Dave, a failed, down on his luck musician with a penchant for doing the wrong thing, volunteers to chaperone a kindergarten field trip to a popular outdoor petting zoo park attraction intent on gaining the affection of his 5-year-old nephew’s perky teacher, Miss Caroline. Also at the attraction is an American children’s’ television personality, Teddy McGiggle, travelling the world with his latest stop in Australia. All seems well and dandy until the U.S. stationed Army base adjacent to the petting zoo loses control of the highly aggressive rejuvenation test subjects and are overrun by the lemming of slow, flesh-eating zombies that stagger bit by bit toward the park’s touristy patrons. With every last living, breathing thing either turned undead or eaten to the spinal cord, Dave, Miss Caroline, and Teddy McGiggle must fight against the outbreak for not only their survival, but for the troop of young and impressionable kindergarteners thinking what’s happening is nothing more than a prolonged game of tag before the gung-ho U.S. military sanction of eradicating airstrike right on their location.
The lumbering zombie canon enjoys a delightfully endearing and rousingly tucked zom-rom comedy, “Little Monsters,” with children being the heartfelt conquerors to slay the funk the genre has been stagnantly lingering inside. Written and directed by up and coming filmmaker Abe Forsythe, the internationally collaborated production from the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia delivers a brashly funny film under the guise of long-pigged zombie horror shot primarily in Sydney, Australia at Centennial Park. Not to be confused with the Fred Savage children’s film of the same title from 1989 that also starred funny man Howie Mandel, Forsythe’s “Little Monsters’” head lopping, guts coiling, and every four letter word in the profanity bible goes to infinity and beyond the parental guidance rating.
Perfect performances all around from a dynamically intercontinental collaborative cast starting off with Lupita Nyong’o. The “Us” actress, who should have won an Oscar for her performance in the Jordan Peele film, astounds again with a delicately frank and beautifully sage performance as the alluring kindergarten teacher Miss Caroline whose number one priority is to protect her class of 5-year-olds, physically and mentally, at all costs. Counter to Miss Caroline seemingly having her stuff together, the raucously detached Dave immediate sets his whirlwind claws right into Miss Caroline, attempting to attract her with disinformation about his stable state of mind and being; however, Dave to the core is a good guy harnessed by Australian actor Alexander England (“Alien: Covenant”) who adds the rough edges around Dave’s stagnant and serrated lifestyle. Though different on the surface level, Caroline and Dave do have rooted similarities that spark romance after some convincing through zombie tribulations and scenario finesse; Nyong’o and England singe around the edge of attraction that’s goes from a seething disaster to being playfully coy and tender that works confidently on screen. When you through Josh Gad into the mix, you never know what to expect in terms of a wild card character. The “Frozen” star pulls off Olaf on hard drugs as Teddy McGiggle as Gad’s voice is unmistakably the overly friendly snowman who likes warm hugs but with a lot more F bombs and a dee seeded disgust for kids show personality that results him bedding many of his toddler fans’ moms. I wasn’t sure how Gad was going to pull off a zombie epic, but his gas-riot performance is a spiked drink compared to other who dances around the children’s innocence and the fact Teddy McGiggle is a kids show personality elevates his crude conduct to that more pungent. “Little Monsters” round out with Kat Stewart, Marshall Napier (“The Beast”), Diesel La Torraca as Felix.
The word from my inner circle of moviegoers, those who have little interest in horror and more interests in fast cars and vast explosions, say something along the lines that “Little Monsters” was “okay,” “Didn’t really do it for them,” or “I didn’t watch the last 20 minutes.” Disclaimer: These people are really not close friends, but barely colleagues, and since “Little Monsters” is being cut down by popcornist naysayers, their opinions have itty-bitty merit awarded to their poor judgement in taste of good, funny, and superbly acted eye-candy horror cinema with pocket messages of insufferable loneliness, hidden internal commonality, and the caliber in what makes us human that piece together as collectively relatable. If these aspects do not register with you, then you’re not human, but rather a 7-headed martian with tentacles and a pea-size purple brain. “Little Monsters” has some good gritty zombies at work here that juxtapose against the tender nature of children and the only thing between these children being lunch are three damaged adults searching for something meaningful. The apocalypse becomes a fork in the road, an ultimatum, that tests their worth and Aby Forsythe bombards that fateful decision with little notes of comedy, witty banter, and a clear case carnage.
“Little Monsters” takes a field trip to Blu-ray DVD home video, and digital download February 10th from UK distributor, Altitude Film Entertainment. “Little Monsters” is a production of Made Up Stories, Protagonist Pictures (“31” and “Lords of Chaos“), and Snoot Entertainment (“Dude Bro Massacre III” and “You’re Next”). Unfortunately, a DVD-R was provided for review so no audio or video quality critiques will be touched up, but the upcoming region B Blu-ray is listed as a BD-50, 1080p Full HD, and presented in the original 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio with an English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. There were no special features listed in the press release and there were none available on the DVD-R. Finding a way to harness everything sacred from the zombie genre and then creating something new, interesting, and captive from start to finish to blend is a victory melange of wall-to-wall wit and feral monsters leaves “Little Monsters” as the horror romantic comedy that has it all.
A plague has decimated the world, turning citizens into crazed, flesh eating zombies. In Germany, only two cities have survived the devastating apocalypse the last two years – Weimar and Jena. In Weimar, the infected are immediately eradicated on site without exceptions. In Jena, compassionate individuals strive for a cure for the diseased. Weimar residents, Vivi and Eva, sneak out of the authoritative camp for their own personal reasons and flee toward Jena’s safe-haven policy in hopes for a better way of life, but a perilous journey through the horde occupied Black Forest stands in between them and salvation. Without weapons, food, and one liter of water between them, chances of coming out unscathed are slim-to-none as long as nothing separates them from assisting their survival.
Based off the illustrated graphic novel of the same name written by Olivia Viewig, “Endzeit,” also known as “Ever After” in the English translation, hits the big screen in the 2018 film adaptation under the orchestration of a female, Sweden-born director Carolina Hellsgård as her sophomore feature with Viewig herself providing the script treatment. With pop culture entrenched and seemingly an extension of herself, Olivia Viewig is by trade a German cartoonist best known for her quirky “Why Cats…” series, a children’s book author, and regularly contributions to the world of Manga to which she was influenced. Viewig then turned to horror with “Endzeit” that served as a graduating studies project that earned her a University degree in 2012. The initially 72-page full-length comic became extended six years later in 2018 by a major German publisher named Carlsen and served as the basis of the script for the film about to be covered below that’s a coming-of-age film that also symbolizes passing of the torch for two young and dissimilar women scrambling between two opposing worlds with a common calamity.
Initially, “Ever After” focuses around the immense struggles of a shut-in named Vivi, a character instilled with paralyzing fear and guilt that has more or less clinically diagnoses her as an extreme agoraphobic whose been hasn’t stepped outside the last two years ever since the plague occurred. “Nothing Bad Can Happen” actress Gro Swantje Kohlhof envelopes herself as the “weakling” her character is ascribed by hardened and callous Weimar survivors, but as Kohlhof evolves Vivi’s fragile resolve into something more concrete, Kohlhof also opens a little more trait range for Vivi when she is finally pushed across the threshold of letting go her fear and guilt. Eva can be said as Vivi’s hard-bitten muse whose looking for a softer slice of life and as Eva becomes engulfed in Vivi’s massively sheltered circle by chance, the former Weimar grunt is able to crack through the hardened exterior and let someone like Vivi into be a calming force in her own anxiety riddled interior. Maja Lehrer compliments as the aggressor in an encouraging pair of diverse female characters driven by their regrettable past to never look back on it and keep moving forward to a better prospect that’ll wash their souls clean. Haired tied back tight, form-fitting mercenary-esque clothing, and a self-preserving attitude to match, Lehrer rounds Eva out well to arch her role hard when Vivi is ready to take the reins as an apocalyptic ranger of the Black Forest. In the forest, Vivi and Eva encounter a mystical being, a half-breed of sorts between living and dead, who doesn’t have a name but goes by The Gardener is played by Denmark actress Trine Dyrholm. Since “Ever After” references quite a bit about nature taking the world from man, I’d like Dyrholm represents Mother Nature as the character invites Vivi to her abundant tomato green house, a serene scenery of low-hanging fruit trees, and the character herself has vines and leaves growing out of the side of a human face and can temporary restore or extend life to a person. Vivi and Eva’s brief encounter prompt’s a change in them both that defines their destiny going forward toward Jena. The cast rounds out with minor roles from Barbara Philipp, Yuho Yamashita, Amy Schuk, Axel Warner, Muriel Wimmer, and Ute Wieckhorst.
If you’re looking for blood, “Ever After” is not that kind of zombie film that glorifies the flesh chomping violence but rather utilizes the violence as a motivator for Vivi and Eva to embark from safety, but that isn’t to say the sheer zombie terror is omitted or even diluted. The mass of running undead continues to be a force of concentrated fear with heart pounding side effects, much carried over from Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Late” and Zack Synder’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead,” and director Hellsgård seldomly relies on a crazed horde to be the mindless exploit of “Ever After’s” core message. Instead, the story clearly defines the growth and understanding Vivi and Eva as individuals and as part of something more, taught in part by their short time with The Gardener, and a highly reflective poignant past that ripples through their memory banks over and over again. Their ambitions nearly shot from existence at the beginning of the apocalypse to the start of their Black Forest voyage have found harmony in letting the past be the past by the end of the story. Once could call it a coming-of-age to see the two women elevate themselves from a place of inner turmoil and, in my opinion, the two women part of that is greatly important because “Ever After” is almost, about 95%, completely female cast driven. So, not only is the story a coming of age one, but also speaks upon self-reliance and empowerment for women.
The swotted comic of Olivia Viewig gains a visual odyssey amongst the undead catalogue with a Blu-ray release of the Das Kleine Fernsehspiel and Grown Up Films production, “Ever After,” distributed by MVDVisual and Juno Films. Stored on a BD-25 and presented in an anamorphic widescreen of it’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, “Ever After’s” 1080p full high definition image is sleek to every sensory receptor in the eye and captures the topographic thickets of Germany landscapes in grand wide angles. There is not a lot of tint work here, if any, and relies much on the luminescent and glowing beauty of natural light. The German language DTS-HD 5.1 master audio sufficiently taps into all five channels without overbearing results from zombie hordes. Instead, the focal points here discern more on the tiny tunes and tones of nature. Also included in the setup is an option for a 2.0 LCPM Stereo Audio track and English subtitles, which appear accurate but are hastily paced. Other than a static menu, the region free, 90 minute runtime release bares no special features other than the trailer. “Ever After” is an ascension from within the very weary genre oeuvre, encouraging the strength to stomach guilt and fear as important, but presently irrelevant if one wishes to change with a world that has redesigned around them.
Buitrago, Spain in 1310, Templar priests set forth on a mission, wandering the countryside to root out evil witches for torture, flogging, and eradication, but what the priests kept secret from public eye is that the village women they were apprehending were actually innocent and used as a means for sacrifice. The sadistic, malevolent priests drank the blood of their innocent victims for eternal life. Fed up with the Templar priests authority, the village men tracked them down to a gruesome end as the vowed in the throes of death to return for revenge. Buitrago, Spain in 1976, the Templar Priest, decomposed to the bone inside their tattered and dirty ceremonial robes, arise from their shallow graves with a hunger for vengeance and feed upon the flesh and blood of unsuspecting outside partygoers under the moonlight night.
Baring a thin shred of anything approximating a resemblance to Joe D’Amato’s “Erotic Night of the Living Dead” and Amando de Ossorio’s “Tombs of the Blind Dead” from the 1970’s to early 1980’s is Vick Campbell’s “The Erotic Nights of the Blind Dead. Also known as “Graveyard of the Dead” or, in it’s original language, “El Retorno de los Templarios,” is the 2007 Spanish produced throwback to the gothic and erotic ghoulish horror genre that once widely flourished through Europe and parts of South America and has, more or less, been nearly forgotten admirably for decades. “Erotic Nights of the Blind Dead” marks Campbell’s feature and script debut that blends the gothic and the erotic for an entry into the soles (or souls, perhaps?) of considerable shoes to fill and the consensus is Campell’s a size 10 trying to fill out into a size 18 wide but leaving too much wiggle room for missteps.
Campbell, also known Vick Gomez, commissions mostly a Spanish cast of the unknown variety, starting off with Eloise McNought in her breakout performance as the troubled, young Miranda who has been sexually abused by her father and has, somehow, misplaced her husband. Miranda’s backstory has an equal amount of ambiguity as the rest of the cast with bits of family melodrama to piece together her obviously distraught mental state. McNought’s a budget actress at best as she sometimes looks right at the camera in the midst of intense scenes and Campbell has a knack for upskirt scenes with McNought which feels creepy and impertinent to the story. Miranda’s the searched figure for her brother Jorge, Albert Gammond. Gammond, who had a role in Campbell’s short “Violencia gore,” has less backstory as the estranged son of the family and when he arrives to 1976 Buitrago, out of nowhere, to search for his sister, the siblings tango the enigmatic dance of who, what, when, why, and how? Gammond’s few dialogue moments are eaten up by Jorge trying to convince a distressed Miranda he’s her brother and reminding them of the childhood songs they sang as kids. Thais Buforn, Rick Gomans, Anarka de Ossorio, Dani Moreno, Anthony Gummer, Julian Santos, and Jose Teruel co-star.
“Erotic Nights of the Blind Dead” flatters being as an economic version of an Amando de Ossorio “Blind Dead” film, which centers around the vile and wretched depravities of the ghastly Templar Knights ethos and while Campbell captures the essence of the Knights and their menacing macabre presence of soiled garbs and persistence, the attention to the rest of a, literally, non-story is hastily slapped together or stuffed with cinched time wasters. The first half hour involves nothing more than Templar Priests roaming the countryside, flogging with an endless crack of a whip those who they deem dissident. The Knights’ whip must be malfunctioning as it could not rip flesh or break the souls of man until well into the lashing that mercifully warrants an edit for some bloody, but still steadfast firm, scarring and sheered rags. I felt the floggers arm and shoulder pain with such extensive beatings. Next, the majority of the second act consists of Jorge pleading with his sister Miranda to listen to him and convince her about his brotherly love and bring her back home. At this point, flashbacks of her father’s lust for her are introduced to backstory Miranda’s despair; the smoking gun catalyst finally rears a father-daughter rape-incest ugly head in act three when the Templar Knights have resurrected for blood thirsty revenge and gives some context of Miranda’s blabbering incoherency in the middle of the dry Buitrago landscape; yet, Miranda’s daddy issues hardly explain why the Templar Knights have returned at this point in time and just want the undead Knights tend to accomplish with their revenge at hand. In fact, there’s no explanation given at all…they just return and rampage. Campbell extends upon the risible execution of an Amando de Ossorio film by inverting scenes that are the same shot just in reverse, utilizing a single ambient track over and over again on multiple scenes, and countering whatever shred of terror from the Knights with an easy way out of unexplained reasoning for their befuddling demise. Almost as if Campbell didn’t know how to end his film and gave up with a snap of his fingers. Who does he think he is, Thanos!?
“Erotic Nights of the Blind Dead” lands DVD home video distribution from MVDVisul and Wild Eye Releasing on their Raw and Extreme banner. More raw, then extreme, Vick Campbell’s gleaming debut homage offers no eroticism either on the region free, 70 mintue runtime title, but, rather, lingers over incest and whipped-bloodied breasts of slim illicit pickings and suggests the title was more a ploy against “Graveyard of the Dead” to gain buys. The picture is presented in a widescreen format, but suffers from horrible color banding and severe compression issues that nearly make this title indiscernible like an aged or scores of duplication VHS transfer. The Spanish language stereo track also has flaws with speckled quality and coarse feedback at times due to bad mic placement. As aforementioned with the repetitive ambient and score tracks, range and depth do not reside with these versions of the Templar Knights that are probably inundated in a violent anguish of the same loop of rattling chains and heavy breathing. To add salt to the audio wound, the English subtitles are riddled errors such as Obbey instead of Obey or Swete instead of Sweetie. Special features include a behind-the scenes segment of ho-hum production takes, deleted scene, and Wild Eye trailers. One thing I think might be interesting is actress and executive producer Anarka de Ossorio who, I can’t confirm, might have some relation to Amando de Ossorio; the idea would be neat if his legacy still lives on through his kin. A brooding atmosphere from beginning to end, “Erotic Nights of the Blind Dead” has little else to offer under a guise to link itself to legendary Euro-trash gold, but filmmaker Vick Campbell detrimental diegesis could tarnish the very jeweled films in which he attempts to honor.
A nasty viral plague eats and decays victims from the inside out, blood oozes from every poor in the skin and boils fester, and can be transmitted through the saliva and blood. The hot zone spreads fast among the nation’s crumbling society, but one isolated clinic, the also epicenter of the disease, experiments with a cure, testing the trials on the infected. Young, wife Linda, a nurse at the clinic, goes suddenly missing and her husband gears up to search for her at the clinic to only find out that his wife has fell into the grasps of a maniacal scientist exploiting the cure as a baleful booster to create the already plagued-ridden with another side effect – extreme violence. The playing level turns increasingly difficult with maximum carnage when finding himself trapped deep inside the callous clinic straight from hell and must use any melee weapon to his advantage in each ghastly stage if he wants to save his wife from the deranged creatures and the complete governmental noxious gas eradication of the disease in the next 24 hours.
For those of us who’ve fired up a DELL computer with Radeon gaming hardware installed, sat large noise-reduction earphones over our ears, and ran a CD-ROM through the disc drive to start up a MS-DOS video game, a bit of nostalgia will revert the senses back to a more primordial time of a young gaming culture and evoke the obsessive behaviors of our adolescent selves. A game that will inherently put you into the player’s shoes with a weapon at hand and many antagonists to cut down at the whim of a mouse click as the priding first person shooter. That’s what one German filmmaker, Andreas Luetzelschwab, who goes by the credit Andreas Tom, titled his script now film project, “FPS: First Person Shooter,” that harks back to the good, yet not so old days of 8-bit blood, command cheat codes, and with a hero bestowing a snarky, snide tongue. The 2014 action-horror recalls the disk operating system gaming graphics of the early 1990s that’s been long lost and seemingly forever forgotten for nearly 20 years.
Now, since Andreas Tom’s “First Person Shooter” puts the viewer in place as the player, a BDSM gimp dressed hero ready to face the mutated virus head on. No real character takes the stage with only the voice of the iconic voice actor, Stephan Weyte, resurrecting his distinctive and black vocal quips for the player hammering away at the ghoulish zombies. Weyte’s a famous name in the world of first person shooter games being the voice of the antihero Caleb in the excessively violent and demonic “Blood” and “Blood II: The Chosen” horror inspired FPS PC games from the late 90s. Weyte’s deep, sometimes raspy, tone suits the film’s temperament much the same of those gloriously carnage cult classic PC games and he’s essentially doing all the dialogue for the film, with the exception of some in and out characters. The genetic makeup of the remaining cast are relatives of Andreas Tom, including co-producer Atlanta Lützelschwab as the attic’s nurse zombie complete with barbed wire around the eyes, Hans Lützelschwab as a boss-level surgeon zombie, and assistant director Achim Lützelschwab as the cook who whips vats of stew made of human chunks. Obviously, these are German actors being voiced with an overlay language from English speaking actors, such as Stephen Weyte, and so other vocal and action performances come from Tobias Winkler as a tall clown zombie, Sebastian Kettner, Ines Klein, Rick Whelan, Rob Banks, Jürgen Sütterlin, and Sascha Strack.
This past August, another first person shooter was reviewed, Giulio De Santi’s “Hotel Inferno,” which delivered an energetic and chaotic run amuck bloodbath that really sold the experience of playing a FPS and though “First Person Shooter” was released after, the film still provides the same kind of gun-toting, ass-kicking euphoria while on a smaller scale and focusing more on making that connection to the audience that you’re the gamer playing the game. For example, the movie begins with the DOS game’s screen of a static menu and once all your difficult settings are set and in place and the press start button is pressed, a virtual newscaster delivers the backstory of the viral outbreak and dons a principal figure, in the form of a 8-bit man, going to the clinic to search for his missing wife. The, the video game seamlessly transitions into live action, but the attributes of the game are still abound with a life bar, the gaining of objects, autosave, and disappearing bodies (that are a symptom of the virus). At the surface level comparison of “First Person Shooter” and “Hotel Inferno,” both films are akin to characterization, but differ in executions with “Hotel Inferno” just outright more violent without referring to itself outside the context of just another movie whereas the focus here is centered on video game idiosyncrasies inside that very context. The patients in developing scenes out of the virtual combat simulation ethos exhibits remarkable talent to fathom-to-fruition all the nuances like weapon caching, ominous camera angles and interpersonal communications to push the story along menacingly, and splicing the recording of level playing video with the composition of a pair of gesturing and weaponized hands to simulate that type of game play. For a loyal gamer, “First Person Shooter” bares the berserk survival horror instincts while for the loyal cinema goer, the ostentatious design is unique and graphic, even for the casual horror fan.
For the first time on US DVD home video, “First Person Shooter” is distributed by Wild Eye under the Raw & Extreme banner, the same as “Hotel Inferno,” with a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, presentation that’s clean and composed of a double recording, along with an 8-bit Wolfenstein or Doom gameplay edited in for some extracurricular slaughter activity. The colors reduced some, I’d say by 20-30%, to exact a bit of bleakness atmospherics and some details are smoothed over due exact a true video game effect, like in muzzle flashes. The English language stereo dialogue track is an obvious dub on the German made film and another good dead giveaway is that all actors have their mouths covered by surgical masks, gas masks, hockey masks, etc., but Stephen Weyte’s crystal clear derogatory comments show no sign of being muddled. The ambient track’s a little soft at times, especially with the gatling gun, that should be ripping bullets and fling casings with puncturing hundreds of holes into zombie girth. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes outtakes, a walkthrough examination of the set, composing the looming score, and trailers. Wild Eye’s illustrated DVD front cover also pays homage to Duke Nukem with a tall standing and beefy dark hero blasting holes through zombies at his feet. “First Person Shooter” markets goods sold as advertised of intense game play without the need for a single controller and without omitting one single ounce of blood to shed in this mercurial fascination of when gory cinema magic meets gory computer gaming.
Anna’s a senior at Little Haven high school whose not thinking about what University to attend after she graduates. Instead, Anna focuses on working all the time as a shoe counter girl at the local bowling alley to pay off a year’s worth of traveling despite her father’s wishes, even working through Christmas, but when a sudden zombie apocalypse derails her and the worlds’ plans, Anna’s friends and father are her first priority. With her father trapped at the high school, Anna and her closest friends must trek and battle through a horde of the undead from the bowling alley before striking out dead themselves. Despite social differences and teenage angst, they must dance and sing to put now frivolous juvenile issues aside and work together if to not become one of the living dead.
Timed just right from 2019’s Christmas holiday season is Second Sight Films’s two-disc set of “Anna and the Apocalypse,” a contagiously fun, well performed, and cheekily gory musical comedy-horror by the United Kingdom’s John McPhail directing a script written by Alan McDonald and the late Ryan McHnery, based off McHenry’s short student film “Zombie Musical.” As true to the marketing behind the film, “Anna and the Apocalypse” is certainly the “High School Musical” with teeth-gnashing, putrid-walking, and flesh hungry zombies. The Scottish bred production comes from Blazing Griffin Films, Parkhouse Productions, Constellation Creatives and Creative Scotland to flash mob dance and sing in chorus through the apocalyptic melee while figuring out their complicated adolescent troubles, such as what to do after graduation, turbulent romantic emotions, and being different and alone.
The ensemble cast is heftily made up of unknown talent beginning with, then 17 year old, Ella Hunt in her debut lead performance as the titular character. Hunt’s a fresh, young face with an astonishing amount of acting range with Anna whose defiant against the wishes of her father, but, deep down inside, still wholeheartedly cares for him as he’s her only parent left alive, and Hunt has natural poppin’ dance moves and pop-star vocals. In Anna’s core group of friends, Sarah Swire’s Steph North stands amongst them as the LGBTQ representative whose strongly portrayed as courageous, caring, and independent while her characterization at the beginning of the films focuses on downing her life to the pit of despair with parents, who Steph claims wants nothing to do with her, are on holiday in Mexico and her romantic partner won’t be spending the holiday with her. Swire’s choreographic and musician background, along with an edgy look, make her a perfect fit for Steph. There’s also Anna’s best friend, a boy named John, played by Malcolm Cummings in his first feature film. Cummings has to be the hapless friend zone boy that remains sidelined when trying to find the opportune time in expressing his true feelings for Anna, but finds himself the third wheel in a high school love triangle conscripted with Nick, a hot-to-trot prick and bully colorfully depicted by Ben Wiggins. Christopher Leveaux and Marli Siu are the gang’s love birds, Mark Benton is Anna’s custodian father, and “Game of Thrones'” Paul Kaye antagonizes with a power hungry assistant headmaster gone crazy!
Honesty, I wasn’t sure how “Anna and the Apocalypse” was going to work, or be successful, or be entertaining at all as a horror movie. Horror-musicals are a rare breed that come with a mind-boggling quantitative algorithm to make them truly work wonders and, somehow, John McPhail dusted off his abacus, powered up his TI calculator, and put note to pen to paper and delivered a holiday spectacular on a horror scale stage. The horror, though very prominent and unmistakable, takes a backseat to the powerful soundtrack by the ensemble cast, ranging from caricatured with Fish Wrap to the desolation of personal connectivity with Human Voice to a couple of Christmas satires to bring a little joy with the merry mayhem. The mayhem is absolute with all the trimmings of a zombie apocalypse, even right down to the military being the butt of a joke when they’re overrun by a slow-moving force, but while there’s some gore early on with a dead head decapitated by a see-saw and a pair of bowling balls pop the top of one alleyway corpse, the blood flows downward to a little more than a dribble and “Anna and the Apocalypse” cobbles together a mere mediocre zombie film from then on out.
Already seen a couple of standard releases from other distributors, Second Sight Films reserved “Anna and the Apocalypse” to the royal treatment with a special features heavy region B, two-disc Blu-ray set containing two versions of the film – the theatrical release cut and the extended version which will include a musical number that didn’t make the theatrical cut. The Arri Alexa SXT shot film is presented in 1080p and in the film’s original aspect ratio, a widescreen 2.37:1, with a featured ProRes 3.2k format that allows upscaling to UHD quality providing a high resolution output that’s clean and bright. The color palate has real vibrancy under the director of photography’s, Sara Deane, direction to use colorful outfits and neoned and darkened sets. Some scenes become a little choppy with some sloppy editing work, but as a whole, the story remains coherent. The English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 vivaciously energizes the soundtrack with alternative pop numbers, harmonious melodies, and a synchronized chorus, but there are times the dialogue falls into a lossy grey area. A stereo 2.0 track is also available as well as optional English SDH subtitles. The Second Sights Films’ release is chock full of extras with disc one including an audio commentary with director John McPhail, writer Alan McDonald, composers Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly, a behind-the-scenes featurette, an alternate opening scene, a deleted song “What Side Are You On?”, a deleted bathroom scene, the Hollywood Ending cast and crew lip dub, footage from the EdinBurgh Film Festival, and, of course outtakes. Disc two includes a brand new feature-length documentary with new interviews by the actors and filmmakers. Plus, the original short film – “Zombie Musical.” A definite definitive two-disc set from Second Sight Films goes hand-in-hand with “Anna and the Apocalypse’s” feel good charm and unruly undead charisma complete with catchy tunes and bloody zombie goons in a modern day holiday cult classic.