PRIME TIME: the dead walk, and walk, and walk, and walk, and run

It’s a five flesh eater flick marathon from my Amazon Prime watchlist. Are any of them worth a zombie-lover’s time?

DEATH WALKS (2016)

Even my hubby was intrigued by the story behind this one; a zombie movie made over the course of three years without spending a cent. It’s a bit manipulative that Death Walks informs us of its development story before the opening credits, and also lists the awards it has won at film festivals. For instance, as soon as the score began seconds later I said out loud, “Well, I can see why it won for best original music.”

It was a challenge to stick with the film at first. We are introduced to an excessive number of characters bumming around as they close up shop in a mall after business hours. I don’t think the slow burn approach builds tension quite like it intends.

Finally the zombies start suddenly appearing. They’re not gnarly or rotting, they just have prominent veins on their faces. They’re not slow or fast moving, they just stand there as motionless groups.

It’s actually incredibly effective, especially scenes in which they seem to inexplicably teleport closer and closer to victims, or when characters carefully weave between them.

Thing is, we rarely see people attacked. It’s most often cutaway moments with a scream, and then we just see a dead body lying there.

While the film is well made, there are some issues. Numerous times cutaway scenes leave out chunks of explanation. For instance, a scene of several people trying to escape via a ladder implies that the first one up is sliced by a huge fan that blocks the path, but the next thing you know, the others have somehow magically made it to the top of the ladder. Also, the purpose of many of the characters being there is not explained. They’re just there. And despite them knowing these things are dangerous, at times the characters just talk to them like they’re regular humans.

Eventually, we find out how the zombie infection started…sort of. There’s a cool twist even though it’s oddly farfetched, but another twist piled on top of that twist left me and my hubby completely confused.

EPIDEMIC (2018)

This little indie offers a different take on the infected genre, focusing on a small group of people at a party and the birthday girl’s bumpy relationship with her father. It smartly does it all in 71 minutes.

It also surprisingly branches off into unique territory halfway through rather than stick solely with everyone just getting infected and going after each other at the party.

And the guys are cute, I might add.

The infection begins with a not quite clarifying explanation; before going to the party, one girl finds a secret room in her basement and accidentally busts open a bottle of liquid.

By the time she gets to the party, she’s hallucinating and is soon setting off a chain reaction of guests puking on each other. Had the film been 90 minutes long, this thrilling sequence could have been expanded to bring more suspense and scares.

Instead, the movie switches focus to the dad and daughter. As odd a turn as it is, it’s definitely not predictable. My favorite horror moment comes right near the end of the film—even if it is essentially equivalent to a dream sequence.

PROJECT PURGATORY (2010)

During the zombie apocalypse, a big guy is welcomed into a safe house by a group of survivors after they see him single-handedly take down a load of zombies. While the general plot is as derivative as it gets, from the leader of the group having a secret room that is off limits, to a weasel of a survivor looking out only for himself, Project Purgatory plays by its own rules, which makes all its weaknesses its strength.

For starters, it’s not often that a low budget zombie film has barely any undead in it, yet I still find it ridiculously entertaining. What makes this low budget indie such dumb fun is all the infighting between the characters, over-the-top action sequences right out of the WWF, and awkward performances that are perfectly suited to the bad dialogue, offering plenty of humorous moments. Just the fact that the script had characters use the uncommon phrase “for all intents and purposes” THREE times throughout the course of the film adds to the unintentionally comical aspects of the film.

The nontraditional font used for opening credits was enough to catch my interest, and the first battle between the main guys and zombies told me I could expect cheesy good action throughout. There’s even an early zombie encounter that is surprisingly creepy because the zombies can speak–imitating whatever is said to them.

Then comes the good stuff. People begin dying in the safe house, and everyone suspects everyone else, which leads to plenty of confrontations between the stereotypical characters, the absolute best being when all the bitches in the place read each other to filth in the kitchen while pointing guns at one another. Naturally, there are some lesbians jabs while they’re at it.

Which reminds me, there was one dude who delivered some snarky lines at the beginning and seemed totally gay, but sadly, after the early spotlight on him, his character just fades into the background instead of playing a major part.

You finally remember you’re actually watching a zombie movie when they infiltrate the safe house in the last twenty minutes. They make funny moaning and groaning sounds when they fight the numerous burly, beefy guys in the safe house, adding to the camp factor as the film comes to a close.

Hey, I might not ever bother watching this one again, but I have no regrets about seeing it once.

INFECTED (aka: The Dead Inside) (2013)

Considering both the original title and the alternate title are generic, it’s no surprise this movie itself is paint-by-numbers. As a zombie fan, I have no problem with that as long as the film delivers the zombie goods.

While Infected has its moments, there were far too many minutes between them to keep me riveted. I can’t fathom why even the most motivated indie filmmaker would make a total retread of everything we’ve seen in bigger movies…and then drag it out for two hours. That truly is the downfall for me here.

The plot—after the outbreak, kids and military men meet up at the local high school and establish a “safe house” to live in. If you’ve watched The Walking Dead for the good part of a decade—or the uncountable number of zombie flix that have flooded the market since—you’ll guess everything that happens here: interpersonal drama, conflict, supply runs gone wrong, etc.

In between loads of dialogue there are some descent zombie scenes, as long as you’re okay with the shaky cam/quick edit style of fast running zombie movies. There’s some good gore, the zombie makeup is serviceable, and there’s even some suspense. Personally, my favorite zombie scene came 90 minutes into the film—one of those creeping through a dark building with flashlights scenes. Very effective.

The part I could have done without, which would have shaved ten minutes off the run time—not one but two montage scenes of characters killing time set to EMO tracks.

BROADCAST DEAD (2018)

The first 30 minutes of this Asian zombie film that takes place at a TV studio are so cheesy I didn’t expect much, but if you can overlook the agonizing, sappy love story accompanied by awful music, as well as the needless clips of an interviewer and martial artists discussing fighting techniques and weapons of choice, there’s definitely plenty of zombie payoff and gore.

Terrorists infiltrate the studio demanding air time or else they’ll release a deadly virus. Guess what happens accidentally…. Oops!

Honestly, annoying plot points aside, the setting and atmosphere reminded me of the best zombie moments in Romero flicks. Yes, they’re slow zombies, yes the terrorists have a ton of weapons that should guarantee they have the upper hand, but the zombies so outnumber them and surprise attack so much there’s plenty of flesh eating to satisfy.

However, I wasn’t feeling the long monologue by one character about the motivation behind spreading the virus. It closes the film and totally ruins the mood.

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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