Halloween Horror Fest: Double Tap

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Has it really been over ten years since Zombieland? Indeed it has, and in this long awaited sequel, we re-join the four main characters from that original movie for – well, pretty much the same as last time, really.

Our four post apocalyptic survivors – Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) – have settled in at a disused White House, where there’s a sense of stability and the humdrum, despite the zombie hordes. When the group become separated, we’re back on familiar ground as they attempt to reunite.

There are plenty of new ideas and fun gimmicks in the movie, despite much of the premise being somewhat obvious. A love triangle with bimbo mall chick Madison, some strangely familiar new characters and a bunch of pacifist hippies help add some fun and, yes, jeopardy to the proceedings.

Not as good as the first film, obvs – and featuring a pretty dumb monster truck stunt sequence near the climax – but still hugely entertaining. Definitely worth a watch. And spicing up a cast gifted with the stunning Emma Stone by adding the incomparably beautiful Rosario Dawson is a joy to behold.

I LOVE YOU, ROSARIO!

8/10

Halloween Horror Fest Land

Zombieland (2009)

I can’t believe this film is nearly ten years old.  It seems like only yesterday I saw Zombieland in the cinema.  This movie is a horror comedy, set in a post apocalyptic America over-run with zombies.  And it’s brilliant.

We begin with shy, nerdy student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), who is trying to make his way home to Columbus, Ohio to see if his parents are still alive.  He has developed a series of rules to stay alive such as “Beware of bathrooms” – thus far, these guides have proven solid. 

On his journey, Columbus meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a zombie killing machine who’s looking for the last Twinkie.

These two then meet up with two sisters, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who are on their way to a California amusement park which is supposedly zombie free.

On the way there are several adventures, not least a surprise encounter with a legendary Hollywood star.  And zombies, of course.  Lots of zombies.

Zombieland is really well put together, and gets better with repeated viewings.  There’s  a lot of subtle humour that might not be obvious at first.  There are plenty of big obvious laughs too, of course, amongst nice pop culture references.

There are some jumpy scares, and a fair dose of tension, but this film is mainly all about the laughs, with some charming moments too.  If you like Shaun of the Dead, you’ll probably like Zombie land too.  But for my money, I prefer Zombieland.

Plus, Emma Stone is a total babe.  Thank you.

9/10

Pride and Prejudice and Halloween Horror Fest

The Addams Family (1991)

We decided to watch a spooky movie as a family, and The Addams Family was a perfect choice.  In this movie version of the famous cartoon/television show, Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) has been missing for many years, but returns from the unknown to a warm welcome from his family.  But is Fester all he seems? af

This is another film that I wasn’t too fussed on when I saw it originally, way back in 1991.  Oh, that makes me feel old…

But returning to the movie all these years later I found I enjoyed it much more.  The look and feel of the family and their house is, for the most part, spot on.  Their peculiar interests and characters are suitably amusing, particularly in the case of Fester and Gomez (Raul Julia).  The only weak link is Anjelica Huston, who never cut it for me as Morticia – she has none of the allure of Carolyn Jones in the old TV show.

Stealing every scene however is Wednesday Addams, played by a very young Christina Ricci.  She gets her fair share of memorable lines and carries each of them off well.

The Addams Family is full of ghoulish laughs and was a big hit in our household.  Ideal for Halloween family fun.

8/10

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Yes, that is indeed the title of this film.  And yes, it is indeed loosely based on the Jane Austen novel.  Unlike many purists, the idea of these type of mash up movies (see also Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer – and others) appeals to me greatly.  I’m more than happy to mercilessly disregard any sense of genre loyalty for the sake of entertainment.

I should be honest and admit that I have never read Pride and Prejudice.  Nor have I seen any of the numerous film and television adaptations.  I did study Austen’s Emma for English A Level – I found it incredibly dull.

In my defence though I’ll say that I also read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – which I loved and still rate as one of my favourite books.  So I can’t be a complete philistine, surely?ppz

Anyway, back to the film.  England has fallen amidst a zombie apocalypse.  The ladies and gentlemen go about their business in their big stately homes much as one would expect, though in this version they’re now trained in deadly martial arts for self defence.

The plot follows the heroine, a tough Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) and her sisters as they navigate not only the romance of the era, but a plague of zombies too.  Mr Darcy (Sam Riley) is played as a battle hardened zombie slayer, with some brilliant innovative devices for detecting the undead.

Although I’m not familiar with the source material, the dialogue and narrative seems authentic enough.  Plus the zombie element is woven in very nicely, providing a quirky additional element to the proceedings.

The second half of the film lagged a little as the characters seem to spend too much time untangling their romantic affairs and misunderstandings (just like in the unbearable Emma).  But there were a few laughs (great performance from Matt Smith as Parson Collins) and some tension in the finale to make it all worthwhile.

Put aside any prejudice you may hold yourself and give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a chance.  Keep an open mind and it’s great fun.

8/10

So there we go – another year of Halloween Horror Fest is over.  Do not fear – there are many more horror DVDs in my collection for next year.

Fang you for joining me for Halloween Horror Fest 2016!

ScreamAcres Zombie Apocalypse

ScreamAcres at GreenAcres Animal Park

Last week I spent a wild evening desperately trying to escape from a horde of zombies.  For fun!

ScreamAcres is a live action event where people can run around being chased by the undead.  By day GreenAcres is a farm park with animals and playgrounds for the family to enjoy.  By night, however, we were launched directly into the midst of a zombie apocalypse – with soldiers losing their grip on a ramshackle shelter and all hell breaking loose.

I found myself first hauled around who knows where in the dark, in the back of an army truck.  Then we were scanned for signs of the contagious virus inside the base by the soldiers.  After this the hazy grip on civilisation was lost, and we were over run with zombies. scream

There followed an adrenaline fuelled race through the dark, trying to avoid the undead.  Lost amongst disorientating smoke and lights, crawling around a maze and navigating various horrific rooms – all the while avoiding the swarming creatures.

I couldn’t help but get sucked into the whole scenario and whole heartedly become an active participant.  It was very easy to be absorbed into the ScreamAcres world, with dozens of actors creating the roles.

Though nerve-racking, I found myself working out how to avoid the zombies like I was right in the middle of an episode of The Walking Dead.  How do I get past this zombie?  Do I make a noise to distract them?  Crazy thoughts such as these became normal in my attempt to escape.

ScreamAcres was a total thrill; a real life role playing game with genuine frights.  It really made me think too, as I tried to work out the best way to survive the adventure.  The experience is extremely well put together, with a large cast all contributing to the scares and action.

Highly recommended – if you dare…!

The ScreamAcres website is here.

GreenAcres Animal Park, Mancot, Deeside, Flintshire

01244 531147

Email: info@screamacres.co.uk

28 Hallowe’en Horror Fests Later

28 Weeks Later (2007)

Six months after the original outbreak of the Rage virus, the UK is a devastated wasteland in quarantine.  Slowly, re-population of the City of London begins – in restricted zones under the guardianship of US led UN forces.

This sequel to 28 Days Later takes the initial premise further, and doesn’t waste time in exploring further the horror of the Infected.  The opening scenes in particular are designed to make the heart race, as we’re thrust back into the nightmare of the scenario for the first film.  In a short while though, the audience finds itself in a precarious new society as the military attempt to reintroduce life to the dead city. 28weekslater

Both Danny Boyle and Alex Garland, who created the original movie – act as Executive Producers on 28 Weeks Later.  Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo manages to take over the reigns and deliver a solid sequel.

28 Weeks Later does not have the shock value of it’s predecessor; although a  quality cast – including Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Renner, the lovely Rose Byrne and Idris Elba – ensure this is a film worth investing your time in.

I still rate the original 28 Days Later as one of the most intense, disturbing cinematic experiences I’ve ever had.  Sequels very rarely match up to the first film.  28 Weeks Later has a pretty bloody good go, though.

8/10

PS – you can read my write up of 28 Days Later here.

Hallowe’en Horror Fest of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Shaun (Simon Pegg) decides to get his life on track in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.  Together with best mate Ed (Nick Frost) and group of fellow survivors including his mum, step dad and (ex?) girlfriend, they group together to avoid the undead hordes.  In a pub. Shaun-of-the-dead

This black comedy from Director Edgar Wright and Pegg is very fine indeed.  There are some very funny moments and lots of detail, giving the film a depth and quality that can be enjoyed repeatedly.  Dark it my be, but there’s still plenty of humour and some poignancy too.

A homage to old zombie movies more than a spoof, there’s lots to get your (rotting) teeth into here.  It’s nice to see a zombie movie from a British perspective, where we get a cricket bat as the main defensive weapon.

If you’ve not seen Shaun of the Dead, check it out soon.

Fun fact: I first saw this film when I was getting a tattoo done.  Ouch!

8/10