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.

WHITE ZOMBIE. (1932) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

white zombie bela closeup

WHITE ZOMBIE. (1932) BASED ON THE 1929 NOVEL BY WILLIAM SEABROOK, THE MAGIC ISLAND. DIRECTED BY VICTOR HALPERIN AND PRODUCED BY EDWARD HALPERIN.

STARRING BELA LUGOSI, MADGE BELLAMY, JOHN HARRON, ROBERT W. FRAZER AND JOSEPH CAWTHORN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is such a marvellously atmospheric old horror movie, starring Bela Lugosi who was still fresh from his success as UNIVERSAL’s DRACULA (1931). He looks young, extremely handsome, charismatic and devilish here as the white Voodoo Master of Haiti who puts a spell on a beautiful young woman on whom he has personal romantic designs. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

The beautiful young woman in question is a blonde ‘Twenties bombshell called Madeleine Short, and she’s come to Haiti to marry her fiancé Neil Parker, who’s already there for some reason. I think he has a plantation there. On the boat over to Haiti, she meets a rich young man called Charles Beaumont who’s determined to befriend the young married-couple-to-be for reasons known only to himself.

On the coach-ride to Mr. Beaumont’s plantation, the young couple pass a funeral party that is burying the deceased in the middle of the road. This is to deter anyone who might have a mind to steal the corpse and turn it into one of the ‘undead,’ explains their Haitian coachman matter-of-factly. And, speaking of which, here come a party of these eerie ‘undead’ rascals right now!

The coachman whips up the horses to a frenetic degree.

‘What the hell are you playing at, driver?’ demands Neil irately. ‘We might have been killed!’

‘Or worse, Mister Neil,’ replies the coachman sagely, ‘we might have been CAUGHT…!’

Apparently, Haiti is swarming with these ghouls, who once walked the earth as human beings but whom the most nefarious black magic has raised up from the dead and turned into mindless zombies who work night and day in the islands’ sugar-cane mills. What a life, or should I say what an un-life…?

Mr. Beaumont is a wealthy plantation owner and it soon becomes clear that he’s fallen madly in love with the gorgeous Madeleine, with her huge doe eyes, Clara Bow lips and short blonde ‘Twenties hair.

She’s the very image of a ‘Twenties babe, despite the fact that we’re now in the ‘Thirties. The fashions here are very much still of the ‘Twenties. It gives the whole production the look of a silent movie and, as I’m a huge fan of silent movies, that’s no bad thing in my opinion.

In fact, the film would have worked very well as a silent movie. There’s kind of minimal dialogue in it anyway and the fantastic music score would have been ideal for a silent horror flick.

There’s a long stretch of the film at the end, the bit where Neil is fighting off the zombies by himself, where there’s little or no dialogue and the music is extremely dramatic. You could easily imagine yourself to be watching a terrific old silent movie at this point.

Mr. Beaumont wants to stop the marriage between Madeleine and Neil. He seeks out Bela Lugosi’s evil Voodoo Master, a white creator of zombies with the fantastically memorable name of ‘Murder Legendre,’ to help him. He wants the marriage stopped, but when he realises that the Voodoo Master’s method of doing it is to turn Madeleine herself into one of these ‘living dead’ zombies, he freaks out.

When the Voodoo Master in turn works a spell on Beaumont to immobilise him while he, Murder Legendre, claims Madeleine for his own, the situation becomes desperate. Can Neil rescue the lovely Madeleine from Murder’s evil clutches and, whether he can or he can’t, what will happen now to poor zombified Mr. Charles Beaumont, himself a rich plantation owner but who is now under one of Murder’s terrible spells?

Is he doomed for all time to slave in the Voodoo Master’s mills as one of the undead? And why am I calling him ‘poor’ Mr. Beaumont? If he hadn’t tried to break up Madeleine and Neil in the first place, none of this stuff would now be happening…! He’s only got himself to blame but still, being a zombie is probably a lot less exciting than it sounds.

The bit where Beaumont meets Murder Legendre in the Voodoo Master’s sugar-cane mill is quite chilling. Not only has the VM turned hundreds of once-living people into mindless zombie workers for profit (they work long hours for no pay and never quibble about anything because they can’t), but he’s also turned a specific coterie of them into his own personal group of bodyguards.

‘See these lads here?’ he tells the horrified Beaumont with his trademark evil Bela Lugosi smile. ‘These all used to be my enemies. This one here used to be my master.’

Beaumont is clearly shocked.

‘What happens if the spell you put on them is ever broken?’ he asks nervously.

‘Why, then they will tear me to pieces,’ says Bela matter-of-factly, still smiling. ‘So that can never be allowed to happen…’

By the way, here are some random facts about the film. The film was savaged by the critics upon release for the very things I love about it, the slightly hammy acting and the silent movie look and feel of the thing. The critics were nuts. This is possibly the best zombie movie ever made. Certainly it was the first full-length one.

I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE from 1943 has the same dark, shadowy atmospheric look and feel to WHITE ZOMBIE. It’s an excellent film as well, though with a slightly more modern feel to it because it’s a full decade older.

Rob Zombie’s metal band WHITE ZOMBIE took their name directly from the film and they wouldn’t have done that unless they thought it was the coolest movie ever, which it is, so take that, moronic critics. I still can’t believe they dissed this film.

The huge stone tower or cliffside castle where the zombified Madeleine is being held prisoner is actually a painting. It’s just like a black-and-white version of the fabulous painted castles in Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe film adaptations for AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES. It’s a gorgeous castle, very atmospheric-looking and quite like something out of the 1931 UNIVERSAL DRACULA too.

The two little maids assigned to care for Madeleine are scared to brush her hair because they know she’s one of the undead. They’re also too afraid to run away because the wicked and cunning VM will find them and turn them into zombies too. It’s quite a creepy no-win situation in which they find themselves.

Madeleine looks like a medieval princess when she comes out onto the balcony with that long dress on her with the low-slung belt around the waist. If her hair was several feet longer, she’d make a great Rapunzel. She’s the perfect damsel in distress, waiting patiently in her medieval tower to be rescued. There ain’t nothing remotely proactive about this dame. 

I’m not sure, though, why Neil is in such an all-fired great hurry to snap her out of the vacant, glassy-eyed zombified state she’s in. At least while she’s checked out like this, she won’t be nagging him to change his socks or get up from the sports on the telly to put the bins out. Some blokes clearly don’t know they’re born.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor