Evil Zombies Inherit the Earth! “Zombieworld” review!

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A deadly virus turns the world’s living population into a hoard of fleshing-eating, brain-devouring, gut-munching zombies and KRPS anchor Marvin Gloat bravely remains on the airwaves reporting the walking dead incidents from all over the globe until his very last breath. “Zombieworld” delivers an undead collection, glorified in gore, vicious in violence, and surely necessary for the human survival in a zombie inhabited world. From Canada to Australia and from the United States to Spain, the tales of the risen dead relentlessly show no mercy with no holds barred on the bloodletting.
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From RLJ Entertainment and Image Entertainment comes “Zombieworld” onto home DVD video from the United Kingdom and for all you zombie apocalypse nuts out there, “Zombieworld” will be your handbook guide through the trying times. “Zombieworld” is the epic storytelling of various zombie-related accounts from several countries directed by young and fresh talent who bring a blood bathed new take on a seriously soaked genre. The 11 narratives are unique in their own rite, but share a common horror-comedy element with the exception of a couple of segments. While internet researching on “Zombieworld,” my curiosity got the better of me and I wander onto other review sites to see what my peers’ opinions are about the collection of shorts and to my surprise, the reviews and opinions are fairly negative as the reviewers take in the collection as a whole that’s being glued together by an outer story segment. This style relates similarly to the V/H/S or HI-8: Horror Independent Eight’s way of conveying multiple short films with the outer-storying being their commonality.
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In fairness, yes, the outer-story does come off a bit cheesy especially with the animated zombies that resembles the Dire Strait music video “Money for Nothing,” but my main man Bill Oberst Jr. doesn’t disappoint as anchor man Marvin Gloat and his slow transition into one of the undead masses as he continues to report world incidences. However, my interests lie mainly with the girth of “Zombieworld” and what better way to start off the tale-telling by going head first right into an intense first-person take of “Dark Times” where a nuclear plant meltdown causes panic, extreme chaos, a heartless military response, and, of course, rampaging zombies! Bits of comedy come about with a zombie Santa, a golf-club wielding family, and ends with a stellar, monstrous finale that leaves you hanging for your own interpretation!
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One of my favorite shorts is the sacrilegious short “Fist of Jesus” directed by David Muñoz and Adrián Cardona. Jesus fights off undead acolytes, Romans, and, uh, cowboys in a gory old Peter Jackson type way and then some. The non-stop comedy and blood translates over to Muñoz’s and Cardona’s other short “Brutal Relax” along with a third co-director Rafa Dengrá. “Brutal Relax” awards itself as the grand finale of “Zombieworld” and rightfully so by being just as bloody as “Fist of Jesus” yet bringing in tons more comedy especially from lead actor José María Angorrilla who portrays a large and uptight, angry-issued ridden man needing of a vacation which becomes interrupted by sea-dwelling zombie-like creatures that rip apart the beach goers.
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There are segments that pay respects to other zombie-related medias such as Resident Evil. The Vedran Marjanovic Wekster directed “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” are informative shorts that refer to a welcome to sign for Raccoon City and any self-respecting horror fan knows, Raccoon City is a big part of the Resident Evil series where all the Umbrella Corporation hijinks go down. “Teleportal,” helmed by Paul Shrimpton, also pays homage to another video game series that is first person shooter entitled House of the Dead. Forget Uwe Boll’s mess of a film and go for the throat of this short that sucks in a gun-toting controlling player through his television set and right into the zombie attack that contains an ironic and spectacular game-over ending.
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Though many of the segments are inspirational, “Zombieworld” does contain some originality. The Aussie-born Cameron McCulloch directed “Home” starring a lovely Jamie McDowell contains no dialogue, but conveys the rough time McDowell’s character goes through with the loss of her fiance who she has chained up. Her loss is so tremendous that she is unsure on how to use her last remaining bullet – will she kill her fiance’s corpse or will she kill herself? The Irish horror-comedy “I Am Lonely,” directed by Phil Haine, follows an naive and annoying young man named Chris living in a zombie overrun town who comes home to his apartment and finds his friend Steve has been fatally injured. As Chris dim wittingly spills out all the absurdities he’s done to Steve, Steve’s injury isn’t solely zombie-related and that’s where things get interesting. Also, an American film entitled “Certified” is not necessarily a zombie short, but only implies to the undead. Luke Guidici directs Rebecca Spicher as young Alice who tells the grim tale of her uncle and cousin’s mind shaft demise to a gullible new mailman that nearly scares him right out of his USPS uniform.
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Lastly, some shorts follow a more heart-pounding scenario. For example, “Dead Stop” by director Tommy Woodard is a CCTV shot short that has a police officer pulling up on a frantic woman who is trying to save her bitten husband. The scene grows more intense when the husband turns on his wife. Realistically surreal with well acting completes this short and fits right in with the “Zombieworld” collective. Another intense short with a synonym-like title is the first person view of “Dead Rush” directed by Zachary Ramelan. The viewers embody a man waking up in a bathroom with dead bodies and blood everywhere and we follow his, and two others’, journey as he wields an axe through a mass of the undead. Things get serious when our hero becomes part of the dead ranks from being gut-ripped opened and devoured!

In all, I’m pleasantly pleased with how the Ruthless Pictures and Dread Central produced “Zombieworld” brought in little-to-unknown talent and showcased their short features that awesomely fit into the highly entertaining category and bites ferociously into being one of the best zombie DVD releases of the year! The RLJ Entertainment and Image DVD release cover is colorfully detailed with the best intention on not taking itself too seriously, but feels eerily similar to other notable covers such as “Faces of Death” or Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds.” The specs include a widescreen 16:9 transfer with Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. Since this is a mixed bag of films, the clarity of presentations vary, but I can tell you that most shorts are sharp and clean looking with with no distortions in image or audio. Some of the night scenes in “Home” or “Marathon Apocalypse” have some digital interference that won’t ruin your viewing pleasure. The overall recommendation is to pick this undead puppy up and dive into a whole new world of talented horror directors and I’m positive that your blood lust won’t go unquenched!

Evil Terrestrials and Their Toys! “The Device” review!

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After years of being distant from each other, Abby and Rebecca reunite at their isolated family cabin to release the ashes of their recently deceased mother into the nearby lake. They stumble upon what seems to be a crash site of sorts and come into possession of a small sphere object. The sphere has become the object of Abby’s husband’s obsession and Abby starts to have nightmares of weird beings experimenting on her body. When Calvin becomes withdrawn and Abby learns she’s pregnant, Rebecca reveals her beyond the stars tale of why she’s kept her distance away from her sister and from their family cabin. A tale of abduction and unwanted incubation.

The Invoking” director Jeremy Berg has carefully constructed a film where the characters actually feel human. What I mean by this is that the characters don’t feel overly transcribed and built up to a point where their on screen personas are unbelievable and stereotyped. Abby (Angela DiMarco) and her husband Calvin (David S. Hogan) just work and come home while Abby’s sister Rebecca (Kate Alden) just lounges around the house as a guest and this feels more like normal life and gives a big sense of reality to this little sci-fi film. When the other world beings do make an appearance, whether in Abby’s nightmares or in the finale act, their presence thrilling disrupts the normality.
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The alien creature by the Killer Makeup FX company does a not too shabby job on the suit for actor Gabriel Congdon as The Visitor. Congdon’s simplistic take on the alien doesn’t draw too much attention to, at times, the bit of costume cheesiness that oozes out especially when the alien hand bangs against the window of Abby’s house. However, I’m still very pleased with the outcome and the Visitor’s amount of screen time strives toward their anonymity that works well within the patiently paced story.
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The story itself is nothing audiences haven’t experienced before. “The Device’ strikes familiarities with other more well-known films such as “Fire in the Sky,” “Astronaut’s Wife,” and even a little with the medieval fantasy film “The Lord of the Rings.” I keep imagining David S. Hogan’s, who delivered a strong performance and showed off some good acting chops through most of the film, character Calvin caressing the black sphere and gargling, “my precious;” he certainly has the face to make a great Golum. Also, where other critics might believe “The Device’s” pace is too slow, some might find the steady pace to be a nice build up, deconstructing character personas and removing their humanity and morphing them into meager savages. However, what really kills the film’s fairly solid structure is the ambiguous and confusing ending that would make the previous first two acts nullified.
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I do appreciate the special appearance by Russell Hodgkinson who plays Doc on “Z-Nation” and I do appreciate, on a more serious note, the effort that went into “The Device.” With that last remark, I can’t help but to think that some scenes could have been reshot to omit movie making mistake thus placing “The Device” on a higher pedestal. For example, when Abby and Calvin are at the isolated cabin and their having a heart-to-heart talk outside on the deck, you can obviously see a car with it’s lights on driving in the background and this absolutely ruins the authenticity of the scene.
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“The Device” won’t knock your socks off for it’s a basic sci-fi alien feature where subtlety is key, but this epitomizes indie filmmaking and we can’t take for granted that all films are not made equal. “The Device” is about obsession, it’s about facades, it’s about lack of communication; basically, the device itself is a metaphor for all that could be what’s wrong within a relationship whether it’s between two lovers or two families and I think that’s where “The Device” gets it correct without making a huge splash with the sci-fi material.