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Now in our seventh calendar year
PCR #345  (Vol. 7, No. 44)  This edition is for the week of October 30--November 5, 2006.

BORAT: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan †by Mike Smith
Indie Film Review:
"Blood Descendants" by Mike Smith
Horror-Mania: Three Big Events †by Andy Lalino
Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! Part One †by Drew Reiber
Hey Everyone, Let's Put On A Show....Music That Rocks (And Rolls)...Land Shark Ho!...Where In The Hell Was She Staying?...Get Well Soon....Back In The '70s....Coming Soon....Passing On....My Favorite Films, Part 44: "Annie Hall" †by Mike Smith
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Chiller Cinema by Drew Reiber

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!

Part 1

All the film industry ever does is prove my theory that trends run on a cycle averaging about 20 years. Back in 1985, I remember zombies being the most prevalent (and relevant) thematic monster of the era, parading around in everything from movies (Day of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, etc.), to television (The Midnight Hour) and even music videos (Thriller, duh). The return of this popular subgenre has been nothing short of tsunami waves in the number of films that seemingly get bigger and bigger per year. The last 5 years alone have been peppered with dozens of these films, from intelligent and progressive major features to horrible remakes, sequels and direct-to-video knockoffs.

The one-two punch of 28 Days Later and Resident Evil had enough of an impact to send studios and independents scrambling for undead content. This heralded the return of several major franchises including Romeroís Dead series, Return of the Living Dead (two offensively bad sequels) and Re-Animator. The trend has already reached ridiculous enough proportions to produce the brilliant satire Shaun of the Dead and even appropriately mindless titles like the upcoming, Orlando-lensed Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! Hell, even the crazy Italians like Bruno Mattei (Zombi 3) have been getting back into the game!

As the zombie movies continue to multiply exponentially, I thought it would be interesting to take a look ahead as to what might lay in store for the fans. I easily counted 15 releases that have been getting buzz, but Iím not going to waste your time and cover the ever-increasing cacophony of Romero remakes or rip-offs (*cough*28*cough*Later*cough). Iím also sure that Paul W.S. Andersonís continuous Resident Evil sequels will do just fine without my coverage too. Instead, letís look into some of the more intriguing developments.

Fido (March 9, 2007)
Receiving plenty of good reviews from its recent debut at the Toronto Film Festival, writer/director Andrew Currie looks to be the likeliest filmmaker to follow-up the theme of undying, contemporary commercialism excellently lobbied just before the end credits of Edgar Wrightís Shaun of the Dead. Set in a 1950ís-like civilization that survived a zombie apocalypse, Fido explores the disturbing underbelly of the pure, white American dream of the mid-20th century given life through the undead. Though also satirical in flavor, like Shaun, the film picks up in a world where the zombies have been domesticated and absorbed into the service of immortal slave labor.

Everything is clean and bright, or so it seems, thanks to a corporation that specializes in selling affordable personal zombies to do your chores, thanks to a handy, dandy electronic collar that will guarantee your safety. A young boy named Timmy quickly bonds with a zombie named Fido, just like Lassie, and once it starts to eat the bullies who picked on him, he does his best to hide the grisly turn of events. I wonder if there are consequences? The film stars Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2) and Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix trilogy) as a picture-perfect married couple, Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as their creepy neighbor and Billy Connolly (A Series of Unfortunate Events) as the surely lovable Fido.

George A. Romeroís Diary of the Dead (Spring 2007)
This marks the horror auteurís return to ultra low-budget filmmaking after his political epic Land of the Dead. Diary will take us back to the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, although the starting point has been updated to modern day. As in the original Night of the Living Dead, you will also see a return to his black & white, minimalist approach. Originally conceived as a TV series that Romero intended to write and produce, the story follows a group of young filmmakers setting out to make a horror movie of their own and manage to find themselves smack dab in the middle of the end of the world. Capturing the events with their own camera, in what I would imagine is a blend of his older documentary style found in Night with a subject camera conceit similar to The Blair Witch Project, the film will also rely less on large-scale effects and score.

Carrying over many of the great members of his Canadian crew on Land, Diary will also showcase the return of previous Romero collaborator John Harrison as producer. Back in the days of Laurel Entertainment, Harrison was a composer and 1st A.D. (Creepshow, Day of the Dead) before turning into a successful writer/director/producer in his own right, on both features (Tales from the Darkside) and mini-series (Dune & Children of Dune). KNB make-up/effects master Greg Nicotero will also be lending a hand. Diary is already in production and is considering a theatrical release early next year. Hopefully, the release pattern will more intelligent than 2005ís Land, when the film was squeezed between the openings of both Batman Begins and War of the Worlds. Good going, Universal!

"Chiller Cinema" is ©2006 by Drew Reiber.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.