It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born. For the curious, here are links to 2008, 2009 (a bad year), 2010, 2011, 2012 (when we left the blog behind), 2013, and 2014. Tribulation Tuesday Dead Rising: Watchtower (2015) Director: Zach Lipovsky Writer: Tim Carter As stated above, the schedule is subject to change; and after ten minutes of Zombie Hunter Rika I called an audible and we switched up to the Crackle original movie, Dead Rising: Watchtower. And it was a good call. You’ll have to forgive me because I am an old man, but apparently this is based on a video game that I have only a vague recollection of, but that wasn’t a problem. Sure, there were some cheesy shots that mimicked a first-person shooter and there was a decidedly mission-based structure to the plot, but in the end, Dead Rising: Watchtower was entertaining and tried to be something a little more complex than your typical zombie film. First up, we’re in a world where there have already been zombie outbreaks and people who survived bites are treated with a drug that they must take daily to keep their zombieism at bay. But even though they’re medicated, they’re still being kept in relative isolation. It’s at one of these isolation centers where we start our story. Chase (Jesse Metcalfe) and Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy) are internet “journalists” looking for their big break and they hope to find it documenting the government’s treatment of the infected. This is where they meet Crystal (Meghan Ory), a recovering zombie bite-victim who is trying to pass for normal (is “normal” insensitive when discussing potential zombies?). When the government’s drug supply suddenly stops working, all hell breaks loose and while Jordan gets out of the city, Chase and Crystal are trapped, trying to survive the long night before the military firebombs the whole place, burning it all to the ground. Since I didn’t have a sentimental attachment to the game upon which this film is based, I can safely say that it worked its ass off to win me over. It took the easy way out here and there, but there was enough originality and energy to keep me interested, even when it seemed to be losing track of its story. And there’s actually quite a bit of story. Not only do we have a zombie outbreak going on, Tim Carter’s script also throws in a rogue anarchist biker gang, a mystery regarding just why the anti-zombie drug isn’t working (is it the drug or a new resistant strain of the zombie plague?), segments from a news program interviewing an obnoxious survivor of a previous outbreak who has written a book and cashed in on his experiences (the always entertaining Rob Riggle), and a surprisingly poignant glimpse into the life of someone living with a highly contagious terminal illness. Big props go to Aleks Paunovic as the leader of the biker gang, Logan. He embraces the role with the same sort of gusto that one might expect from a Mad Max movie villain, while also grounding him in a sense of fatalistic nihilism. He was a nobody until the zombie plague came along. The apocalypse brings out the “best” in him and he won’t let civilization keep him from his true potential. Sure, it’s potential as a murdering rapist biker gang leader, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? And did I mention that the Soska Sisters cameo as zombies? They’re only in it for a second or two, but they made me happy. After the crushing boredom of last night’s film selections, Dead Rising: Watchtower started poorly, but ended up being extremely entertaining while pushing the boundaries of the typical zombie film’s story. This wasn’t just about surviving, or finding a new moral compass. This film had some fun with conspiracy theories and built a larger world to be explored in potential sequels. I can honestly say, I’d be interested in finding out what happens next. Survival of the Dead (2009) Writer/Director: George A. Romero I love George Romero. Always have. Say what you want about him, he practically invented a whole new genre of horror film and a whole new classification of movie monster. In 1968. Of late, he’s not been producing much work; and what has been released hasn’t really gotten a lot of positive critical attention. I liked Diary of the Dead, for what it was. I think I enjoyed it more than Land of the Dead, if only for the fresh take on his familiar preoccupations. But the negative reaction to Survival of the Dead actually put me off seeing this film for a long time (six years, to be exact). But I decided it was finally time to dive in and hope that the naysayers were wrong this time. They weren’t. Oh this isn’t as bad as people make it out to be, but it’s not very good at all. The dialogue is clunky and the characters are so broadly drawn that it’s hard to see them as real people. There are some interesting bits here and there, but by the time we get to the grand finale, it’s just a clusterfuck of stupid that made me sad. There’s a pull quote for you. I’m not going to waste your time breaking down all the problems this film had; mainly because there’s not a lot that jumps out as obvious points where it goes off the rails. Structurally it’s fine. The film does what it needs to do — the bare minimum of what it needs to do — but the execution is just so lackluster it feels like Romero didn’t really even care about finishing the film. Instead of characters or relationships he opted for caricatures and clichés, and even threw in a strange “twin nobody bothered to mention” to create some pointless tension. The idea that the undead can eventually be trained to possibly not eat us is sort of tossed in haphazardly, an afterthought almost, that only serves to validate the horrible things the film’s villain does. I suppose it was a daring choice to focus on a group of characters who were, from the very start, criminals and brigands — criminals and brigands who aren’t necessarily any better than the film’s baddies. More than anything else, this made me want to like the film more than I did. Ultimately, however, any message Romero may have had is muddled beyond repair and Survival of the Dead (what does that title even mean, really?) is best forgotten. Hell, the video game movie from earlier this evening had a more compelling plot and Billy Zane’s character yesterday had more charisma and life than anyone in this film. And I didn’t even mention to over-reliance on CG effects. Survival of the Dead is just sad, really. See larger image George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead (Ultimate Undead Edition) [Blu-ray] New From: $12.29 USD In Stock EZMM 2015 Day 3: Dead Rising: Watchtower (2015) & Survival of the Dead (2009)Dead Rising: WatchtowerSurvival of the Dead2.5Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.