Pixie: Can I get you anything to drink? Tea, coffee… maybe even a beer. It’s midday somewhere in the world, right?
Charlie: Is it possible to have a beer with a shot of coffee in it? As an Englishman I have the innate ability to drink alcohol at any time of the day, but as a creative…coffee is our life source.
Pixie: So, we met a few years back at Walker Stalker Con, I think it was actually in 2018 – man, has it really been that long? You were kind enough to take a punt on the first book in my series, and now that I think about it, you were one of the first sales of the day. Since then, we have been chatting on Instagram and have developed a love / hate kind of relationship haha… especially when it comes to THAT ending of Kill or Cure Oblivion (we can come onto that later) But the great thing is, I’ve had the opportunity to see your production company Northguard Studio’s really flourish. So, to start things off, can you tell us a little bit about Northguard Studios and what inspired you to start your own film company.
Charlie: As for Northguard Studios…how long have you got? From a young age I knew that I was fascinated by the medium of film. Whether it was going to the cinema or turning off all of the lights in my room to stick on a DVD, films always allowed me to escape into another world. The funny thing is, I always thought I’d be the one IN FRONT of the camera, lapping up the limelight in Hollywood. It wasn’t until later on that I started to have a fierce attention to detail within films which then eventually lead me onto wondering “I wonder how they got that shot?”
As life went on I started receiving cameras for various Birthdays and Christmas’, the silly home movies were made on windows movie maker and I found a passion for creating, no matter what it was. Eventually I studied TV and film production at University and that became the final confirmation I needed to know that this is the industry I want to go into. It was during my time at University that Northguard Studios began as a side gig for a little extra cash alongside my then part-time job at a trampoline park. If you’re good at something, never do it for free, right?
Without knowing, my then side gig became a route into an actual career in the industry because when applying for filmmaking based roles, you almost always need a showreel to strengthen your CV – and I had just spent the last 3 years creating my a** off. So, that worked out well haha.
Pixie: In addition to being a filmmaker you’re also a dancer, which has hugely influenced your branding and projects. You even created an amazing dance series on YouTube called Midnight Marauders. How did this project start? Was it initially a vehicle to showcase your skills as a director? Or do you have bigger plans for this?
Charlie: I think I always knew that my dance would eventually creep into my filmmaking life, and it did so in the best way possible. Midnight Marauders is actually a love child between myself and my fellow crew member/best friend, Rob Law. He always wanted to branch out into that side of the dance world because it was something we had been inexperienced in, and that branch of the dance scene was dominated mostly by London based dancers. It was honestly just a bit of fun at first but then we gained massive traction within the dance scene and people wanted to see more, so we continued it!
Eventually the Midnight Marauders series was split into two seasons. The first being very ‘outdoor’ orientated and the second, more of an urban/industrial feeling. The series even got me hired at both a sales company in Manchester, working as their sole videographer, and as a freelance filmmaker for HDI Dance Camp, an international events company that hosts dance classes for dancers all over the world. Midnight Marauders has been put to rest for now as myself and Rob focus on an even bigger project (my lips are sealed!) but who knows… we may have to come back with a bigger budget and a bigger idea for Midnight Marauders, Season Three.
Pixie: Like me, I know you’re just starting out on this crazy creative journey. So, I have to ask – what’s your vision for Northguard studios? Where do you see yourself in say, five years’ time?
Charlie: I’m glad you asked me this questions because usually people are dumb founded for an answer and pick something easy like…having more money, more work or retired haha. Whenever I’m asked this I am always brought back to Matthew McConaughey’s speech from when he won best actor at the Oscars in 2014. He was asked this same question and he said that he would always be chasing himself and striving to be the best version of Matthew McConaughey. I 100% echo this thought process so I guess my answer to that question is; in five years time I hope that I’m a better Charlie Eve because a result of that will be a better Northguard Studios.
Pixie: I always talk about this with my closest author friends, so I’m curious, what’s your moon shot goal? You know, that total pipedream goal that feels so far out of reach. Would it be to direct and write your own film? Or something a little more tangible like, having employees in your thriving company or earning a seven-figure salary? What’s that one dream that pushed you into pursuing this career in the first place?
Charlie: Honestly…I’d be happy with being a runner on a Hollywood scale production. I’d die happy after that but if I have to speak my dreams into reality, I guess it would be writing and directing my own film. I tell myself all the time that maybe I should just write a script in the hopes to sell it on but I’m such a control freak over my own projects that I’d pull my hair out if a single scene was changed from my original idea. Ask me this question again when I’m halfway through directing my own Hollywood film and I’ll tell you if it was worth it, ha!
Pixie: I think we need to briefly talk about Oblivion. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of reviews for my series… including some very mixed emotions about THAT ending. But I have to say, your reaction has probably been cemented in my brain as the most… dare I say, emotional. I think at first, you were livid… then you were sad… then you were happy(ish), I hope ha. So, without giving away any spoilers, have you forgiven me for ripping out your heart?
Charlie: No. Next question.
Okay…I will say this. The type of reaction I had after finishing your series is the reaction I BEG for when reading a book or watching a new TV show. Without those feelings, I don’t get attached to a character or story and I feel like that’s really dangerous. If you had played it safe and kept your readers happy…that would be BORING. I’m glad you reached out of the pages, into my rib cage, and ripped my heart out. Why? Because now I want MORE. GIVE. ME. MORE!!!!
Pixie: Before we part ways, what’s next in store for you? What are you working on now? And where we can find out about Northguard Studio’s?
Charlie: You can find Northguard Studios either on YouTube, under the same name or head over to our instagram page (@northguard_studios) where I have all the content you need to at least want to grab a coffee with me. As for now…I’m currently working on a music video for the world’s biggest Beyoncé impersonator/drag queen that will go up on a huge video wall at UK Black Pride. So that’ll be fun!
I love going to Comic Con. I love the hustle & bustle, the amazing cosplay… and all the geeky merch. But above all, I love meeting my kindred spirits. All the geeky folks that truly understand the passion that comes with being a fanboy or fangirl. So, like many people in the U.K, I was so gutted when they announced that it had been delayed. I know it was for a good reason, and ultimately, our safety should always come first. But damn it, I was looking forward to it!
So, that’s when I came up with the idea for PixFest, my very own miniature online Comic Con. Yes, it’s not quite as grand as going to London Olympia, but I think it will be fun – that’s the dream anyway!!
On August 19, 2021 at 7pm (UK time) on my Facebook page, I will be launching PixFest! Throughout the evening, you will be able to download an exclusive FREE chapter from the Kill or Cure prequel called Winter.
I’ll also release a sneak peek from the Kill or Cure Bloodlust Audiobook which is currently under development, plus you’ll have a chance to win a ‘zombification’ from comic book artist, Phil Buckenham… and last, but by no means least, I will be interviewing Hollywood legend Darren Kent!
Darren is a renowned Film and Television actor, and is best known for playing The Scholar in US SyFy series Blood Drive. Some of his other roles include that of the grieving father in HBO series Game of Thrones and Asa Bishop in ITV Encore’s The Frankenstien Chronicles. Darren is also a keen Writer/Producer and Director and has recently finished Directing The Break series 5 for the BBC.
So, get your questions ready and join us for this amazing discussion. I hope to see you there, you can register your interest on the Facebook events page here:
I’ll be up front right away: I am no writer, certainly not like our beloved Pixie, and that will probably become apparent as I go on. What I am, though, is passionate about horror, in particular the zombie subgenre; something I am sure you will agree is awesome!
I am here to talk to you about how my passion has manifested and what I am doing, particularly during these difficult times in lockdown, to promote this subgenre, along with horror in a general sense, and, of course, keeping myself sane.
Around August 2020, I was fortunate enough to become part of the George A. Romero Foundation. (Aka the GARF.) “What’s that?” you ask. Well, if you will indulge me, I will take you back slightly—well, to the 1960s and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, not necessarily a place associated with movie-making.
A keen bunch of creatives who thought they could make a movie as good as, if not better than, the current crop of B-movie and creature feature horror filling their local drive-ins and movie theatres, decided to make a little horror movie of their own. It was (eventually) called Night of the Living Dead; the director was one George A. Romero; and an entire sub-genre, namely populated with flesh-eating zombies, was born.
George, of course, went on to make another five zombie movies, including what is generally considered to be the best ever made, Dawn of the Dead, as well as a suite of politically antagonising, non-comprising movies, frequently dabbling in horror if not outright drowning in it.
Over the course of his 30-year career, George visited vampire lore with Martin; tackled a viral outbreak catastrophe with The Crazies, which is very reminiscent of current times; cast a very young Ed Harris in his first lead role in Knightriders, led the way in anthology horror with Creepshow; adapted work with Stephen King’s The Dark Half; and redefined genre convention by combining zombies and found footage with Diary of the Dead.
Along the way, George would collaborate with some of the greatest horror luminaries of the ’80s and ’90s, including Stephen King, Dario Argento, and Tobe Hooper.
Now you have a bit of insight into what George did and was about. So, what does the Foundation do, and how did it all come about?
Well, sadly George passed in July 2017, and to honour his memory and continue his great work, his widow, Suzanne Romero, decided to establish a foundation to promote George’s work and independent horror filmmaking, particularly in and around Pittsburgh, a city George fell in love with, even though he was a New Yorker.
Over the past three years, the Foundation has grown both in numbers and capability and even generated a presence that stretches across the globe. I am the GARF Global lead and UK ambassador, and since I came on board, the Foundation has established ambassadors in France, Italy, and Japan, in addition to having a presence in California, Colorado, Florida, and of course Pittsburgh.
We are all volunteers and huge horror and Romero fans, and have recruited Greg Nicotero (Him of the Walking Dead), Tom Savini (makeup and FX legend), Malcolm McDowell, and John Harrison, as well as other movie industry experts and horror academics to work with and promote the Foundation.
Recent achievements that have come about from the involvement of the Foundation include the reboot of the Creepshow franchise on Shudder, executive produced by Greg; and the release of the long-lost Romero film The Amusement Park, now available to stream on Shudder in the UK after a full restoration and rights negotiation deal undertaken by the Foundation.
In addition to new projects, the Foundation has been instrumental in preserving George’s memory. In partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, a number of film-training programmes have been established, and an archive of material accumulated throughout George’s career has been created and put on display for fellow horror filmmakers, academics, and members of the public to view.
George was a prolific writer and produced some very intriguing and frankly astonishing pieces of work. Over the course of his career, he was attached to an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, recently reimagined as a miniseries for the second time; and the Resident Evil gaming series, ultimately making a commercial for the Japanese market.
So, what does the future hold for myself and the Foundation? Well, as things slowly begin to open, you will see us at horror conventions across the globe. We will have a presence at Living Dead Weekend in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, the very location where Dawn of the Dead was made, and we are planning on some UK convention appearances in the UK in 2022, as well as other live events across Europe and the Far East.
In addition to convention appearances, we are planning live and virtual events focused on George’s works. This year, check out the 16th anniversary of Land of the Dead, and in 2022, we’ll celebrate the 40th anniversary of Creepshow. In April, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Knightriders, bringing some cast members together for the first time in over 35 years, including one Ed Harris.
We are acknowledging Romero’s collaborators’ contributions to horror and others in the genre with our annual Pioneer Award, and we are also continuing to provide a full range of licensed merchandise associated with George’s films—some for the first time. As we are non-profit organization, all money raised goes back into the Foundation and the great work being done.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you have a good appreciation of the work being done if not done already, so maybe check out some of George’s work. After all, no George A. Romero, no Walking Dead, and maybe I’ll catch you at the Monroeville Mall, The Wampum Mines, or Fiddler’s Green, and in the meantime, Stay Scared!
What to know more about GARF? See what we’re up to, let us know what you’re up to or suggest ideas for George Romero events? Well that’s easy with any, and all of the contact details below:
SUBSCRIBE!! To our quarterly newsletter. Head over to https://georgearomerofoundation.org/contact.
CONTRIBUTE!! Fancy throwing us a couple of bucks every month, remember The GARF is non-profit and all our staff are volunteers. All money raised goes straight back into the foundation. Subscribe to our Pateron at www.patreon.com/thegarfofficial
EMAIL!! Send me any ideas, questions, suggestions or even just to chat all things Romero. email@example.com
FOLLOW!! We’reon social media and are active on all the main platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Like/follow/subscribe and we’ll follow you straight back!
Instagram: George A. Romero Foundation
Facebook: George A. Romero Foundation
YouTube: GARF Network
I had one of those moments last night after watching The Dead Don’t Die, and I ended up going to bed with an irrational red mist hanging over me… and here’s why.
Before I go any further, if you still wish to subject yourself to this movie, I’d suggest that you skip this review because it has all the spoilers. But hopefully, you’ll take heed of my warning and maybe my anger will at least make you giggle.
The Dead Don’t Die started as a mildly compelling, tongue-in-cheek zombie film with a dry sense of humor… until the last 25 minutes. The end of this film was so bad, I felt like the director was mocking me for watching it.
With such a stellar cast, I was lulled into the false sense of security that it must be good. Hell, it’s starring some of my favourite actors. But even Bill Murray’s charm and Steve Buscemi’s wit could not save this terrible film.
The story is set in a sleepy American town in the middle of nowhere called Centreville, when one day, government fracking on the Earth’s poles causes the entire world to shift on its axis. At first, the animals start to go missing and the daytime bleeds into the night… and then eventually, zombies start to crawl out of their graves.
At this stage in the movie, I was quite enjoying it. The old school Romero-style zombies were great. I didn’t even mind the lack of gore. In this film, instead of spraying the characters with blood, decapitated zombies exploded into dust… imagine if you saw someone farting into a bag of flour… kinda like that, except these zombies would literally go POOF, and then drop dead. Fart jokes aside, I kinda liked it. Although you have to wonder, with such a stellar cast, maybe they simply ran out of budget and had to come up with a cheap, mildly amusing alternative – who knows…
The film was littered with great quirky characters played by Hollywood legends… Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Selena Gomez… there is even a cameo from rock legend Iggy Pop as one of the first zombies. This film had ALL the stars, and yet, their performances couldn’t save it. It wasn’t even that it was acted badly, it was the ending that made no sense.
For some unknown reason, the director decided to end the film by breaking the fourth wall… i.e the characters realising they were in a film. But it added no value to the storyline whatsoever. It literally added nothing. It served no purpose in adding humour, it didn’t create a big twist. It did nothing, other than make me angry.
At the midpoint in the film, the director hinted at breaking the fourth wall, when Officer Ronnie played by Adam Driver and Chief Cliff Robertson played by Bill Murray are listening to the radio in their cop car. The song The Dead Don’t Die came on, and Officer Ronnie comments, “This is the theme tune.” At the time, I groaned internally. I’m not a fan of films that break the fourth wall at the best of times, but sometimes it works, for example, Ferris Buellers Day Off. On that basis, I was willing to stick with it and see it through to the end.
The film ends with mortician Zelda Winston played by Tilda Swinton, who until this point, has been roaming around town as a white-haired, Scottish assassin, killing the undead with her samurai sword. She agrees to meet Officer Ronnie and Chief Cliff in the cemetery. They don’t question why, they simply agree to meet her there.
When they inevitably get surrounded by the zombie horde in their cop car, Chief Cliff questions why Officer Ronnie constantly states that everything is going to end badly. His response was… because I read the script. They then watch Zelda get into an ALIEN SPACESHIP and leave earth – you can’t even make this up. After her swift exit, both cops die in a very mediocre battle with farting zombie heads, and then the credits roll…
Breaking the fourth wall didn’t add humour, it didn’t change the outcome of their fate, it did nothing. Everyone died and no one cared.
So, there you have it. One of the worst films I have watched in a very long time, and hopefully, you won’t make the same mistake as me.
I rate this movie, two terrible zombie head farts out of ten.
Unlike The Dead Don’t Bother, the brand new post-apocalyptic series on Netflix called Sweet Tooth is definitely worth a watch. I wasn’t sure what to think about this series going in, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I still have a couple of episodes to go, so unless it ends terribly, I highly recommend that you check this one out.
Originally a comic book series, the story begins after a devastating global pandemic wipes out the vast majority of the population. As the world begins to crumble, human mothers start to give birth to ‘hybrids’ – half-human, half-animal children. Pockets of society blame the hybrids for the spread of the virus, so many children are forced into hiding. This is where we meet the main character Gus, a half boy, half deer hybrid, surviving in the wilderness with his father.
As the story unfolds, we are introduced to several characters with separate yet parallel stories. Each plot thread is interwoven perfectly, resulting in a highly addictive series. There’s a certain magic to this story, unlike anything else I’ve seen in the post-apocalyptic genre, and strangely it works. If you have teens at home, you could probably watch this with them because there is very little gore. But that doesn’t mean that it’s without action and suspense.
Overall, if you’re looking for something a little different, check this one out and let me know what you think. In case you missed it, here’s the trailer:
Have any of you guys started watching Black Summer yet? You know, probably the best zombie tv series going? Well, I watched the first episode the other night and I forgot how stressful it is. For 50 minutes, my butt cheeks were clenched and my hands were balled into fists. Quite the picture, huh? After the credits rolled, I sagged into to sofa and laughed,
Ah yes, this is why I loved the first season so much.
It’s stressful viewing… but in a good way.
The thing I love about Black Summer is the gritty realness. The characters make silly mistakes but not in an annoying way. As chaos ensues, it easy to imagine yourself in that situation, because as much as we like to believe that under our geeky exteriors we’re all ass-kicking zombie killing warriors like Daryl Dixon, most of us (me included) would be woefully inadequate, just like the beloved Lance in Black Summer who can barely wield an ax.
You’ll get my full review next month once I’ve finished it but if it continues on this trajectory, we’re in for a bumpy ride.
Have you watched it yet? I’d love to know what you think. Post your comments at the bottom of this thread – no spoilers!!
And lastly, we have a brand new trailer for Ashin of the North, a spin-off from Kingdom – the legendary Korean zombie series.
This trailer speaks for itself, so really you should just watch it. But in case you are wondering, this epic ‘sidequal’ explains the origins of the mysterious resurrection flower and follows Ashin on her quest to seek vengeance for her lost tribe and family.
Have you watched Kingdom? If so, what did you think?
That’s it for this month. If you’d like to receive more content like this, including free books, author updates and amusing stories about my cat Pudding, you can join my monthly newsletter. Grab a FREE copy of my short story prequel, and you can sign up today.
Hey Survivors! So, as some of you may know, I have a little monster at home and it is up to me to show him the wonders of horror and zombies but, being that he’s young and I’m the one that has to wake up when he has nightmares, I have to ease him into it. So, I look for gateway horror titles that are good for Pre-Teens; here is a short list of a few that feature zombies!
So, here’s one that many parents who were trapped in the house last year bought for a bit of peace. Trolls World Tour is the second movie in the Trolls franchise and unlike the first movie, it’s based around the society of the trolls.
Early in the movie you learn there are groups of trolls for every genre of music, and they all live separately in peace and harmony with their own magical musical cords. Well, the Rock Trolls want to control all the cords, and in doing so, turn Trolls into mindless Rock n’ Roll Zombies.
It’s pretty cool to see a popular franchise incorporate zombies into their world. TWD has made zombies main stream, but you really don’t notice how big that is until you see things like this.
I’ve never seen Bunks but the concept seems interesting enough. Two trouble making teen brothers scam their way into working at a summer camp instead of going to military camp for troubled youths. The brothers are put in charge of an unruly cabin of kids, and get into it with the other camp counsellors.
The movie has a Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark theme as the brothers find a book of scary stories and break the camp’s only rule of not telling scary stories, releasing a curse from the past and a zombie named Anson who used to work at the camp in the 70s before turning and eating the campers.
Haven’t seen this in forever! So, Norman is an 11 year old who can talk to the dead but no one believes him, because why would you? It’s much more likely that he’s making this up because he enjoys being picked on and having the whole town hate him. Anyways, Norman’s town was big on witch hunting back in the day, so much so, his school makes the kids do a play about the witch hunts and celebrate the murder of a witch three centuries ago (This town sounds fun! That’s sarcasm)
Norman’s crazy Uncle tells Norman it is his time to do a ritual to keep the town safe, and then dies before telling him what that ritual is. But it’s okay, cause Norman talks to the dead and learns from his dead Uncle that he must read from a book (that the uncle was buried with) before sunset.
Simple enough, right? Wrong!
Norman doesn’t read the book and zombies come out of their graves to destroy the town… Kids with books are a dangerous thing in horror movies, books in general come to think of it… but buy my book, I swear you won’t get cursed (that statement is not legally binding)
Remember when we talked about how main stream zombies have become? Well, there is nothing more main stream than a Disney channel musical. Yes, there is a Disney Zombie Musical and yes I’ve watched it more than once.
Zombies is about a place name Seabrook where cheerleading is the only sport people care about, and everyone is pretty stepford-wifeish. Oh, and the whole west side of town are where the zombies live after an explosion at the town power plant (that got its power from an unknown force… I’m not paying my electric bill if even the Mayor don’t know where the power comes from)
The zombies used to be wild and rabid but now they have things called Z bands that allow them to live normal lives, and this year the zombies get to go to school with the normal kids. It’s a story about high school love and segregation… old girl wanted to date him on the down low and he was like “yeah, that sounds great,” he’s a zombie with no self respect and is extremely hypocritical in part two, but it’s still a nice way to ease your kids into the world of zombies.
The best movie for your kid who loves zombies or who isn’t sure about zombies is the one that I sat and watched premier on Cartoon Network in 1998. I’m talking the mother of gateway horror, Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island!
This was advertised as the first Scooby-Doo mystery where the monsters were real! (It’s not true, do we not remember when Scooby was hanging with Price?) I sat there with my popcorn and soda cause I had zombies and cartoons! It was the dream team combination! I’m not gonna fill you in, put down your phone and go watch this movie!
Well, I hope you enjoyed this kiddie ride into the world of zombies. Let me know what some of your favorite gateway horror movies are and let me know if your kids love any of the ones on this list
Sylvester Barzey is a best selling horror and fantasy author who grew up in Bronx, NY and was later transplanted to Lawrence, GA. A military veteran with an addiction to all things horror, Sylvester’s goal is to shine a spotlight on BIPOC characters within the horror/fantasy genre.
You can find Sylvester at:
Get over here! and join me as I offer a review of the newly(ish) released movie reboot of the much-loved gaming franchise.
Now cast your mind back to yesteryear, or 1992 to be exact, and you’ll remember a classic computer game released on many platforms. My console of choice was the Sega. Much like the game, the film adaptation told the tale of a group of fighters from earth, or the earth-realm, thrown together and sent to a mysterious island to take part in a tournament.
Full of fan service, one liners, finishers and recognisable characters, the 1995 movie quickly became, not only a favourite with fans, but a cult classic too. The inevitable sequel less so, and the less we say about that the better.
Jump forward 26 years and we have been treated to a modern-day reboot. I think we all know how reboots can go… *cough* Ghostbusters: Answer the Call… So, there was some deserved apprehension from fans of both the films and games.
Thankfully this seemed to be in good albeit fresh hands with Simon McQuoid who brought it back to gruesome life. Without hanging on the subject for too long, there was authentic casting in the forms of some of the Asian characters, so white washing isn’t something that this film can be accused of.
Cast interviews gave early hints that the finishing moves in the film would stay true to the game, and boy did they deliver. My favourite being Kung Lao killing Nitara – he rams his razor edged hat into the ground and runs Nitara through it, easily cutting her in half.
The main crux of the reboot story does differ from the original quite a bit, but for me this was a welcome change. We are introduced to a new character Cole Young who is an out of luck MMA fighter paid to lose. He is seemingly unaware of his heritage and therefore cannot understand why, Emperor of the Outworld Shang Tsung, has sent his best warrior Sub-Zero to hunt him down. Once he has learned of his destiny, he is tasked by Lord Raiden, protector of the Earth-realm, to go in search of other champions to fight together. Normally, this would have been done in the form of a tournament, where an earth-realm fighter would go up against an outworld fighter. However, the Emperor is trying to sabotage the tournament, so it doesn’t happen.
A lot of early criticism was because there wasn’t a single tournament in the whole film, but in fairness this is explained and for me it works. The ending also sets up a sequel that would surely then lead to a tournament, as our hero Cole sets off on a trip to Hollywood in the hunt for a much-loved character from the game and first original film.
All in all, I really enjoyed this film, certainly more than I expected. It was true to the source material whilst offering some fresh perspective and if I am honest the gore added a much-needed element that the original film missed. I would certainly recommend with a solid 8/10.
I think we can all agree, Zack Snyder had a tough act to follow after Dawn of the Dead remake. Even though it’s not technically in my top ten favourite films, it’s still highly ranked as one of my favourite zombie films. So, when I first heard about Army of the Dead, I was both excited and a little skeptical. Over the years, we have seen so many zombie films come and go, it’s hard to find a thrilling storyline that doesn’t use the same washed-up tropes, and when I first read the premise of Army of the Dead – I had a lot of reservations.
But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I downright loved it. Yes, there were some glaring plot holes and the ending was a little rushed but I honestly didn’t care. I was having way too much fun to care. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.
In an interview last year, Synder said he was going to deliver a ‘balls to the wall’ zombie film, and he certainly did that. Right from the beginning, we were quite literally showered in zombie guts, to the point where I was giggling with glee… come to think of it, I don’t think I have seen such stomach-churning gore since Noah’s demise in The Walking Dead. Remember when he got his head stuck in the revolving doors? Yep, that stayed with me too.
Let’s face it, this film isn’t an oscar-worthy epic. But it doesn’t even try to be. Synder has managed to push the boundaries within the genre, and whilst ‘smart zombies’ isn’t new, his portrayal of the zombie king and queen heightened the action to a whole new level… and then, of course, there are the alien robot zombies that everyone is talking about, which I’ll admit, sounds mad when you say it out loud. But it’s true, there were hints littered throughout the film. I’m not going to discuss that any further because it’s way too spoilery. Apparently, it is going to be explored in the animated prequel coming soon, so maybe we will get some answers there.
At times, the over-the-top, slick action sequences reminded me of John Wick. Was it believable? Absolutely not. Because in real life, even the most skilled soldiers would struggle to get THAT many perfect headshots, but again, I didn’t care. It was pure escapism at its finest, and it was everything I needed after a long week in the office.
I could go into way more detail but I’m going to stop there. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who still needs to watch it. But before I move on, we need to talk about the stars that stole the show: hilarious Tig Notaro as the pilot and the gorgeous Matthias Schweighöfer as Dieter… who I may or may not have a crush on now. I mean, why do I always fall in love with the geeky guys? This film was literally brimming with buff men, and I’m like… meh, bring on Dieter! I’m sure many women will agree with me – muscles are overrated. Give me a cute blond guy who can make me laugh, and my heart is yours!
So, you can imagine my delight when they announced that Dieter would be getting his very own prequel film called Army of Thieves, and although it isn’t strictly a zombie film, it has Dieter in it, so I’m sold already…
Anyways, I digress…
So overall, I really enjoyed it. It was a fun, action-packed zombie extravaganza, and I’ll probably rewatch it again soon. I give this film, 6.5 badass alien zombies out of 10.
I have to admit, I went in to IT Chapter 2 with relatively low expectations. I enjoyed the first movie starring Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Martell, and not forgetting Bill Skasgard as the terrifying nightmare fuel, Pennywise the clown, but I didn’t love it either. For me, it wasn’t one of those movies that I would rush to watch again. The acting was good, the jump scares were okay…it was all just…meh. After watching the first film, I remember leaving the movie theatre feeling very ‘vanilla’ about the whole thing.
So you could imagine my surprise when I left the cinema on Saturday night feeling somewhat impressed. I’m going to put it out there right now, I think IT Chapter 2 is a significant improvement on the first, and it’s not often you could say that about any sequel, especially in the horror genre.
Firstly, the casting choices were absolutely spot on. This was emphasised by the flashbacks to the child actors from the first film. From James McAvoy’s painfully accurate stutter to James Ransone’s depiction of the neurotic, germaphobe Eddie, and even the childish and often blunt comedy from Bill Hader. All of the actors were scarily reminiscent of their younger counterparts, which resulted in an adult adventure film that could easily rival a Goonies remake, if it were surrounded by nightmarish, half-zombie, half-spider monsters…with a few severed baby limbs thrown in for good measure. Sound horrifying? That’s because it is.
You could argue that the plot isn’t anything revolutionary, but it doesn’t try to be either. In IT Chapter 2 Stephen King has firmly taken a page out of Stan Lee’s playbook and actually appears in the film as an eccentric shop-keeper in Derry. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Stephen King. Salem’s Lot is one of my favourite books. But it’s not a secret that the godfather of horror, despite all his legendary tension building and all round awesomeness, can’t write a good ending. And best of all, he knows it too.
So when the film actively pokes fun at this through the character Bill Denbrough played by James McAvoy, who like King, also can’t write a good ending for his horror novel, I found myself giggling through the lacklustre ending. It’s not often you can say that about a film that ends kind of terribly. But I guess it’s hard to feel irritated when you’re subconsciously prepared for it.
For all its foibles, the camaraderie in this rag-tag group of friends is believable. It felt as though we were genuinely watching a group of old school friends taking on a psychotic, murdering clown. The comedy was well-placed without being too over baring, and there were touching moments that heightened the tension too. Overall it was entertaining, which is ultimately the aim of the game, right?
A small piece of advice, though; at nearly three hours long, make sure you have a good pee before you go in. Otherwise you’ll be squirming until the end, or you’ll have to run the gauntlet at some point during the film. And if you leave it until that bathroom scene with Jessica Chastain, you might never want to go into a bathroom stall again.
I rate this movie seven psychotic, child-eating clowns out of ten.