PRIME TIME: taking a bite out of some zombie flicks

It felt like I hadn’t done a zombie marathon in a while, so I dug through my Prime list and plucked out all the zombie films to bring you a zomblog of five flicks to feast on. I even added one of them to my own horror film collection after watching it.

WORMWOOD’S END: DEAD LIFE (2021)

This film appears to have gone through title changes and perhaps different versions and been rereleased over the past decade, but this is the iteration in which I’ve seen it.

It’s a low budget, semi-comedy take on The Walking Dead zombie apocalypse plot, and while it’s fairly cliché and has its indie movie issues, there’s something oddly charming about it.

Specifically, the main characters work quite well off each other and are likable and funny.

The zombie makeup is silly fun. It’s perhaps a little over the top, in part because the film predominantly takes place in bright daylight, but the exaggerated hideousness of the faces works perfectly with the tone of the film.

The events that unfold are perhaps a little meandering, and there’s nothing suspenseful or frightening here. The three main characters are just trying to survive in the apocalypse when they are drawn into a less than moral group community.

They basically spend the film trying to figure out how to get away from the larger group while dealing with zombie encounters. The pacing plods along a bit, but the final act packs in plenty of action, gut-munching gore, and even a fisting scene!

THE DAY OF THE LIVING DEAD (2014)

This is such an odd and quirky little zombie indie, and I couldn’t get into the overarching plot, but I was totally into its unique aspects.

It takes place in 1957 Hollywood and is basically making a statement about the evils of capitalism. A bunch of employees from a big cigarette company get sick, get fired, and go missing…and so does the insurance investigator on the case.

Rather than making sense of the convoluted storytelling, it’s easier to see this as a series of really cool zombie vignettes showing us what happened to each of the players in the plot.

The scenes are presented in black and white to capture the spirit of old 1950s movies, but they switch to full color for the really gory moments, which is very cool.

The zombie makeup and gore use practical effects, there are several indie horror actors, including James Duval, Jeff Dylan Graham, and Fright Night‘s Stephen Geoffreys, and I found some of the short zombie segments to be deliciously creepy nods to the original Night of the Living Dead.

INMATE ZERO (2020)

This is the film in the bunch that immediately got added to my personal collection as soon as it ended, and even the hubby was totally into it.

I’ve seen my fair share of zombie prison outbreak films, but this is one of my faves so far…even though it takes place in a women’s prison. Heh heh.

The female inmate lead is fantastic, and the script manages to clearly define each character (inmates and prison staff) without trying too hard and without slowing down the pace.

Our main woman is offered the opportunity to escape death row if she agrees to permit herself to be used for medical experiments.

When she lands in the infirmary after a fight, it becomes clear pretty fast that it’s a good thing she didn’t agree to the offer.

A phenomenal first zombie scene sets a frightening tone, creates an unnerving, dark and shadowy atmosphere, and presents us with freaky zombies that jitter, shake, and contort. Eek!

The action kicks in immediately, forcing inmates and staff to team up to stay alive and find their way out of the prison. And don’t you know the most likable characters are the prisoners. There’s even a gay guy, which we know because he first appears wearing a wig and lipstick and he’s called a faggot by some prisoner dyke (hey, she started it by calling us faggot first). He lands this one on the does the gay guy die? page.

The performances are quite good, and there are plenty of great scenes, including one reminiscent of the nurses from Silent Hill and several involving an electric chair.

And you just know that all the characters that deserve payback are going to get it good. There is a surprising lull suddenly in the middle of the film, but it picks right back up for the final act.

REPUBLIC Z (2018)

The least run-of-the-mill thing about this zombie film is that it appears to be a Russian film starring Asian actors.

It has a cold, bleak color palette, and the settings are bland and rundown to give us the sense that it’s the zombie apocalypse. The zombies at first seem gruesome and gnarly, but that effect wears off when you soon realize they all kind of look alike because it appears that the makeup is mostly similar prosthetic masks.

We meet two dudes just trying to survive a zombie apocalypse by staying in cabins they come across. One guy is a bit of a geek and brings slapstick humor to the film, including some odd fart and shit sound humor early on. None of it seems to fit the overall tone of the film, which isn’t a zomcom.

Then a girl joins them, and pretty soon the three are on a journey to find a guy who supposedly has the vaccine. That’s pretty much it.

There are the usual zombie encounters, shootouts, people getting bitten, and the added element of zombies freezing temporarily in the cold weather, and it mostly takes place during the day.

There aren’t loads of zombies, so this is definitely a predictable and low key zombie excursion that you might watch just because you’ve seen all the other zombie flicks out there.

ZOMBLIES (2010)

This little bonus is just a zombie action quickie running 47 minutes long.

It’s a simple military rescue mission in the woods, so there’s a lot of running, shooting, and fast zombies that look pretty gnarly and make squealing noises.

It feels like watching a video game, so if you’re just in the mood for a brief zombie fix, this should do.

It has a gritty look and feel, some CGI blood splatter, a cool first-person POV zombie transformation, and a kick ass zombie chase scene on a motorcycle.

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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