The Halloween Horror Fest Don’t Die

The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

Wow – what a cast! Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits – amongst many others – star in this comedy horror from director Jim Jarmusch.

The Dead Don’t Die tells the story of a zombie apocalypse in a small US town, as we see events unfold from the point of view of two cops on patrol (Murray and Driver). Natural phenomena begins to go awry, and following the murder of two workers in the local diner, events escalate quickly. Soon enough, the police (together with Swinton’s samurai funeral director) scramble to retain control as hordes of zombies take over.

Although there are some wonderful performances in this film – Murray and Driver’s brilliantly understated cops being the best – this film doesn’t really succeed as a comedy or a horror film. The zombie arrival is very slow, and the conclusion seems rushed. The comedy is rarely laugh out loud hilarious, it’s mostly dry humour and deadpan delivery, and there’s a lot to enjoy in the approach that the movie takes.

The Dead Don’t Die follows it’s own path, avoiding the much more in-you-face approach of Zombieland. The film is an enjoyable and worthwhile watch, but it doesn’t quite achieve its potential. It’s more of an Indie arthouse spoof of the genre, but whilst it has it’s own peculiar charms, I was expecting much more. Maybe I should know more about Jim Jarmusch. Who is he, anyway?

7/10

The Mummy (1959)

Frankenstein? Check. Dracula? Check. Next on the horror hitlist for Hammer was The Mummy, and boy does it look great in splendid colour. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are, of course, on hand; as are Terence Fisher (director) and Jimmy Sangster (writer). You can’t go wrong.

It’s 1895, and an archaeological dig in Egypt finds the ancient tomb of of Princess Ananka. John Banning (Cushing) has a broken leg, and can’t enter the tomb, though it’s probably for the best. His dad Stephen does go in, despite the protestation of the Egyptian Mehemet Bey (George Pastell) and is driven mad by… something.

On returning home, Banning senior (Felix Aylmer) is in a nursing home, receiving care for the mentally disturbed. He becomes lucid enough to warn his son that he fears the mummy of Kharis, the high priest will destroy them all for entering the tomb.

Sure enough, the Mummy of Kharis (Lee) is awoken by Bey, and begins to take revenge for the disturbance. Will Banning be able to stop it’s rampage?

Predictably excellent work from Cushing here, as expected. And Lee is imposing as ever as Kharis, looking incredibly grim emerging from a swamp. The film does drag a little in the final third, but with the beautiful sets, a lush score and a decent story, The Mummy is unmissable for any Hammer fan.

8.5/10

Horrible Histories Playlist

My daughter Eloise had her 8th birthday last weekend.  At the moment, she’s a big fan of the BBC children’s TV series, Horrible Histories, and requested a party based on that theme.

If you’re not familiar with Horrible Histories, let me tell you it’s well worth checking it.  Both funny and informative, the show makes history appeal to kids (and adults) by illuminating some unusual – and sometimes gross – facts from various periods throughout the past.

We’ve all become big fans in our house, actually.  So the party was going to be fun – everyone could dress up as historical characters and entertainment geared to the theme.

Only one thing remained – some music suitable for days gone by.  Not having much music in my collection that was actually from previous ages, I had to dig out some tunes that could fit the bill.  Here’s what I came up with…

  1. Hanna-Barbera – “(Meet) The Flintstones [Main Title]”
  2. The Bangles – “Walk Like an Egyptian”
  3. Mikis Theodorakis – “Zorbas”
  4. Iron Maiden – “Alexander the Great”
  5. ABBA – “Waterloo”
  6. Chuck Berry – “Roll Over Beethoven”
  7. Boney M. – “Rasputin”
  8. Clutch – “Abraham Lincoln”
  9. Trio Guadalajara – “La Bamba”
  10. De Danaan – “The Cameronian Reel/The Doon Reel”
  11. Iron Maiden – “Ghengis Khan”
  12. Mariachi Mexico de Pepe Villa – “El Jarbe Tapatio (Mexican Hat Dance)”
  13. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers – “Egyptian Reggae”
  14. Madness – “Night Boat to Cairo” 
  15. Sweet – “Alexander Graham Bell”
  16. Rodrigo Y Gabriela – “Vikingman”
  17. Iron Maiden – “Invaders”
  18. The Kinks – “Victoria”
  19. Boney M. – “Ma Baker”
  20. Sweet – “Wig Wam Bam”
  21. Mikis Theodorakis – “Varka Sto Gialo”
  22. Bananarama – “Venus”
  23. Tom Jones – “Delilah”
  24. The Beatles – “Roll Over Beethoven”
  25. Christina Aguilera – “Candyman”
  26. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – “The Raiders March”
  27. Eric Rogers – “Carry On Cleo”
  28. Eric Rogers – “Carry On Up the Khyber”

Ok, so some of those tracks are less scraping the barrell and more like digging the dust on an archaeological dig, but it did the job.  Basically, without Iron Maiden I’d have been screwed…