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Kill Zombie! (Blu-ray / DVD)



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Kill Zombie! (Blu-ray / DVD)Directed by Martijn Smits and Erwin van den Eshof

Starring Yahya Gaier, Mimoun Ouled Radi, Gigi Ravelli

Distributed by Well Go USA Entertainment

If there’s one cinematic staple of horror that needs to be put back into the grave, it’s the zombie film. The ubiquity of the undead permeates every facet of our culture. They’re in movies, television shows, commercials, viral videos, video games… everywhere. It’s exhausting, and frankly, the trend needs to go away for a good while. Few films, if any, are bringing anything new to the table. And, really, how could you? Some don’t even bother with an origin for the outbreak at all anymore. Does it even matter?

While the trend is exasperated and at the edge of death in major cinematic markets (read: U.S. and U.K.), there are some foreign lands that are trying to get in on the craze despite being late to the party. And not even fashionably late; this is, “Hey, wanna see a new Harlem Shake video?” late. The Netherlands is one such country. Watching Kill Zombie! (2012, and a sure contender for worst title of the year), one has to wonder if the Dutch just now got the films of Edgar Wright in their country. It is more than apparent directors Martijn Smits and Erwin van den Eshof were heavily influenced by Wright’s work, specifically both Shaun of the Dead (2004) and, to a lesser degree, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010). This isn’t necessarily that bad of a thing; there are certainly far worse directing styles to ape. The film’s biggest issue is that it all feels like old hat – been there, seen that.

Our story takes place in Amsterdam-West, following the mundane life of Aziz (Yahya Gaier), an invisible office worker who finds himself out of a job and feeling depressed. He decides to attend a party with his brother and best bud, Mo (Mimoun Ouled Radi), who is a bit of a loudmouth. His shenanigans wind up drawing the attention of some local thugs, who decide to pick a fight with the duo. All four men wind up in jail, but just as soon as they arrive so does a Russian space station, entering the atmosphere and crashing down atop one of the tallest buildings in town. The result: immediate zombies. Seriously, a city full of these things springs up in no time.

Aziz and the men break out of jail, along with the district’s top hot cop, Kim (Gigi Ravelli), who proves more than adept at handling herself. With most of the police station’s armory raided, the group settles on using standard office supplies for weaponry. The best weapon of all goes to one of the thugs, who gets his fat fingers caught in a bowling ball, so he just uses his new “hand” to smash zombie brains.

So now what? Aziz has a plan to rescue a woman he’s got a crush on, someone he went on exactly one sort-of date with earlier that week. She’s trapped in a building across town, and on this heroic notion the group sets out to battle hordes of the undead… all in the name of potential love.

Kill Zombie! is as unoriginal as its title, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, too. The film truly does play like a Dutch clone of Edgar Wright deciding to redo Shaun of the Dead with trappings of his other pictures tossed in for good measure. During one scene later on, one of the group members fights a zombie Mortal Kombat style with on-screen health bars and all. There are also a few nods to other popular American films, most notable a scene pulled straight from Pulp Fiction (1994). With so many zombie films coming out these days that lack both style and substance, it’s at least commendable that this one is trying to do something entertaining. The plot is secondary to the visuals, no question. Although, I will say the story gets some serious props for turning the typical “rescue a loved one in distress” angle on its head once Aziz and co. arrive at their destination.

Horror fans who have been hungry (no pun intended) for some fresh meat in the zombie subgenre will find Kill Zombie! to be an easy watch. It’s full of action, entertaining, and never for a second does it take itself too seriously. Even the humor translates well, as the Dutch are known for biting, acerbic wit with a good dose of gallows humor thrown in for good measure. The title and absolutely atrocious cover art will immediately be off-putting to most that come across it, but better films have been marketed more poorly than this. The foreign horror scene has been steadily gracing the States with a number of exciting, inventive properties, and while Kill Zombie! isn’t the most original film to hit our shores, it’s definitely a good time. And nobody can fault it for trying to be just that.

There’s very little fault in the film’s 2.35:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image, which is virtually perfect. The picture features phenomenally razor-sharp crispness and a multitude of fine details, allowing for crystal clarity in facial close-ups, clothing textures, and background elements. Colors look accurate and well saturated, and black levels are rich and inky. The astute cinematography imbues the image with a great level of depth, adding dimensionality to both foreground and background objects. There’s no grain to be seen here, which lets the pristine HD visuals take center stage with no interference. All in all, this is a damn fine image that makes full use of Blu-ray’s capabilities.

If you thought the picture was stellar, just wait until your system gets a load of the film’s Dutch DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track (48kHz/24-bit). This track packs a serious punch, excelling on all fronts thanks to a boisterous array of sound effects, fantastic separation and directionality, and an LFE track that thunders with bombastic presence. Every on-screen hit has a real weight to it, allowing for some impressive immersion. The score, composed by Matthijs Keiboom and Martijn Schimmer, runs the gamut of styles, changing up frequently to suit the mood of each scene. Sometimes it’s whimsical, sometimes it’s intense, other times triumphant, and it’s always working tirelessly to provide the right atmosphere to heighten emotions. Rear speakers come into play constantly, effectively communicating on-screen dynamics as well as off-screen violence. The disc also includes a Dutch DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 option. Subtitles are available in English.

The only bonus feature is the film’s trailer in HD.

Special Features:

  • Trailer

    The Film:

    3 out of 5

    Special Features:

    1/2 out of 5

    Discuss Kill Zombie! in the comments section below!

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    Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions



    Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa

    Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

    Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

    During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.

    Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).

    What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.

    While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.

    Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.

    While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.

    With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.

    • Before We Vanish


    Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.

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    Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On



    Starring Mike C. Manning, Griffin Freeman, Ryan Pinkston

    Directed by Johnny Martin

    When will these testosterone-overloaded frat bros with cameras ever learn that pissing off the evil souls of the departed all in the name of amusement won’t get you anywhere but wrecked? Same goes for filmmakers: when will they learn that found-footage exploits set in a house of pure sadism are something of a wrung-out affectation? Oh well, as long as people keep renting them, they’ll continue to get manufactured…which might or might not be to the benefit of the horror film-watching populous.

    Delirium opens with a poor lad, strapped with a GoPro, running for his life through a labyrinth of haunted territory, praying for an escape…and it’s a foregone conclusion as to what happens to this trespassing individual. We then relocate our focus towards a collection of (ahem), “gentlemen” self-titled as The Hell Gang, and their escapades are about as profound as their grasp on the English language and its verbiage. The words “dude”, creepy”, and the term “what the fuck” are thrown about so much in this movie it’ll make your head spin to the point of regurgitation. Anyway, their interest in the home of the Brandt clan is more piqued now than ever, especially considering one of their own has gone missing, and they’ve apparently got the gonads to load up the cameras, and traverse the property after-hours, and against the warnings of the local law-enforcement, who surprisingly are just inadequate enough to ignore a dangerous situation. The cursed family and the residence has quite the illustrious and bleak history, and it’s ripe for these pseudo-snoopers to poke around in.

    Usually I’m curb-stomping these first person POV movies until there’s nothing left but a mash of blood, snot and hair left on the cement, but Martin’s direction takes the “footage” a little bit outside of the box, with steadier shots (sometimes) and a bit more focus on the characters as they go about their business. Also, there are a few genuinely spooky scenes to speak of involving the possession of bodies, but there really isn’t much more to crow about, as the plot’s basically a retread of many films before it, and with this collection of borderline-douches manning the recording equipment, it’s a sad state of affairs we’re in that something such as this has crept its way towards us all again. I’m always down for jumping into a cold grave, especially when there could be a sweet prize to be dug up in all that dirt, but Delirium was one of those movies that never let you find your footing, even after you’ve clawed your way through all of the funereal sediment – take a hard pass on this one.


    • Film


    Got about a half-dozen bros with cameras and a wanton will to get slaughtered on camera, all the while repetitively uttering the same phrases all damn day long? Then my friends, you’ve got yourself a horror movie!

    User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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    Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility



    Starring Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Yuki Kaji, Tomokazu Sugita

    Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita

    The Godzilla series is the longest-running franchise in cinema history. With over 30 films over a 60+ year career, the famous kaiju has appeared in video games, comic books, TV shows, and more, cementing its place as one of the most recognizable cultural icons in the past 100 years. With Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, the titular beast makes its foray into the world of anime in this first film in a proposed trilogy. While there are moments that are genuinely thrilling, the film unfortunately fails to capture the imagination and wonder that is at its fingertips.

    The story is quite simple: Earth is under attack by swarms of various kaiju who are wreaking havoc across the planet. Entire cities are being destroyed when Godzilla appears to vanquish humanity’s foes. Unfortunately, the King of the Monsters isn’t really there to help humans and its rampage continues until a race of alien beings arrive at Earth asking for a place to stay in exchange for defeating Godzilla. When they are unable to do that, the remaining humans board a giant spaceship to venture off into space in search of a new home only to come back some 20 years later, nearly 20,000 years later by Earth time (think Interstellar logic), to search for resources and, possibly, a planet that will welcome them once again. However, Godzilla is still around and isn’t keen on sharing.

    The main character of the film is Haruo Sakaki, a young man who begins the film by nearly following through on a suicide bomber terrorist act that is meant to call attention to humanity’s loss of vision and failure to fulfill their mission of finding a suitable home for the remaining survivors. Even though he is accosted and jailed for this act, he is eventually freed when people realize that his lifelong passion of killing Godzilla is the foundation for research he’s done in finding a way to take down the creature…a plan that just might work. The other characters are so forgettable that I forgot their names during the film.

    From there, the film essentially pivots into following a massive team of volunteers who land on Earth’s surface to lay a trap for Godzilla in order to destroy it. Since this is Earth 20,000 years after they left, the flora and fauna have evolved and changed so radically that the team have no idea what to expect or how to react, so caution is a must.

    The problem with this is that while the characters have to be cautious, the film doesn’t nor should it. The movie has the chance to explore the wealth of imaginative opportunities at its fingertips and yet does almost everything it can to avoid doing just that. The color scheme is flat and uninteresting. The character movements lack smoothness and the action sequences fall victim to shaky cam syndrome. There are a few mentions of some of the changes that have taken place on the planet, such as razor sharp plants, but they’re so incidental or offhand that it feels like no one making the film has any interest in seeing anything other than man against beast.

    Speaking of this dynamic, the action sequences are quite entertaining but also feel somewhat reserved. Godzilla barely moves and much of the destruction levied against the humans is seen from a distance, apart from an attack on a military outpost by dragon-like creatures. For nearly the entire film, I found myself thinking, “I’m okay with this but that’s about it.

    The brightest moment in the film are the last few minutes and I won’t spoil what happens. Suffice it to say that it definitely has me interested in the second and third films but I really hope that this new world will be explored further in those entries. Otherwise, we’ve got a fascinating foundation that will be squandered.

    • Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters


    Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is a bland entry in a trilogy that has great potential. For a first course, there’s a distinct lack of flavor or complexity. The final minutes are the only saving grace and I hope that the second and third films make use of that grand wonder.

    User Rating 5 (1 vote)
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