie apocalypse. It then sporadically jumps to a story of a white blonde girl (yawn!) who I believe was a married lesbian based on her daydream flashbacks.

In the end, this low budget film is mostly scenes of strong women kicking both zombie and man ass (my favorite parts), interspersed with meaningful conversation about women’s feelings (my least favorite parts). And it’s all filtered through a sort of daylight sepia tone.

If “redux” is just an extended version of an original cut, it may have been a more concise film before. For instance, the last 20 minutes consist of just one character moving from place to place and being contemplative about all that has transpired. I simply can’t handle that much character development, especially for the final quarter of a zombie film.

QUADRANT 9EV9 (2016)

Whenever a zombie movie opens with a cheesy, low budget undisclosed military bunker scene, you know what to expect.

Quadrant 9EV9 takes that expectation to a new level. It is not only a low budget film, it is slow as fuck until something finally happens, when it at last becomes a little better.

A bunch of kids sneaks onto an old military base to camp. And then they talk and talk and talk. They also sit by a campfire, get warned away by some creepy old dude, find and break open a trap door in the ground, do something awful…then continue talking.

Eventually they hear noises outside their tent and are soon being chased by guys in jumpsuits with zombie faces, making this sort of like a low budget version of 13 Eerie.

There aren’t a lot of zombies, but they do give the main group a good fight.

Its not super gory or anything, and these aren’t traditional gut munching zombies, but the action is pretty fun for a while if you can get through the first part of the film.

THE TRIP (2018)

I was feeling this movie when it starts with our hunky hero boxing at the gym.

He doesn’t get that there’s a zombie apocalypse until an old man at a bar saves him from death (and subsequently, undeath).

The hunky hero joins a bunch of survivors hiding out in the building and then…they talk, talk, talk. It’s character development overload. It’s a zombie movie. How much do we need to know about inevitable zombie chow?

They plan to go to a safe place in the mountains, and are forced to before they can set the plan into motion. In the best sequence in the film, zombies infiltrate their building.

Despite the zombies just being people with some gray-green face paint and blood around their mouths, intense action and gnarly chomping make this a hard scene to top, and the movie never does.


Am I the only one who kind of sees a blueberry pie?

The group gets to the mountain, there’s a lot more talk, they battle with another group (even more characters to develop), and zombies eventually chase them through the woods during the day. This final act feels so much more low budget than the first act.

ALMOST DEAD (2016)

Now this is a unique premise for a zombie film. It’s sort of Cujo with zombies.


WOOF!

A woman wakes up bound and gagged in a crashed car.

The driver is dead, there are zombies outside, and the main woman keeps getting calls from her sister, who sounds almost as concerned about her as she is about the antidote the main woman apparently made but doesn’t remember anything about. She also doesn’t remember her own child, who her sister keeps mentioning.

While the setup is intriguing and there are quite a few intense and atmospheric zombie attack scenes, this film can definitely start wearing on you, particularly the phone calls. The voice on the other end just sounds way too melodramatic, and it infects the overall tone of the non-zombie parts.

Even so, it’s a polished production that’s well worth a watch if you want something a little different from the zombie genre.

EMPIRE STATE OF THE DEAD (2016)

Empire State of the Dead is so my kind of indie zombie flick I ordered the DVD before I even finished streaming it. As I said earlier, if you’re going to do a zombie flick these days, you have to bring something new to it …or at least make it a nonstop joyride.

Hell, this film runs a ridiculous 112 minutes long and I never complained. Part of the reason it keeps moving is because it’s sort of like an anthology film all set in the same post apocalyptic universe. Each vignette is unique with a different feel to it, but they’re all entertaining and well executed.

Loosely tying the tales together is the story of a military team hunting down a gangster who wants to overturn the government…using the zombies as his army. This seemingly momentous plot is mostly incidental and isn’t even necessary, especially since it only comes into play during short segments featuring the military or the gangster.

Here’s a breakdown of the segments:

  • We first meet the gangster in a funny, Tarantino-esque dialogue scene in which he talks to a guy he’s holding captive about a run-in with his dog while naked, his love for Stallone films, and how the guys he kills keep coming back to life.

  • One of my favorite segments from a horror standpoint, this is an atmospheric short about a drug addict on the streets who is fucking creepier and scarier than the zombies.
  • This playful segment has a burnout getting lessons on how to shoot zombies from a hunk. The hunk is the leader of the military team, and we next meet his two soldiers, a guy and a girl who bring some humor as they bicker about what they should call thezombies since they are forbidden to call them zombies.

  • Two dudes step into backwoods territory and encounter a naked muscle hunk with an insatiable sexual desire…who demonstrates that he’s more concerned with wearing a condom when he fucks a guy up the ass than when he bangs a zombie.

  • This next quickie is a goodie, with two guys freaking out over the fact that there are zombies everywhere, and it’s all viewed from the POV of a zombie.

  • Another fun one, this tale is about a trio of crazies dressed in goth costume that get a thrill out of killing zombies, but then take a break to play a hunting game with a couple of survivors they come across. The tall goth dude with long hair steals the show, but the fight scenes are a little rough, with no sound effects and timid choreography.

  • Yet another fun one with a cute dude delivering supplies to a doctor who believes he has a cure. There are some funny moments when the cute guy encounters two military guys who make gay jokes while patting him down. When the zombies attack there’s plenty of gore, and the cute guy nails the cheesy tone of an 80s horror flick.

  • it’s a bit jarring to suddenly get a black and white segment, but this is a really unique twist on the moral dilemma of having to kill a loved one that turns zombie.

The “wraparound” finishes things off, with the military facing the gangster and his army of zombies in an old warehouse for an action and gore packed finale.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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