Movie News: Upcoming Sequels and Remakes!

With 2013 now in full swing and summer not that far off, it’s once again time to announce all the remakes, relaunches and sequels that Hollywood has in the works. And much like last year, it seems the majority of the industry’s money is being placed on some safe bets. In other words, instead of investing in new and exciting projects, they are banking on previous successes and old favorites that are sure to cash in.

Oh Hollywood! Do you remember when it was exactly that you lost your passion for cinema and became a tired, old hack? I guess it’s not your fault, what with all the money that goes into generating these movies and all the money that comes out. Money! Screws up everything. And we the public are probably to blame too. If we didn’t lap your shit up, you’d stop slopping it us wouldn’t you?

But this isn’t a thought essay on the merits of marketing to the lowest common denominator or the ethics of mass consumption. Here’s some of what Hollywood and their affiliates have in store for us for the year of 2013. Surprisingly, not all of it sucks!

carrieThe original movie adaptation of Stephen King’s classic tale of alienation, teen judgement and psychotic, telekinetic revenge was… well, a classic! So why do we need a remake? Is there any possible reason other than wanting to cash in on the fame of the original? Or could it be they simply want to take advantage of updated special effects for the sake of the bloody prom night scene? Originally due to come out in March, the movie has been pushed back to October to coincide with Halloween. Good call there!

Catching Fire:
IFor fans of the Hunger Games, this return to the popular Suzanne Collins series promises to be big, bold and profitable. In this installment, Katniss Everdeen (once again played by Jennifer Lawrence) is on a Victory Tour of Panem and realizes that her win with Peeta has triggered a series of rebellions. Photos from the shoot have begun to leak, and the movie is slated for release in November. Probably won’t suck and I am interesting in seeing it, just as soon as I actually read the second book.

Fantastic Four:
Fantastic-Four-reboot-Josh-TrankOnce again, Hollywood is making a reboot just a few short years after a previous adaptation was already launched. They did the same with Spider Man last year and this time around, its Fantastic Four. Josh Trank, director of Chronicle, is rumored to be man who will be directing, and there are hints that the remake will look and feel somewhat like Alien. No news yet on who is being contemplated to play the lead roles, but rest assured, the remake will be splashy and a likely draw.

GI Joe: Retaliation:
After seeing its release pushed back a year in order to incorporate 3D, the sequel to the first G.I. Joe movie is slated to be released this May. In addition to starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bruce Willis is also making an appearance as a character that seems no different than John McClain or Church from The Expendables. No telling why the studio felt it was necessary for the movie to be shot in 3D considering all the action and big names, but I would imagine it’s because they didn’t have a lot of faith in these things alone.

Man of Steel:
man-of-steel-logoNews of the Superman remake has already been making waves, and considering the writing team, cast, and the trailers that have been released, it seems that this movie might actually be firing on all cylinders. Still, one has to wonder why the franchise needed to be repitched so soon after the last repitch, which took place back in the summer of 2007 with Superman Returns. Wasn’t that movie decent enough, and didn’t it drop all kinds of hints that there was more to come? But of course, some projects run out of steam and you have to start over fresh. And this is one relaunch that I will actually be seeing and (fingers crossed) enjoying thoroughly!

Smurfs 2:
Yeah, you read that right. It seems we can all look forward to a sequel to the original adaptation of that children’s cartoon that for some reason aired in summer of 2011. I mean there’s nostalgic appeal and then there’s this! What going on, Hollywood. Did some call for a retro free-for-all? Neil Patrick Harris will be reprising his role from the first, no doubt because he’s contractually obligated to! Oh, and its being shot in 3D, which of course means the studio has a lot of faith in it 😉

Thor: The Dark World:
Thor2Building on the success of the first movie, as well as the Avengers and all the other Marvel comics adaptations of late, this sequel sees Thor facing off against some “Dark Elves”, led by Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who, 28 Days Later, Shallow Grave, The Others). Rumor has it that this movie will be directed by Game of Thrones veteran Alan Taylor, who’s apparently bringing some of the same realism he brought to that series to Asgard. Will that include blood, guts, and plentiful nudity? Guess things got a little darker and dirtier since the first one!

The Wolverine:
wolverine_prequelThe third prequel in the X-Men franchise, this one once again focuses on Wolverine. Going with a storyline which is big with the fans of the original comic, this movie tells the story of how Wolverine went to Japan to learn the ways of the Samurai. Hugh Jackman will be reprising his role as the title character, and seems to have undergone some kind of surgical procedure to remove every ounce of fat for the role! Seriously, Hugh, I hope that’s photoshop because you don’t so much look buff as scary!

And that’s some of what the great filmakers of LA LA land plan to subject us to. Do you ever sit back and wonder just how many starving children could be fed with all the money that goes into financing these projects? Of course, I can’t criticize too much since I’ve already admitted that I’m planning to attend more than one. And what’s more, there are a few projects coming out which do seem exciting, original, or just plain overdue. But that’s another post!


Joss Wedon’s Viral “Zomney” Video

Does it seem funny how Presidential elections always fall so close to Halloween, but none of the candidates ever seem to take advantage of that fact to call their opponent a ghoul or a zombie? Or perhaps they might say that their opponent is the kind of person who would hand out toothpaste and dental floss on Halloween instead of sweet, sweet candy. I’d be less inclined to vote for them!

Well, finally, someone is putting their money where their mouth is and using this occasion to do a little Halloween-inspired mud raking. As I’m sure most people are aware by now, the person is Joss Whedon. And the method is the new viral video that claims that Romney is the man to lead America to something far better than economic recovery or general prosperity: the Zombie Apocalypse!

With the election just weeks away and the popularity of shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead, this video could not have been more timely. Going viral almost immediately after Whedon posted it, the video has gone on to attract some 1.8 million years. In essence, Whedon details how the policies proposed by Romney would create just the right environment for the walking dead to take over. These include cut backs in health care, education, social services, reproductive rights that will guarantee poverty, unemployment, overpopulation, disease, rioting; basically all the things that make a zombie apocalypse so very successful and inevitable.

What’s more, he believes that the zombie apocalypse will create a new kind of one percent – something Romney approves of – which will be composed of people who can run really fast, know parkour, and can make explosives. But by far the best line in it was “(are you) ready for the purity and courage of Mitt Romney’s apocalyptic vision? Mitt’s ready. He’s not afraid to face a ravening, gasping horde of subhumans, because that’s how he sees poor people already.” Regardless of your political inclination, you have to admit, that’s gold!

However, the real significance of this video, in my humble opinion, is in how demonstrates just how much this election is being influenced by the internet. Along with many other memes – such as Binders Full of Women and Big Bird being just two examples – have millions of people talking and are even upstaging conventional media outlets. Clearly, any campaigner who intents to win elections in the future will be the one who is new media savvy, a lesson which the Obama campaign has taken to heart. So far, they have clearly been leading the race in terms of internet promotion, but that would seem to be an indication of something else at work here.

For example, a clip featuring Girls creator Lena Dunham that equated voting with losing one’s virginity was posted just last Thursday has already gained over 2 million views. That, and Whedon’s video, are just two of half a  dozen videos that endorse Obama, each with roughly 2 million views apiece. While the Romney camp has posted a similar number of videos online, not one of them can measure up in terms of  sheer following or the impact they’ve had. Clearly, Obama has a numerical advantage when it comes to support, one which embraces the young and tech-savvy. And in an age of information, that’s a good edge to have! As I’m sure people are bound to say very soon, when it comes to internet campaigning, “Go viral or go home!”

Check out Whedon’s and Dunham’s videos below. Again, regardless of your political affiliations, I think you’ll agree that both are poignant and quite funny!


The Zombie Graph

Hey folks, remember this infographic from a few years back? I seem to remember posting about months ago, possibly in reference to 28 Days Later because I thought it was just so clever. Well, yesterday as I was typing out my zombie story, I got to thinking about this graph and how it applied to the basic rules I’ve seen in zombie movies.

As you can see, they not only classify zombies based on how fast and how smart they are, but also what form their zombie-hood takes. The basic breakdown they use involves three categories – undead, diseased, or possessed. This is one more than I acknowledged and I wonder if its apt. Can you really distinguish between diseased and undead when so many examples are both?

For example, the dead in The Walking Dead were the result of a disease, but they were totally undead creatures. A lot of time goes into explaining just how undead they are when they show that even dismembered and beheaded zombies are alive so long as their brains are still intact. This puts them apart from the zombies in 28 Days Later who were also the result of a virus but were still very much alive.

And then you’ve got the zombies in Dawn of the Dead (the 2004 remake) which were clearly the result of a virus (since the infection spread through bites) but were also undead. Shaun of the Dead follows the exact same pattern, with zombies who can withstand getting a pipe through the chest and losing a limb, but who won’t die until you shatter their brain pan. And even though I’ve never seen any of the Resident Evil movies, my understanding was they too were both undead and the result of a virus.

Am I picking nits here, because I’ve been known to do that. Or this could all just be the result of over-analysis as a result of over-research. I tend to do that as well. Yeah, it really doesn’t matter much, unless you’re trying to write for the genre and insist on understanding all the ins and outs of zombie creation. Mainly I just wanted to share the graph again because its fun and it puts people in mind of their favorite zombie flicks.

One question though… where would a Bath Salts zombie fall into all this? And how about that drunken weirdo in China? Do we need to revise this graph to take into account “substance abuse zombies”?


My First Zombie Story: Whiskey Delta!

Hello all! The other I decided that it was high time for me to try my hand at some Zombie literature. I’ve had an idea kicking around in my head, right next to where I was keeping “Frontera“, and it’s time to let it out! And so I give you the first draft of my post-apocalyptic zombie tale, “Whiskey Delta”!

Due to plenty of exposure to zombie flicks of late, zombie series, and zombie literature, I’ve come to learn a few things about the genre and what works, at least for me. Much like with Vampires, there are basically two big questions which determine what kind of film, book, series it’s going to be.

First of all, the zombies can either be the result of viral infection or the resurrected dead. This is what I would call the “paranormal vs. biological” realm and most franchises these days tend to go with the latter approach. Somehow, zombies that are the result of a viral infection are a lot more plausible than a biblical allegory.

Second, they can either be hotblooded living creatures that are consumed with the desire to kill, or slow, dottering undead creatures that look and smell horrible! This is what would be referred to as the “Infected vs. Undead” factor. The former is the kind of approach 28 Days Later took, while the latter is epitomized by such series as The Walking Dead.

Examples abound, and I hope people like the direction I took. Here is the first installment in the story, the prologue to the rest of the piece. And keep in mind, it’s a first draft so be gentle. And there’s naughty language too. And violence and zombies. But you already knew that last part didn’t ya? Enjoy!

Green and black. Always the same. Nothing ever looked different through a Starlight. No other hues, just different gradients of green on black. Some brilliant, some muted, but it didn’t matter. At night, all that mattered was what moved, and these days, it moved en masse.

Dezba lowered his scope and rubbed his eyes. After minutes spent looking at the green and black, even pitch black looked good. Less eerie, less filtered, less fake. The arms had a way of stiffening after holding up an A1.

The headset crackled, the voice calling on over the squad’s general frequency.

“Hold your position. Keep your eyes peeled.”

He heard a sigh from beside him. At the other side of the foxhole, Mill was also taking a break. In his case it was to stretch his neck.

“Are we even sure about this intel?”

“The Mage said it’s tight, so it’s tight,” he replied, repeating the mantra. That seemed to be enough, since Mill went right back to sighting down his sights again. Equipped with the SAW, which held no scope, he was the heavy gunner in their foxhole and couldn’t make a move until Dezba did.

Bringing the Starlight back into place, he got another eerie view of the landscape again. There were the glowing patches nearest them, bright from the moonlight that touched down on it, only small slices of black where shrubs cast their shadows. He scanned this way and that, checking out the side scenery. He spotted the other shining Humvee, the LAV, and the other foxholes that were cast in grey.

Beyond them was the relative dead of night. The line of Ponderosa pines that was black except for the few spots where the canopy opened to let things through. Not much was going on in there, until it chose to step into open…

He looked back to the roadway next; the thin stretch of dirt and gravel that the old man said was their spot. Others had dismissed him as a coot, somebody who had nothing better to do. But the Mage believed him, and so here they were. Sitting in wait, expecting that this was the point where the Whiskeys had been getting through the perimeter…

Finally the call came. “Eyes up”.

Dezba’s raised his gun into position. His heart began to pound and his hands tightened around the grips. Slowly, he scanned the horizon. No signs of movement. Next to him, Mill began to stir anxiously, waving the end of SAW around.

“Where are they?”

“I don’t see em,” said Dezba.

“What, man, I thought you Hopi fuckers could smell an enemy a mile away.”

Dezba smiled. “Wrong nation asshole.”

He scanned left. Something seemed to be moving by the tree line. He sucked in a breath and centered the scope there. Another stirring. The bushes at the edge were moving.

Damn coyotes, he thought. If they had come all this way because of some mangy little scavengers. And while they waited, the real hole in their line might very well be filling with Whiskeys, on their way in to find fresh victims. Tonight might even be the night that the damn things escalated and grabbed someone’s kid.

“Contact,” the Captain’s voice called. Deep and low. He had to be right.

Mill began to move his weapon back and forth with jerky movements.

“Shit… where?” he whispered. Dezba was wondering himself.

“Eleven o’clock high, by the treeline, coming towards the road.” Dezba and Mill both looked to their left. Small spots of bright green, black patches in their wake. “Confirmed, Whiskey Deltas at two hundred meters.”

More followed. They moved slowly, as usual, but were gradually converging on the dirt road. Just like the old man said…

“Standby,” the Captain ordered. Dezba did a quick check just to make sure his safety was off. At times like this, leaving it on could was just as deadly as forgetting to put it on. With what he knew to be an armed rifle, he watched the glowing ghouls walk until they reached the road.

And just like that, they changed course, as one. Each and every member of their little party turned and began walking on the gravel and dirt path that had been cleared from the brush. Moving, aiming the shadowy faces and milky eyes in the direction of the forest opposite them. It was almost enough to make one stop and think…

“Standby,” the Captain repeated, a note of urgency creeping into his voice.

The bodies kept moving, their heads coming into full view now as the last of them left the cover of the street for the moonlit path. He could see their milky eyes now, count every hair on their rotting heads.

“Get some,” came the order.

The line erupted in muzzle flashes and tracer fire, the field opposite kicking up dirt and fleshy bits a nanosecond later. Through his scope, Dezba saw nothing but bright flashes, pausing between shots to make sure his crosshairs were poised over a still-moving Whiskey.

“Get some! Get some!” he yelled between bursts.

Another one dropped. Movement from an arm sent him a few degrees to the right. The LAV must have seen it too because several tracers erupted around the downed body a second later. Dezba adjusted his fire again, closer to their line where the first of them had reached the road. Nothing but crawling bodies now, and he was sure to go right for the exposed heads.

“Cease fire!” came the order. “I say  again, cease fire!”

Not everybody seemed to hear, as guns were still going. Dezba shoved Mill with his boot to get him to stop. The last shot echoed out finally and new orders came.

“First Squad, enter the field and dispatch any movers.”

To his left, the Sarge from 1st was quick to respond. “Roger that, sir. First Squad is Oscar Mike.”

“Get to sit this one out, huh Cochise?”

Dezba scowled. How fucking hard was it to remember his real name? But then again not much could be expected from those he called friends. In the grand scheme of things Whiskey Tangos were just a step up from Whiskey Deltas. Dumb as shit and only half as ugly.

More shots rang out shortly thereafter. He brought the Starlight back up and caught a glimpse of 1st Squad doing its thing out in the field. One by one, he identified the six of them as they walked between the corpses, sending bullets from their M9’s into the heads of the downed bodies. The familiar tap, tap, taps of their guns was a reassuring sound at the end of a long night.

He picked out the Sarge just as his hand went to his head set to give the all clear.

“Eleven confirmed, sir. All dead.”

“Dead,” Mill said with a laugh. ”How fucked up is that?”

“You know what he means.”


His headset buzzed again with the final order. “Commence sanitizing.”

Dezba raised the Starlight to his eye for the last time to watch as 1st Squad finished with the last of it. One by one, the bodies were thrown together in the middle of the dirt road. The Sarge came around when they done and poured from a green can until they were thoroughly doused. He was sure to drop the scope before anyone set it all ablaze. Flames weren’t too pretty when seen through NV.

“Whoo, look at em burn,” Mill said. The pile blazed in no time at all, the fire rising to consume the filth and dead flesh.

“Too bad we can’t eat em, huh?” Dezba regretted saying it the second it came out of his mouth. It was all he could do to get the taste of filth out of his mouth now. Luckily Mill seemed to get a laugh from it.

“Cook em long enough, I’m sure it’s safe!”

Dezba suppressed a gag and set his foot on the top of the foxhole. He took a second to safety his weapon again before using it as a counterbalance to hoist himself out. 1st Squad cleaned up, which meant 2nd would have the less unenviable duty of making sure no more Whiskeys came this way again. Luckily, they brought enough motion detectors and frag mines to ensure that wouldn’t happen again.

“Guess the old man’s intel was right on the money,” Mill said, following him as he extricated the hole.

“You know what they say, man. The Mage knows.”

Zombie Guns, or How To Prepare for World War Z!

I blame myself in part, but what with all the talk of face-eating and Bath Salts in the news, there’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not there’s a Zombie Apocalypse on the way. Personally, I’m not one to go in for rumors and speculation, but I figure it’s better to be prepared! Hence why I’ve decided to do a post dedicated to Zombie Guns, or more specifically, firearms that will come in handy when the flesh-eating zombies start roaming your neighbourhoods!

Having done some posts of late involving futuristic guns, I’m already pretty well versed when it comes to recent developments in the firearms industry. However, I wanted to be thorough, so I also did a looking around and included some ideas from people who’ve already put some work in on the subject. And of course, I would be lost were it not for the common sense rules that come to us from all of movie, television and even literacy sources on the subject.

Whether it’s tv’s The Walking Dead, movies like Zombieland or 28 Days Later, or Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide, the basic rules for surviving zombies are the same. Go for the head, don’t be stingy with ammo, and sever all emotional attachments! And when it comes to weaponry that will be most effective in this regard, portability, capacitiy, firepower and versatility are all important.

Relying on all these basic criteria and what I know about modern weaponry, I now present a list of the top handguns, SMG’s, shotguns, and rifles, each entry with its own selling points and drawbacks. Have a look through them and see if any of them tickles your fancy! In the end, I figure we all get one from each category. Have fun picking your arsenal!

Small Arms:
The weapon of last resort. When you’re cornered and all other weapons have failed or run dry, your last option is to draw your sidearm and knock as many heads off as possible, preferably while falling back. And when this happens, you need a steady firearm that won’t run out of bullets fast. And when it does, it needs to be quick to reload. That way you can keep on knocking heads off without worrying about being bitten!

Beretta 92:
Here’s one everyone should recognize. Also known as the M9 or Beretta 9mm, this gun is a favorite amongst police forces and militaries in many countries, especially the US. Combining a 9mm round, dual action and a 15 round magazine, it is one of the best all around sidearms in existence. In a firefight against zombies, its also a good last resort. The rounds are large enough to take out zombie brains, the pistol is accurate and doesn’t have significant recoil, and the shooter can go awhile without reloading.

The only real downside is the fact that this 9mm round doesn’t the same power as some its larger-caliber kin. If rounds are misplaced, like in zombie’s body, they won’t do much to slow it down. Basically, anyone using this will have to make their shots count by getting them right in the brain pan. But with 15 rounds (16 if they load the chamber), they will have plenty of opportunity.

Colt 45:
Don’t ask me why, but when it comes to old school designs, big bullets seemed to be the norm. That is certainly true of the Colt M1911, aka. the Colt 45. Originally designed for shooting gangsters and trench warfare, this weapon is more than capable of splattering zombie brains all over the sidewalk.

An immediate downside of this weapon is its ammo capacity, a mere seven rounds. In addition, as a single action pistol, it can be less accurate than its peers. However, it can overcome the former with an extended (12 round) mag, and its simplicity and old-world durability can make up for any inaccuracy. Unlike other models, this sidearm can up to 6000 rounds without a single misfire or jam up.

Desert Eagle:
What do you get when you cross a magnum with a semi-automatic pistol? The Desert Eagle, available in both the .357, .44 and .50 calibers. Each of these are capable of decorating a wall with zombie brains, but the bigger the bullet, the bigger the mess! As a hand gun, it packs a hell of a lot of firepower into a relatively small package. And at close range, nothing short of shot gun or an assault rifle can match its power.

However, its greatest strengths also prove to be its greatest weaknesses. Its powerful punch means powerful kickback, which can make accuracy a bit of a problem. What’s more, the large caliber make capacity problematic, even at the smallest caliber (9 bullets for .357, 8 for .44, 7 for .50). An extended 14 round clip helps this, but not the central problem of accuracy.

Glock 17:

This brand of handgun has been made famous by countless TV shows and movies, mainly because it sees so much use by police and military forces around the world. A variation on the Glock 9, the Glock 17 is also a compact 9mm pistol, but boasts a 17 round magazine. That kind of capacity is useful when facing off against a Zombie hoard!

In terms of drawbacks, the Glock has few. Much like the 9mm, its power is somewhat limited when used against zombie torsos. In the hands of an accurate shooter, this isn’t a problem. But for anyone else, that 17 mag will come in handy!

When zombies get close, its good to have something quick and small at the ready to take them down. Submachineguns, PDW’s and compact full-autos all fall into this category. In this case, rate of fire and ammo capacity count for something, but in the end, accuracy is important too, since head shots are the most effective.

Calico M960:
Because of its unique, sleek design, the Calico is a mysterious gun that’s made many cinematic appearances, usually in connection to sci-fi franchises. However, when it comes to combating zombies, its chief benefits are firepower and ammo capacity. A 9mm weapon with a top-mounted, helical magazine, the Calico can hold up to 100 rounds. And because of the compact shape of the magazine, many can be kept on the gunner’s person without fear of being overlaiden.

Drawbacks? Can’t think of many. Given its two handles, 9mm caliber, ambidextrous option and the choice between semi-auto and full-auto firing modes, the Calico is well suited to taking down individual and crowds of zombies. One possible flaw is that the range is slightly limited, compared to that of an assault rifle.

Chang Feng SMG:
Here we have another submachinegun that features a top-mounted helical magazine, a compact design and a relatively high ammo capacity. And like many other guns on this list, it is a 9mm design which makes it just right for splattering zombie brains! It’s ability to switch between semi-auto and full auto can also be useful when one needs to switch from accuracy to “kill em all” mode.

The drawbacks of this compact design are simple. Being so compact, it can be a bit unruly when fired in full auto mode. Though it has a forward handle as well as the trigger grip, the spacing makes recoil a bit of a problem.

A favorite amongst law enforcement and military personnel everywhere, and for good reason. It’s compact size, firepower, weight and range are all very well suited to close combat firefights, which are common in urban environments. This makes it well suited to zombie killing as well. As usual, the 9mm round is prime brain-bashing ammo, and the third round clip ensures plenty of ammo.

At full auto, the gun fires 800 rounds a minute, but given its stability and accuracy, those rounds will be well placed. Compared to all that, its only real downside is its size. Compared to other SMG’s, this gun is more akin to an assault rifle than a compact machine pistol. Combined with other large weapons, this can create a problem.

Known as PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) this weapon is the living embodiment of compactness and automatic fire. Combining a 5.7mm round (the equivalent of .22 caliber) with a 50 bullet magazine, top-mounted, this weapon has enough punch to pulp zombie brains and can keep firing for some time. Its size and compact shape make it very portable as well.

However, there are some notable drawbacks. For starters, at full auto, its high rate of fire (900 rounds a minute) combined with its small size can produce some troublesome recoil. In addition, I hear tell that it has been known to jam up from time to time, which in a zombie fight can be truly fatal!

Built in Russia and a popular item amongst its armed forces, this 9mm machine pistol has a number of useful features when facing zombies. For starters, it combines an assault rifles rate of fire with the size and caliber of a pistol. This makes it highly compact and portable and a good weapon to have when in close quarters with a small group of zombies.

Alas, its magazine capacity is only 20-30 rounds, which at a 600 rpm rate of fire can go very fast! Its retractable stock can combat recoil, but also adds volume which reduces compactness. As a result, it is best when used in single fire mode like a mega-pistol.

TDI Kriss:
Yet another example of portability meeting firepower, and then producing some weird looking offspring. Basically, a Kriss is an SMG that combines .45 caliber rounds with a rate of fire that lies between 800-1100 rounds per minute. Its handled design also makes it a steady shooter, which combined with its firepower, makes it good at chopping off zombie heads.

The downside you say? Well, its magazine is terrible small for a weapon that fires so quickly. As it stands, the weapon comes standard with a 13 round mag, which at 800 rounds per minute would go within a 1.33 seconds! Apparently, a 28 round mag is being developed, but that too would be gone in 2.1 seconds. This is fine if you’re happy shooting at semi-auto, but until they come up with a 50 round mag, this weapon is too quick for zombie fights.

“Close Encounters” – aka. Shotguns:
When it comes to zombie hunting, shotguns are mighty handy. Not only do they pack a lot of punch, a single shot can take a zombie’s head clean off. And even if you miss the head, a hewed arm or leg can also slow a zombie down considerably. Here, accuracy doesn’t count for a lot, but ammo capacity certainly does. When you’re blasting zombies, the last thing you want to hear is an empty click.

Franchi SPAS-12:
Originally designed for sport shooting, this automatic shotgun has become a mainstay amongst police and military forces everywhere. Able to shoot in either the pump action or semi-automatic firing modes, it is renowned for versatility, reliability, and firepower. It’s eight round capacity is also highly respectable as ammo capacities go.

The only drawbacks, compared to other weapons in this category, is its limited ammo supply. Though accurate and not prone to mechanical problems, which can happen in automatic designs, the SPAS 12 can deplete its ammo quicker and then takes time to reload.

Kel Tec KSG:
A cutting-edge design, boasting duel feed magazines and compact dimensions, this weapon is well suited for anti-zombie defense! In total, it holds 14 rounds, as is operated by pump action. It’s two handles also ensure a relative degree of accuracy, making head shots a real possibility.

Unfortunately, the weapon has two distinct drawbacks. Though it holds a highly respectable 14 shots between its two magazines, the pump action slows it down somewhat. In addition, it must be reloaded manually, and between its two tubes, that can take some time. This demands that the user find cover after exhausting their supply of ammo, or spend only part of it before taking time to reload.

Manufactured in South Africa, the Striker Protecta was specifically designed to be a counter-insurgency, high capacity weapon with a hell of a lot of punch. It’s size and shape make it compact and portable, and its 12 round magazine give it enough capacity for a prolonged firefight.

In terms of drawbacks, the Strikers has a few. Though it has a good capacity, it has to be reloaded manually, which can take some time. In addition, even though its compact, the drum magazine can make it bulky and awkward to carry. However, it can make up for this since it doesn’t require additional magazines, just a simple ammo belt, in order to be reloaded.

Here is a somewhat interesting design. Combining the familiar profile of an assault rifle with the concept of a shotgun, the USAS-12 also manages to combine a high capacity with a lot of firepower! The standard box magazine can hold 10 shots, but the drum magazine gives it a robust twenty. However, this is balanced by the fact that the ten can be reloaded by simply slamming a new box into place, whereas the twenty must be reloaded manually.

The only potential drawback of this weapon is its rate of fire. In addition to being semi-automatic, the gunner does not need to pull the trigger multiple times to get multiple shots off. This can cause have a saturation effect, but can also waist ammo. Remember, zombies hunt in packs, so saturation is only useful in real close quarters.

Last, but not least, is the category of rifles. Basically, these are the weapons that you want for long range encounters and sniping. In this case, what matters most are accuracy and ammo capacity. Even small caliber rifles have enough muzzle velocity to kill with a head shot, so in the end what matters is the ability to place that shot on target. Once you got that down, you want to make sure you can do it again, and again, and then again some more…

Barrett XM500:
This .50 cal sniper rifle design, which is the most recent to come out of the US, is lighter and more compact that its peers. And its sheer firepower and range would make it a real Zombie killer. Just imagine, .50 cal slugs that are capable of taking a zombie’s head off, literally! A hit to the torso will limb will all dismember and tear them apart too. Even if that’s not fatal, its sure to slow them down a ton!

However, the weapon does come with its share of drawbacks. Though good for long-range encounters, it would be of little use up close since it can only be fired while in a prone position. It’s ammo capacity is also lacking, at ten rounds a magazine, and despite its more compact and light design, she’s still tough to get around in a hurry.In short, good for support fire, not the best to have on its own.

Daewoo K11:
Here we have the Korean made dual caliber rifle that is part of the larger OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon) program. Combining a standard 5.56mm assault rifle with a built-in grenade launcher, this weapon is highly versatile, has good range and is very powerful. It’s regular ammo are more than capable of smashing zombie heads, and the grenades are good to disperse zombie crowds.

The drawbacks are clear. The K11 comes with a high-tech scope, but this is of little use when it comes to zombies. The added weight and bulkiness of it can also be a problem. In short, its delivers in all areas except portability, which in the end can mean the difference between life and death.

M16A2 Assault Rifle:
This version of the M16 rifle is an upgraded model of the weapon that seen service with US armed forces since Vietnam. In addition to better ammo and less blowback, the A2 has the ability to carry the M203 40mm grenade launcher, which is a fine addition for zombie killing. Combined with the standard 5.56mm round, a good muzzle velocity and a 30 round magazine, the M16 is accurate, has good range, and a respectable capacity.

Compared to bullpup rifles, its not very compact, but this problem is pretty minor since it can be carried for its stock or slung without difficulty. The only other thing is the grenade launcher, which while powerful addition can take some time to reload. As a single shot, slide-loader, the gunner is going to be up against it to get ammo in between shots. Best when used sparingly and at long range between shots from the rifle.

The name stands for Special Forces Combat Assault Rifle, which is precisely who this weapon was designed for. As a result, its accurate, powerful, compact, and very versatile. In addition to its 30 round 5.56mm rifle, it can be upgraded to carry a 40mm grenade launcher, red dot or holographic sites, tactical grips near the front, and probably some other things! All of this adds up to a very functional and versatile weapon.

Of course, all these modifications can be counterproductive. For instance, some modifications rules out others, such as tactical grips making a grenade launcher impossible. At the same time, too many attachments can make the gun bulky and cumbersome. The best configuration for fighting zombies would likely be a tactical grip for stability (ensuring better accuracy) or a 40mm grenade launcher for added punch. But as usual, that grenade launcher is a single shot weapon which takes time to load.

Steyr AUG:
I knew I couldn’t complete this list without including at least one bullpup assault rifle. And when it comes to bullpups, the AUG is arguably the best. Light-weight, compact, accurate and powerful, the Steyr AUG is ideal for zombie hunting. With its magazine loaded at the rear, this gun cuts down on bulk while at the same time adding muzzle velocity. Combined with a 42 round magazine, the AUG can kill zombies longer than most.

One downside is a potential lack of versatility. The standard AUG comes with a tactical grip that ensures more stability and accuracy while firing. This can be taken out to enable a grenade launcher, but only at the cost of accuracy. The scope can also be upgraded, but red sights and holographics are no more effective than its standard 1.5x scope. In the end, this gun is best as it is.

Suit Up!:
Well, that about does it, doesn’t it? Now it comes time to pick which weapons we want on our persons when the zombies come knocking. God, I feel like I’m making a role playing game, but if that were true, I’d have to give every player an upper weight limit or capacity based on their size. That’d really make things interesting! Alas, I can only do a four category thing right now with the available choices. So.. here’s what I’m taking

Sidearm: Beretta 92 (I love the way it looks)
SMG: Calico (it had me at 100 rounds!)
Shotgun: USAS-12, 10 round box magazine (I figure these will be easier to carry and quicker to change. I shall try to be sparing with my shots)
Rifle: Steyr AUG (its accuracy and 42 round clip ought to be ideal for zombie hunting. I was thinking the K11 because of its grenade launcher, but its size and clumsiness would get in my way)

Well, that’s me done. Anyone else want to take a run?

28 Days Later…

Hello all! In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d jump ahead on my review list again and cover a zombie flick! And not just any zombie flick, a good, scary and even poignant thriller known as 28 Days Later! Not only is this movie a cult favorite, its also a films that got in on the ground floor of this new zombie craze.

Yes, for some reason, zombie movies have been pretty popular in the new millennium. Maybe it’s a retro thing, but it seems that within the last ten years, there have been a plethora of writers/directors who have breathed new life into this old movie genre. After 28 Days was released in 2002, it was followed by the Resident Evil movie, House of the Dead in 2003 (another video game adaptation), the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004), Shaun of the Dead, Doom (2005), Slither (2006), The Zombie Diaries, I Am Omega (2007), I Am Legend, Day of the Dead (2008, another remake), followed by Quarantine, Zombieland in 2009, and the list goes on. In fact, I’m not even taking the time to mention all the sequels and lesser known titles that came between these ones!

The point is, whereas in previous decades, people could expect a low-budget zombie movie at least once a year, since 2000, there have been multiple entries every year, sometimes as many as a dozen! And with this explosion in titles, there’s been some variety to how zombies were presented as well. Whereas in the old zombie classics, zombies were slow witted and slow moving – literally the walking dead – in new movies and re-imaginings, zombies were fast moving and sometimes highly intelligent. In fact, there’s even a neat table over at Yahoo movies that places zombie films within the context of these two criteria:

How Dangerous Is A Zombie?

If one were to use that table to discuss this movie, the zombies would be placed on the high end of both speed and intelligence, making them VERY dangerous. And, as I will mention soon enough, their take on the creatures was also quite realistic, at least when compared to other franchises. Okay, get comfortable and be ready to get scared, its horror movie time!

Compared to most horror films, 28 Days had a relatively fair budget of about 5 million pounds or 7 million US$ (based on the 2002 rate of exchange). It’s overall gross, however, was over 82.7 million dollars, and it even spawned a graphic novel and a sequel (haven’t seen or read them yet, but working on it ;)). In addition, the movie was the result of collaboration between writer Alex Garland and esteemed British director Daniel Boyle, whose film credits include Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, Sunshine,Slumdog Millionaire and The Beach (which Garland also wrote).

The film was also well received by audiences and critics, earning itself several awards for direction, cinematography and acting in both Europe and the US in the process. It was even placed on two top 100 and one top 20 list as one of the best horror movies of all time. In addition to its direction and acting, critics praised it for its story, allegory and humanistic elements. In short, the movie went in with a modest budget and limited fanfare, but came out a cult hit and a commercial success. Little wonder why its seen as one of the best movies of the genre, people love underdogs as much as they do hidden gems!

28 Days Later essentially begins with an act of activism, where some well-meaning animal rights people storm into an animal testing facility and try to free some chimpanzees who are undergoing weird tests. In the course of the break-in, one of the doctors tries to stop them, saying that the chimps are infected with “rage”. This opening kind of seemed hokey to me at first, but afterward I came to see how effective it was. We get a brief prologue that tells us how things began, but which doesn’t weight us down with long-winded or unlikely explanations.

This is always a challenge in zombie movies, explaining how and why the dead are up and walking. In this case, they chose to go with a virus that was like super-rabies, making the infected extremely violent and spreading through the exchange of bodily fluids. Kind of brilliant if you think about it, explains all the zombie-like behavior while still being somewhat plausible. Of course, they are basically saying that animal rights activists will be responsible for the apocalypse, but who cares? It’s fiction!

We then cut to a hospital where the main character – a bike courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy*) – wakes up from a coma and realizes he’s all alone (for some reason, we get a full-frontal shot of his junk here too!) He then gets up and begins to look for answers and food, finding only abandoned buildings and empty streets. After making his way out into central London, he quickly realizes something terrible must have happened. All the missing signs and news pinups about the “End of Days” seem to attest to that. Naturally, he travels to a church where he finds pews filled with corpses, and one survivor, who for some reason seems to want to bite him…

*People may remember Murphy as The Scare Crow in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

But of course, he is narrowly saved by two healthy people – a woman named Selena (Naomi Harris) and her friend – who explain to him what’s been going on. Here too, the exposition was kept mercifully brief, the two basically telling him that a virus has devastated the country and that its spread through blood, bites, etc. He agrees to team up with them, but only if they can swing by his house, as he needs to know if his parents are still alive. Naturally, they are not, and infected people soon attack them. Selena’s friend is bitten in the process, and she is forced to kill him. Jim is upset by this, but Selena explains that this is how it is now. Needless sentiment lead to hesitation, which in turn leads to death. Now Selena and Jim are alone to wander the streets looking for other survivors.

Their search brings them to an apartment building where a father and daughter are holed up, and using Christmas lights to attract other survivors. A desperate chase follows as they are forced to run up the stairs as the infected chase them. But eventually they get to the landing where the father, Frank (Brendon Gleeson), is waiting for them in full riot gear! After beating down the infected, he lets them in and they meet his daughter, Hanna (Megan Burns), and begin swapping plans. It seems Frank has a radio and from their high elevation, they’ve been able to picking up a military radio transmission coming from Manchester that tells of a cure, food and shelter. The four of them make plans to go there straightaway.

Getting there is an adventure to be sure, the four having to flee from infected as they get out of the city and there being a few pacing scenes along the way. But eventually, they arrive to find the town of Manchester on fire, and that the transmission is coming from a military base nearby. However, the base appears to be deserted, the only inhabitants being infected crows and bodies. What follows is a heart wrenching scene where Frank gets a drop of blood in his eye and begins to change. He has just enough time to tell his daughter that he loves her before they realize he’s been infected and he goes bat-shit crazy! That’s when the army men reveal themselves and open fire on Frank!

They are then taken to the base’s main compound where the CO, Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston), welcomes them. Jim and Selena are cautiously optimistic now that they have some protection and a roof over their head, but Hannah is understandably bitter. Her father is dead, after all, and these men were responsible. In the course of the next few days, the Major shows Jim their set up and explains what they’re doing. Seems they’ve been luring the infected to the compound and then killing them with bullets and landmines. They’ve also been keeping a live one for study so they can see how long they survive without the ability to feed. This one they call Mailer, since he was once one of them…

However, things go awry when a few things become clear. For one, the boys seem to like Selena, and are quite pushy on that fact. When Jim tries to intervene to keep them off her, the Major explains that his mens’ sanity has been hanging by a thread and he’s had to make promises to keep their morale from collapsing and them from offing themselves. In short, he promised them women… Suddenly, the signal, the one that lured them in with promises of safety, food and a cure makes perfect sense. The Major and his men, who think the world has gone to hell, are looking to create their own little society here, and need breeding stock! Jim resists, as does one of the soldiers, and the Major orders that they be shot.

While Selena and Hannah are forced to don dresses and prepare for an evening of rape, Jim manages to give the soldiers the slip and runs off. Before the other soldier is shot, he gives Jim some words of encouragement. The Major and the others insist the world is dying, he says, but he’s seen planes going overhead and thinks that’s a pretty strong indication that the carnage must be reserved to Britain. Jim takes some hope from this too, and begins to hatch a plan. He returns to the abandoned outpost where they first met the Major’s men and sets off the siren. This lures the Major and some of his troops, as they know that the siren will draw unwanted attention. When they show up, Jim manages to kill some of them, with the help of some infected, of course.

Back at the base, Selena sets Hanna free and is cornered by one of the soldiers who is about to rape her. However, Jim has returned to the base at this point and unleashes Mailer on them. While he creates all kinds of carnage, Jim manages to break in and kill the soldier who was going to rape Selena with his bare hands. Selena thinks he’s been infected too and is prepared to kill him, but hesitates just long enough to realize he’s clean. We quickly realize that she’s in love with Jim now, as she showed no hesitation when killing her old companion. The two kiss and reunite with Hannah, and all three commandeer a vehicle outside and prepare to drive off.

However, Major West is waiting for them and shoots Jim in the stomach. But Mailer shows up in time to grab West before he can shoot anyone else, and Hannah drives while Selena tends to Jim’s wound. The three then drive to a hospital where Selena tends to his wounds in a frantic montage of quick cut-scenes. Then, after being in a coma for another 28 days, Jim wakes up and finds that he’s recovering in bed, this time in some remote cottage. The three of them are now in the countryside where Hannah and Selena have prepared a massive cloth banner that spells out HELLO. Jim is now awake just in time to help them deploy it and to see a Finnish fighter jet fly overhead. The movie ends with Selena asking sarcastically, “Do you think he saw us this time?”

Apparently, Boyle and Garland also came up with a number of alternate endings as well, two of which were filmed and a third which never made it past storyboard. In the first, which was meant to be the original ending, Jim dies in the hospital, leaving Selena and Hannah to carry on. However, this ending was rejected after some test screening audiences said it was “too bleak”. Though the scene was meant to convey that the two ladies survived, audiences believed they were marching off to certain death. The second alternate ending included the rescue banner at the very end, but without Jim being present, so as to show that the ladies made it without him.

A third, which never made it past storyboard, was a radical departure. In this one, Jim, Selena, Hannah and Frank converge on a medical facility rather than a military base, the same one where the infected apes escaped from at the beginning. Frank is still infected, but it turns out that there is a cure available here. Unfortunately, the doctor at the base informs them that the cure consists of a full blood transfusion, and only Jim is a blood match. He therefore sacrifices himself to save Frank, and the movie ends. This ending was rejected by Boyle and Garland though, since they realized it was unrealistic. In essence, if an infection can spread through even a drop of blood, no amount of transfusing would work!

While they didn’t go with the ending they wanted, the movie still conveyed the same message all around. In it, we are given a pretty realistic take on zombies, one which ties in with the dangers of epidemics and how modern, industrial societies are vulnerable to infectious diseases. In addition, we get a story that’s chock full of allegory about the human condition. Whereas some people survive by becoming selfish and doing whatever they have to to go on – in Selena’s case, cutting all ties, in the Major’s case, promising his men women – ultimately, people are redeemed through acts of self-sacrifice and empathy.

Frank shows this through his abundant sense of generosity and how he’ll do anything to make sure his daughter survives. Selena demonstrates this by saving Jim and Hannah, allowing herself to care for them even though she’s presumably become hardened and only cares about staying alive. And of course, Jim demonstrates this by putting himself in danger to save Selena and Hannah, even though it nearly costs him his life. And of course, the three make it in the end only by mutual dependency and love. There’s even the bit about the rogue soldier who would rather die than give in to hopelessness and take part in a gang rape.

And that’s the movie. Simple, scary, effective and entertaining! It’s rare that a movie will come along that can cover all these bases, but this one managed to do it quite well. Its also a reminder that within the realm of low-budget cinema, there are some genuine gems waiting to be found. Hell, one could even make the case that low budgets are essential to the success of some movies. It ensures that there aren’t any over-the-top special effects to make it look fake, or a sense of mass appeal to water down the plot. And it just goes to show you what can happen when good acting, writing and direction come together!

28 Days Later
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Plot: 9/10
Direction: 9/10
Total: 9/10

Updated Review List

Hello, and welcome to my updated review list. After many, many reviews and plenty of change-ups in the lineup, I decided it was time to revise my master playlist. I do this mainly for the sake of being succinct, seeing as how I put up three in the last two months. The first was dedicated to initial ideas for reviews, the second to all the ones I forgot, and a third for animes that I realized were being neglected. There was also the constant need to go back and alter these lists so that I could indicate which reviews were covered and when. So to simplify things, here is my new master list, with the titles that have already been covered listed first with the date of their review provided. As usual, I will try to stick to this lineup, but some of the later ones might be brought forward if it seems like its taking too long to get to them.

Enjoy! Oh, and fyi, suggestion are still welcome!

1. Terminator: Salvation – July 7th
2. Independence Day – July 9th
3. Blade Runner – July 10th
4. Alien franchise (movies 1 through 4) – July 10th, July 11th…
5. Dune (1984, and the 2000 miniseries) – July 14th, 16th, and 18th
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey – July 21st
10. Starship Troopers – July 28th
11. Akira – Aug. 2nd
12. The Terminator franchise (movies 1 through 3) – Aug. 7th, Aug. 13th…
13. Equilibrium – Aug. 14th
14. The Star Wars prequels – Aug. 24th and 25th
15. The Matrix Trilogy – Sept. 4th, 11th, and 17th
16. Strange Days – Oct. 18th
17. Ghost in the Shell
18. V for Vendetta – Oct. 21st
19. Avatar – Sept. 29th
20. District 9
21. I, Robot – Sept. 27th
22. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
23. 28 Days Later – Oct. 28th
24. Ninja Scroll
25. A Clockwork Orange
26. Predator franchise (1, 2, and Predators)
27. Screamers (first in the Philip K Dick lineup)
28. Impostor
29. Paycheck
30. A Scanner Darkly
31. The Adjustment Bureau (finishing off the PKD segment)
32. Lord of the Rings (like I said, some fantasy will slip in, and allowances must be made for such classics!)
33. Willow (another fantasy honorable mention)
34. Solaris (the original and the Soderberg remake) – thanks to Tom Sharp for the suggestion!
35. Inception
36. Metropolis
37. Princess Mononoke
38. Vampire Hunter D.
39. Sunshine
40. Children of Men
41. The Watchmen – Oct. 12th
42. Tron (original, and Legacy)
43. Wall-E
44. Twelve Monkeys
45. Iron Man

More Reviews!

Hello all! Turns out, I came up with some additional titles to review sooner than I would have thought. Since I started doing them, friends have made recommendations which I felt I had to acknowledge. In addition, more crappy and awesome titles came to mind. And last, but certainly not least, I’ve been made aware of more classics that I didn’t even realized qualified. And then there was the Matrix trilogy. A no-brainer, given its impact and influence, but which somehow still managed to slip under my radar! So, here’s the list of my next fifteen reviews! Again, this list is not written in stone, the order may change and additional titles will make it in based on friend’s recommendations or the slightest whim! Enjoy!

1. I, Robot
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. 28 Days Later
4. Equilibrium (Aug. 14th)
5. Sunshine
6. Children of Men
7. Watchmen
8. Tron: Legacy
9. The Matrix
10. Matrix Sequels
11. Wall-E
12. Twelve Monkeys
13. Iron Man
14. Universal Soldier
15. The Road Warrior