SHAUN OF THE DEAD. (2004) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

SHAUN OF THE DEAD. (2004) DIRECTED BY EDGAR WRIGHT. WRITTEN BY EDGAR WRIGHT AND SIMON PEGG.

STARRING SIMON PEGG, NICK FROST, KATE ASHFIELD, PENELOPE WILTON, BILL NIGHY, DYLAN MORAN, LUCY DAVIS, PETE SERAFINOWICZ AND JESSICA STEVENSON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Motherfucker…

Don’t forget to kill Phil!

The front door is open. AGAIN…!

We’re coming to get you, Barbara!

Shaun to Ed- D’you want anything from the shop?

Ed- Cornetto.

Bill Nighy’s character on being bitten by a zombie- I ran it under the cold tap.

This is my kids’ favourite movie of all time, and yet I resisted watching it until recently, if you can believe it, because I’m such a film snob, mostly preferring ‘pure’ horror to spoofs-slash-horror comedy. But SHAUN OF THE DEAD is bloody brilliant!

It’s the warmest, cuddliest most feelgood zombie film ever written, despite the lashings of gore and violence, and it left me with such a good (hot?) fuzzy feeling inside that I immediately wanted to write about it and tell the whole world my opinion of a seventeen-year-old movie, lol. Talk about late to the bleedin’ party!

The first film in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (HOT FUZZ (2007) and THE WORLD’S END (2013), it was based on such films as George A. Romero’s own trio of classic zombie movies, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) and DAY OF THE DEAD (1985).

It tells the story of Shaun, marvellously played by Simon Pegg, a twenty-nine-year-old Londoner who works in a shit job selling electrical goods. His girlfriend Liz is breaking up with him because she thinks he’s immature and never wants to do anything different or go anywhere new. As he spends every night in the Winchester pub with his soulmate, his bezzie mate Ed (played by an equally wonderful Nick Frost), this accusation might just be true.

Shaun hates his step-dad, the mild-mannered Philip (Bill Nighy), and is always fighting with his mum Barbara (Penelope Wilton) because of this. He also hates Liz’s mate David (David’s a twat!), one half of the couple David-and-Dianne, and he’s not getting on with his housemate Pete, because Pete thinks that Shaun and Ed are a couple of losers who waste their time on the Playstation or down the Winchester.

So, you see, by the time the Zombie Apocalypse begins, Shaun has been made to feel really bad about his life by Other People. I say Other People, because Shaun and Ed were both perfectly happy about the nice comfortable rut they were in before the Apocalypse (Ed still is!) until Other People started sticking their oars in.

But the Apocalypse, which the horribly hungover Shaun and Ed are quite slow to recognise for what it is, might just provide Shaun, whose pens have had the utterly banal bad taste to leak through the pocket of his white, short-sleeved work shirt, with a golden opportunity to display the proactive leadership skills that have hitherto lain dormant in his nature.

Can he win back Liz’s love (and, let’s face it, they’re perfick for each other) while simultaneously saving her, his mum, his step-dad, his bezzie mate Ed and David-and-Dianne as well from the Zombie Apocalypse? Will the previously reviled Winchester provide the gang, after all, with the fortress-like security they need to keep them safe from the onslaught of slavering zombies? It’s all to play for, folks.

Highlights include Shaun and Ed having a deadly serious conversation in the middle of a zombie attack about which records to chuck- or not to chuck- at the shambling, slobbering brain-dead brain-munchers, and the gang nipping over garden fences trying to get to the Winchester before the zombies do and discovering their friend Yvonne (played by the brilliant Jessica Stevenson, aka Cheryl from THE ROYLE FAMILY) leading an exactly parallel group to their own one but in a different direction.

The parallel group, though they don’t get to say much, features well-known comedy actors such as Matt Lucas (LITTLE BRITAIN), Reece Shearsmith (THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN), Martin Freeman (NATIVITY, THE HOBBIT) and Tamsin Greig (BLACK BOOKS, alongside its writer-creator Dylan Moran).

I also love that ordinary normal people like ourselves are portrayed as zombies as we go through the frequently mind-numbingly boring motions of everyday life. No wonder people like Liz sometimes yearn for a complete change of scene or direction, or even of watering-hole. Just to do something a little bit different, for once! We’ve all felt that on occasion, all been there.

I also love that scene in the garden where Shaun and Ed think the zombie lady is merely another Sunday morning still-drunk hangover victim, and also the sheer normal-ness of the Asian-run corner shop and the perfectly ordinary street where they live.

The separate scenes between Shaun and his step-dad, in which Bill Nighy as Philip tries touchingly to impart how tough it is to be a dad, never mind a step-dad, and also between Shaun and his lovely mumsy mum, are part and parcel of what gives SHAUN OF THE DEAD its enormous heart.

But the central love has got to be between, not Shaun and Liz, although they undoubtedly do love each other, but Shaun and Ed, his best friend. They love each other the way only real, true best friends can love each other, and each of their two final scenes together in the film had me in floods of tears.

I was laughing more than I was crying, though, because the comedy in the film is seriously well-written. Nearly two decades after it was conceived, penned and committed to celluloid, I finally get to watch it. And pronounce it practically perfick.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

#ALIVE. (2020) A NETFLIX KOREAN ZOMBIE MOVIE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

#ALIVE. (2020) BASED ON ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, #ALONE, BY HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER MATT NAYLOR. DIRECTED BY CHO IL-HYUNG. STARRING YOO AH-IN AND PARK SHIN-HYE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ll probably be fed to the lions for saying this, given that this is a very popular film that’s currently getting good reviews, but I was bored brainless by this Netflix Korean zombie apocalypse movie, and I normally love Korean horror. It’s a bit like TRAIN TO BUSAN, but set in one guy’s apartment as he tries to withstand the aforementioned zombie apocalypse all on his lonesome.

Joon-Woo is the main character. He’s a young male with bleached blonde hair, living in an apartment in Seoul with his parents and sister. He is a video game live streamer. I looked this up. It means that he plays video games while watched online by a live audience. Surely the only thing worse than playing a video game yourself is watching someone else play one.

And I’m not entirely sure about this bit, but I think that the whole notion of people ‘subscribing’ to your ‘Youtube channel’ means that they actually pay you for the privilege of watching you play your long boring game for as long as it takes. This seems strange and alien to me. The people who do this must be nuts.

Also, do you earn enough money to live on doing this? Can you stay home in your apartment every day, making enough moolah from this live streaming malarkey to ensure that you don’t have to go to work in a shop, office or factory every day? I’m clearly in the wrong business…

Certainly, our so-called ‘hero’ Joon-Woo doesn’t look like the kind of guy who works for a living in the traditional sense, what with all the time he spends asleep on the couch, only shifting his carcass to eat, drink or go online.

Anyway, Joon-Woo wakes up one morning to find his family out, going about their usual business, and a horrible viral infection taking hold of the population of Seoul.

Marauding hordes of ‘infected’ zombies are running amok, trying to bite and eat the uninfected. He can see all this happening quite clearly from his window, and the advice from the News is to ‘stay home to stay safe.’ Remind you of anything, lol?

The film is strangely prophetic, in a way, foreshadowing the coronavirus pandemic and the Lockdown the way it does. If we’ve had one message drilled into us this year, it’s to ‘stay home to stay safe,’ and avoid the deadly virus that lurks menacingly outside our doors and is just waiting for a chance to permeate our strongholds and fortresses and make us sick.

Joon-Woo is short of food, water and Internet and phone access, the basics of life, although he does manage to post a message asking for help on social media, a message which will ultimately prove to be of the utmost importance.

With the help of Yoo-Bin, a really boring but ballsy girl his own age who lives in the apartment block opposite his and with whom he makes a connection, Joon-Woo battles the zombies which threaten his and his new friend’s existence.

I just found the zombie bits so mindlessly boring. When I was watching the infected creatures do their crazy, foaming-at-the-mouth thang, I wasn’t seeing them as real zombies (as I would have if I’d been watching George Romero or Sam Raimi) but as movie extras who’d had to sit in a chair for hours getting their scary slap trowelled on by a make-up artist.

I even found myself wondering if they had the make-up removed before they finished up for the day, or if they rode the subway home to their spouses and kids with the blood and guts still on their shirt-fronts and all around their mouths and in their teeth. I lost interest in the film completely, wondering about the daily lives of the extras, lol.

Also, the film is way too technology-heavy, a big no-no for me, and the guy’s bleached blonde buzzcut never grew out during the month or so he was in ‘Lockdown.’

And he should have been in the early stages of starvation as well, seeing as the script sees him more or less foodless at the start of the zombie outbreak, but the film shows no unpleasant realities of this kind, just the marauding mindless zombies, mindlessly marauding away all through the ninety minutes.

The most extraordinary thing for me about the film was learning that people will actually let other people pay them to watch them play a video game, and that the other people will willingly hand over the cash for this, even though no-one’s forcing them or holding a gun to their head. (That’s the only way they could get me to do this, I’m telling you that for nothing.)

My kids tell me that this is what young ‘uns do with their lives now; just stay home all day and be YouTubers or live streamers. When I was a young ‘un, streamers were something you threw around the place at a party or a parade.

The world we live in now is a strange and scary place. Some of the developments in modern technology I quite enjoy, such as being able to ‘catch up’ on a TV show I missed by using something called the ‘player,’ but that’s about as far as I’ve gone, technology-wise. Sorry to end on a massive downer, guys, but I genuinely fear for all of our futures.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. (1964) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

lastMANonEARTH

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. (1964) BASED ON THE 1954 NOVEL ‘I AM LEGEND’ BY RICHARD MATHESON. DIRECTED BY UBALDO RAGONA AND SIDNEY SALKOW. STARRING VINCENT PRICE, FRANCA BETTOIA, EMMA DANIELI AND GIACOMO ROSSI-STUART. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Come out, Morgan…!’

(It’s September 2019 and I’ve just finished reading Richard Matheson’s superb short horror novel ‘I AM LEGEND,’ the kind of book I still haven’t given up hope on writing myself one day. Not necessarily about a vampiric apocalypse, but on any horror topic that grabs me.

Books like PSYCHO, ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE EXORCIST, JAWS, A KISS BEFORE DYING, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, CARRIE, PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS and THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS provide huge, huge inspiration. A book like that that lives on after you die, that people never get tired of reading or watching in film format, is probably most horror writer’s ultimate goal.

Anyway, the book I AM LEGEND was adapted so faithfully by the film THE LAST MAN ON EARTH that I felt there would be no need to bother you good people with two reviews, one for the book and one for the film. Instead, I’m choosing to share again the review I wrote for THE LAST MAN ON EARTH back in 2016, the year I discovered it for the first time.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I think this might actually be the best film that horror icon Vincent Price ever made, even though his numerous horror movies for Roger Corman in their Edgar Allan Poe cycle were all beyond fantastic.

It’s just such a grimly bleak and realistic performance he gives in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH that you get to see his ability to really act, as well as his undoubted talent for hamming it up in a doublet and tights, lol. So here we go, anyway, and I hope you enjoy it. ‘Come out, Neville…!’)

This is a brilliant sci-fi horror film from the era that brought us loads of equally great sci-fi horror films. Yep, it sure was a good era for the old sci-fi horror…! I came across it on a box-set I bought back in 2013 for only a tenner called 100 GREATEST HORROR CLASSICS. One hundred old horror movies for only ten quid? Hell, yeah…!

Other films on the set include THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, both starring Lon Chaney Sr., George A. Romero’s zombie classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS and Alfred Hitchcock’s first ever movie, THE LODGER, starring Ivor Novello. Yes, I think it’s that Ivor Novello; who else could it be…?

Anyway, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH manages to be both brilliant and extremely grim at the same time. Horror icon Vincent Price plays Dr. Robert Morgan, a man who has survived a terrible wind-borne plague that’s killed off nearly everyone on earth, except for those whom it turned into bloodthirsty vampiric mutations. These monstrosities become active at night. During the day, they sleep…

Poor old Robert spends the daylight hours tracking down the mutants and staking them through the heart before chucking ’em in a giant pit of fire. Well, I guess he just wants to be sure they’re really dead. Fair enough, lol.

At night, he holes himself up in his gaff while the pathetically weak vampires, including his former work colleague Ben Cortman, bang on his door and beg him feebly to come out so that they can kill him and drink his blood. Naturally, Robert declines this delightful offer. Maybe he likes his blood where it is. I’d be the same myself…!

In any case, his existence as literally the last man on earth is so bleak that the viewer wonders why he doesn’t just end his own life and be done with it. Maybe he’s afraid that he’ll become one of the Walking Un-Dead like the monstrous mutations he grapples with every day and night. Also, we mustn’t forget that the instinct for survival is very strong. There’s always the chance/hope that things might, one day, return to normal. That’s what keeps us going when times are tough.

One miraculous day, however, while out doing his ’rounds,’ Dr. Morgan spies a sight that he never expected to see again; a human female! Is she real? Is she infected with the plague that turned the mutants into the bloodsucking demons they’ve become? And, most importantly, how will this seemingly chance encounter impact upon the already stressed-out Dr. Morgan…?

I think that this film works so well because it taps into those fears we all secretly have. You know, the ones about being one of the sole survivors of some kind of apocalyptic disaster that leaves us on our own battling against zombies and mutants? I’ve always had that fear at the back of my own mind, anyway.

There’s this horrible scenario I think about sometimes where I’m alone in my house in just such a post-apocalyptic situation as we’ve discussed and a mis-shapen shadow suddenly falls across my window. Then I hear a scrabbling at the door. I stay perfectly still but the noise continues. Then there’s the unmistakable sound of someone breaking in… It’s all very ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS (Lucio Fulci), isn’t it?

Another thing that scares people is the thought of a plague or pandemic that wipes out half the world’s population. We’ve had worrisome thoughts like that about different epidemics over the decades: AIDS, swine flu, avian flu and the Ebola virus, to name a few. I’ve literally just read online, actually, about something called the ‘Zika virus.’

It’s not outside the bounds of possibility that something like a plague/pandemic could happen. That’s why films like OUTBREAK, QUARANTINE and RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR are so popular. It’s because, one day, it might just happen here…

I think THE LAST MAN ON EARTH must have been the inspiration for that TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode of THE SIMPSONS in which Homer Simpson becomes ‘the last man on earth’ after a nuclear bomb wipes out most of the rest of the world. He isn’t remotely bothered by being surrounded by rotting corpses. He actually enjoys having the world to himself for a bit, haha. Until he finds himself being chased by freakish skin-eating mutants, that is…!

Vincent Price puts his heart and soul into his performance as the poor beleaguered Dr. Robert. Did I mention that I met his daughter Victoria Price in November 2015, by the way? I do try to mention that quite regularly, lol. She was having a meet-and-greet at the Irish Film Institute here in Dublin to promote the cookery book her dear old dad co-wrote with her mum and she was absolutely lovely and down-to-earth.

I chose to buy her biography of her dad, though, rather than the cookery book. It was a real whopper of a coffee-table book and it cost an even more whopping sixty quid…! Quite honestly, I’m not much of a Nigella Lawson, anyway. I prefer to spend as little time in the kitchen as I can get away with.

The flashback scenes in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH are excellent and the scenes with the puppy are just heartbreaking. The fact that the film is in black-and-white highlights the starkness of Dr. Robert’s awful situation. If you want to see how he copes with things, watch the film. It’s superb. And don’t answer the door after dark under any circumstances. It might be the mutants…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor