Exit Humanity Review

“Exit Humanity” (2011) was a nice departure from the usual zombie flick as of late, by far a great example of cinema and not just a movie.

Exit HumanityTold with use of a narrator, the movie focuses on the reading of an old journal written by a Civil War soldier, named Edward Young, that describes the now zombie filled world a decade after the end of the war.

What starts out as one mans quest to live contently with his wife and son in the countryside turns into something he’d never have imagined. With his wife and son dead, both zombies who were mercifully put down by his own hands, he treks out alone headed towards the one place he might find some peace, a place he never got the chance to take his son to when he was alive.

But the journey is put on hold as a chance meeting with Isaac, a fellow soldier, recruits his help to save his sister, Emma, from a gang of rebel military men who have taken to kidnapping survivors and exposing them to zombie bites in the hope to find a cure. Edward’s descent into madness (and his constant yelling) takes a turn when Emma is found to be immune to the scourge, having been bitten a few weeks prior with no side effects, and the initial cause of the entire zombie apocalypse is discovered. Soon the General and his men come for them, for the cure and for  justice.

Mark Gibson does a great job for his first major role in portraying a family man who has lost everything to the scourge. It is solely the narration that tops him, with Brian Cox’s haunting voice really bringing in the emotion to the film, especially when combined with its amazing soundtrack. Isaac (Adam Seybold) and his sister Emma (Jordan Hayes) along with the accused witch Eve (Dee Wallace) round out Edward’s new family and help him reclaim a reason for living.

The photography is beautiful, purposely bleached out to create this eerie period piece. Animation is used in a few scenes to hurry along the already lengthy story’s progression which adds a nice flare to the entire package. Even the zombie makeup isn’t too bad, with the director having no qualms about showing them in full sunlight and not just under cover of darkness.

Mark Gibson in 2011's "Exit Humanity"

Mark Gibson in 2011’s “Exit Humanity”

If your idea of a good zombie flick comprise wall to wall zombies, brain splatters, and endless running and shooting, this is not the movie for you. Storytelling and emotion are the main focus (see “YellowBrickRoad” for another great example), while sorrow and heartbreak keep the number of feel good moments to the bare minimum. If there is a con to this movie it’s the journal itself. Its presence throughout almost reveals the ending ahead of time, making you less fearful for something to happen to our mighty protagonist.

Overall, I enjoyed “Exit Humanity” tremendously, it is a definite re-watch for me. I don’t know that I would rank it as high as some of the other films reviewed here at ӔHorror, but it’s still a great film.

With “Special Thanks To All The zombies.” (Listed in the credits of the f ilm.)


Isolation Review

If Tobe Hooper was going to do a movie in the vein of ‘Alien‘, I think this might have been one of his possible outcomes.

This 2005 Irish gem has been a favorite of mine ever since I first saw it. Creature features are my favorite type of Horror film and this is one of the better ones. It struck close to home due to the moomoos (cows for all you average laymen) involved, I just hate to see such “gentle” creatures get hurt. I felt a bit disturbed at times watching it due to that which was a nice twist considering most movies of late have been a little weak in that aspect and I’m one who craves the uncomfortable in my horror.

In ‘Isolation‘, Dan Reilly (John Lynch) runs a dilapidated cattle farm that has definitely seen better days. With equipment that has been unused for who knows how long and falling revenues, he gives in and says yes to hosting laboratory tests on his cattle involving a genetic experiment that would allow cattle to produce offspring that were more fertile and able to grow faster. At first only one cattle is involved and when it produces a deformed calf, it and its calf are put down. An autopsy on the calf, performed by Dan’s ex-girlfriend Orla (Essie Davis), reveals that something has gone terribly wrong in the experiment.

The experiment, setup by John (Marcel Iures) from Bovine Genetics Technology, produced a calf that was born pregnant. These feti, six in total, all appear to be some kind of mutated calf creature with unnatural teeth. You quickly find out that only five made it to cold storage giving you a heads up on what to expect the rest of the film.

Dan and the others are joined by Jamie (Sean Harris) and Mary (Ruth Negga), a pair of runaway lovers who have been using Dan’s property to hide out on. Previously asked to leave the property by morning, their assistance to Dan with the birth of the deformed calf convinces Dan to let them stay. Later in the film, you can only imagine how they wished they would had left.

The cinematography is very reminiscent of what I have come to expect from someone like Hopper, reminding me of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘ in more than a dozen scenes. (If I hadn’t known this movie was directed by Billy O’Brien, I’d have thought otherwise.) With excellent lighting as well as soundtrack you are quickly drawn into the story from start to finish. Gore is minimal, it is more autopsy than splatterfest, and it doesn’t detract from the suspense.

With such a small cast you realize that deaths will be on short order, but they are spaced apart well enough that the suspense never really disperses from one scene to the next. Interesting enough, they do not all come from the mutated calf creature which sets you on edge when you realize you may not know the extents to which the film will go.

For having so few feature films under his belt, I was quite impressed with director Billy O’Brien. I’m very interested in seeing his other works as well as the other works of Marcel and Ruth who both gave great performances. Even the ending doesn’t truly let you off the hook, leaving you with the usual feeling of grim foretelling.

As you might expect, nothing here is truly original. However what they have managed to pull off with an isolated farmyard, a handful of ordinary characters, and a bunch of stars from The Far Side (the moomoos) is genuinely amazing and definitely worth a gander.


The Ghost Galleon Review

The Ghost Galleon’ (1974) is the third movie in Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead series and almost stands up to the previous entries. I reviewed the first movie, ‘Tombs of the Blind Dead’ last May (read that review here) and so was glad to have the opportunity to watch this third installment.

In ‘Horror of the Zombies’ (as this movie is called on various public domain DVD’s) the basic story is a publicity stunt lands two bikini clad models out in the middle of the ocean “stranded” in a boat. The thought is that they would be found by another ship and the rescuing would make headlines. But instead of being found by someone capable of starting this mediafire they are stumbled upon by an ancient galleon carrying the undead Knights Templar. After being struck by the galleon and surrounded by an impenetrable fog the ladies make their way on board this seemingly empty ship in order to try to get some answers.

After the duo is not heard from for quite some time, their employers and friends go out in search of them using their last known coordinates as a guide. They find favorable waters and no boat nor galleon, that is until a strange fog starts to encroach upon them. The rest of the story pretty much tells itself.

Like the first Blind Dead movie, the undead in ‘The Ghost Galleon’ are probably some of the most amazing looking zombies around, albeit as slow as frozen molasses when it comes to their movement speed. When they are onscreen Amando does something that only works in a few films…there is no danger music, no sound at all except from what you see on screen. Dead silence interrupted by floor boards creaking, screams and groans, footfalls shuffling and nothing else. There are definitely some eerie scenes in this movie because of it and I loved every one of them, they are what make the movie.

But for its pro’s, it has some con’s too. For one it’s dubbed (at least the version that I watched). As filmed, ‘The Ghost Galleon’ is a Spanish film and so it is dubbed in English, and some of the female voices used are a bit too masculine to match the women on screen. Also there are more than a few scenes that have a good amount of overacting.

The biggest con is a strong point for me for why I like this film but one that I think the majority of horror fans won’t get into. The buildup is slow as is the pace. It’s 33 minutes into the film before you catch a glimpse of the first undead and it takes an additional 2 or 3 minutes before he manages to drag his slow moving carcass out of his coffin and get moving. I enjoy that style of cinematography, where the action and gore is not a strongpoint but replaced with tension and creepiness (not that I don’t enjoy a good dismemberment either, don’t get me wrong). One scene where the Knights are attacking Barbara Rey’s character takes way too many minutes for what little it contains, which is that the Knights drag her down into the bowels of the ship. It ‘feels’ like ten minutes for something so simple when there are five Knights all working together and what a normal zombie would have had finished in thirty seconds. You either enjoy that type of scene or not and this movie has a lot of them.

Blanca Estrada probably gives the best performance here as Kathy, one of the two missing models, as well as Carlos Lemos, a Professor who’s interested in the mysterious galleon and its legend. With no main star to speak of, each character has to hold its own and most fail at it.

In the end this movie does not compare all that well to ‘Tombs of the Blind Dead’ and if it had come out first, I probably would not have rushed to see the others. However, riding on the coattails of the previous films and containing the awesome undead Knights Templar, silly plot or no silly plot, this movie garners at least a single viewing. It is embedded below for those willing.


Dead Snow Review

What do Nazi’s, zombies, Edvard Grieg’s ‘In The Hall of the Mountain King’, intestinal rope and 450 liters of blood all have in common? They all appear in the 2009 movie ‘Dead Snow’! Let me start out by saying this movie is definitely fun. Unfortunately, despite having Nazi zombies in it, it is not all that fun. But that notwithstanding, let’s look at the film.

Dead Snow’, despite it being in Norwegian and requiring the use of subtitles, is an excellent zombie film. Somewhat likeable characters, the obligatory old guy who warms the younger crowd of the danger they are (who dies later in the film), the bathroom and sex scene, decapitations, chainsaws and the like, and almost intelligent Nazi zombies comprise the majority of this film. What isn’t there to love? The resident movie geek even knows how precarious a situation they see themselves in wandering off into a cabin in the deep forest with no cell phone reception and no way to reach help easily.

To further explain the story, a group of medical students take an Easter break vacation up into a remote cabin in the snow covered mountains of Norway. Little do they know this cabin is the hiding spot of a box of gold coins, necklaces and the like that, back in World War II, a group of Nazi’s maliciously took from villagers and later died trying to keep. Naturally, being many years later, these now zombie Nazi’s are looking for their gold and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it back.

The movie takes some time to explain the story, have the first sighting of whatever is in the woods, introduce the old guy who tells them they should leave and have the box of gold found so expect not to have much happen for just over half an hour. However, once it starts, watch out!

Whereas the first half of the film you might mistake for an actual attempt at a suspenseful horror film the second half of this film is definitely your typical zombie comedy: a lot of over the top blood-n-guts scenes, hilarious (and typical) cliché humor and zombies popping out of everywhere in a never-ending supply of ruthlessness. I definitely enjoyed the second half more than the first as I assume most will.

The snow covered countryside is shot well enough and really adds to the film and to the imposed isolation they characters find themselves in. Also, despite that you neither love nor hate any character more than the others, (unlike most horror films with those you definitely want to see killed versus those you want to survive) as some get killed off the remaining do about what is expected of them to try to survive the onslaught making it at least halfway reasonable as far as believability goes. The ‘two men against the world’ standoff near the end is one of the best scenes in the entirety.

I can’t give credit to any one actor over another, honestly no one stood out over anyone else. The zombies, the countryside, the gore and the story itself are the shining stars of this film. It is a definitely worth a watch, maybe even twice. However I’d save the purchase for something a little more memorable long term. The scenes that mirror other movies are too numerous for it to stand on its own, which I think is by design unfortunately.


YellowBrickRoad Review

Personally, I liked YellowBrickRoad (2010), however for me to recommend it to someone would almost mean I need to know that persons interests in Horror before I did as it is not for everyone.

There are several things to like in the movie. There’s gore, some decent acting, the photography in some of the scenes is great, and the background and foreground music works well. Basically it all just works.

But there are some aspects that just won’t fly with everyone. Whatever story development takes place it’s mostly in the beginning of the movie which means that nothing real interesting takes place within the first forty minutes of the film. Also this piece can be best described as a slow descent into madness (i.e. The Shining) and that either works for you or it doesn’t, there is no real middle ground. It’s a slow and methodical descent that you don’t even really see happening at first and by the time you do you realize it’s been going on for quite some time now.

The story is simple. In the year 1940 the entire population of a small town in New Hampshire takes off on a walk down a wooded trail for reasons unknown. Sometime later, everyone is either found dead or never found at all. Fast forward to today and the confidential materials behind the situation have now been released publicly. This sparks a group of wannabe researchers to want to walk the same trail and find out exactly what happened to them and why they went in the first place, documenting their little expedition as they go. Think The Blair Witch Project except that only some of the scenes are shown through the eyes of the handheld cameras the researchers have.

The directors, Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton, do a good job of making it easy to feel what the actors are going through. The shaky cam work to imply something loud and paralyzing, a wonderful soundtrack (that is best experienced in the theater) some of which is part of the story and the researchers are hearing, and the great photography work to accent the isolation they are experiencing in those New Hampshire woods are all well done. Overall, as much as the story of people going out into the woods and going crazy has been done to death, when watching YellowBrickRoad you don’t get the feeling you’re seeing something you’ve seen before which was appealing to me.

If I have any real complaints it is with the ending. Call me and stupid and maybe I just don’t get it, but the ending really makes no sense and if you let yourself think what you think it means, the rest of the movie was surely not the best way to arrive there. Maybe it’s me, I’d be curious your thoughts.

The budget for this film allowed for some decent actors, my favorites here being Laura Heisler, Anessa Ramsey and Clark Freeman who all gave great performances. You can get more information on the DVD here. It’s a definite purchase for me as I love these type films, but as I said in the beginning it’s not for every Horror fan. It is currently available on Netflix streaming.


Gamera vs. Zigra/Gamera: Super Monster Review

gameraI recently had the privilege of watching Shout! Factory’s new double feature DVD containing ‘Gamera vs. Zigra’ (1971) and ‘Gamera: Super Monster’ (1980). I’ve watched both these movies before but being able to watch these newly remastered DVD’s was a bit nostalgic. When I was a kid I used to watch Gamera and Godzilla movies almost every weekend.

These films are the last two in the Showa series of Gamera films (a series of eight movies released between 1965 and 1980). ‘Gamera vs. Zigra’ was released in 1971 by the Daiei Motion Picture Company. 9 years later, in 1980, Daiei was bought out by Tokuma Shoten who released ‘Gamera: Super Monster’.

Starting with ‘Gamera vs. Zigra’, let’s just say it is your typical Kaiju (Japanese for “strange beast”) film and should appease anyone who is a fan of the genre and era. It was directed by Noriaki Yuasa who directed seven of the eight Showa series Gamera films (including both these films) so he is in very familiar waters.

Zigra, an alien creature who looks like a goblin shark, comes down to Earth looking for food and with the intention of destroying everyone. After mind controlling a female geologist he finds on the moon, he uses her to cause a series of earthquakes around the globe. Several attempts are made to destroy Zigra but none succeed, so Gamera is called in. However, he is quickly rendered unconscious by Zigra with some form of hypnotism ray. It is up to a group of scientists to come up with a way to free Gamera so he can finish his task and save the world.

Gamera’s xylophone playing, victory dance sequence (you’ll just have to see it for yourself) and even a mock Scooby-Doo chase sequence between two children and the hypnotized geologist make this a fun movie to watch. The improved Japanese language track, typical dubbing and standard acting in this DVD release is typical of what you would find in movies of this type. If you watch and enjoy this type of movie, you’ll have no real complaints with Zigra.

gamera1

‘Gamera: Super Monster’ is a film of a slightly different animal however. With Tokuma Shoten now wanting to release a Gamera movie of their own they decide to release a recap film. They take the best fight sequences from all the previous films, add some new footage of Gamera flying and give him a brand new bad guy to battle at the end.

It all sounds great a first, you get to see Gamera battle every monster he’s ever fought before all in one nice 90 minute package. However, seven battles is quite a bit to have in a normal length movie and severe cuts were made to each battle sequence to make it fit within the time constraints. Add in three silly spacewomen who are fending off Zanon’s contact on Earth and the amount of tolerance needed to truly enjoy this movie skyrockets.

The two areas of the film improved in both remastered DVD’s, the video and the new Japanese language tracks, are excellent. It’s a shame the English dubbing wasn’t improved much if at all, there is a noticeable difference between the audio qualities of the two language tracks. Also, the synchronization between the dubbing and the subtitles is off considerably in a few scenes in both movies.

Both DVD’s include a picture gallery of publicity stills (easily navigated through with your DVD remote) and Zigra has a behind the scenes gallery as well. There is a one sheet insert with the chapter listings and an inside cover showing Gamera’s anatomy which I personally found interesting.

Overall, I loved this DVD as I assume most fans of Gamera, Kaiju, and 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s monster films will as well. ‘Gamera vs. Zigra’ is the better of the two films as far as quality goes. The recap aspect of ‘Gamera: Super Monster’ makes it a nice movie to see for those new to the Gamera franchise and/or who don’t intend on going back and seeing all seven prior Showa movies.

Gamera vs. Zigra Score: 2.5/5
Gamera: Super Monster Score: 2.0/5
Disc Score: 2.0/5


House On Haunted Hill Review

House on Haunted Hill’ (1959) is a gem of a film. I’ve watched it for years now and I have a great time doing so every time. The house is spooky, the jumps scary, and the shrieks ear piercing, just the way they should be!

Vincent Price does an outstanding job as Frederick Loren, an eccentric millionaire who devises a plan; he invites five seemingly random people to an old house he rents for a party in the hopes that the “haunted house” will do the deed of killing off his greedy wife for him. However, his wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart) has no intention of going quietly and has dastardly plans of her own. Who will survive this night is anyone’s guess.

Frederick’s incentive is simple: $50,000 is to be split amongst any of the guests who remain in the house the entire evening and live to see the morning. It’s a simple enough premise if it wasn’t complicated by floating ghosts, falling chandeliers, vats of acid, walking skeletons, and hanging guests!

I love this movie because it doesn’t take itself serious. It is standard haunted house fare, a big house, isolated and locked down with only one entrance that can’t be opened until dawn of the next morning. Two creepy caretakers, lots of rooms with bars on the windows, and plenty of hidden passages make finding a way out impossible and give the nefarious plenty of opportunities to conduct their dastardly deeds. Cheesy gags that are purposely meant to frighten the guests but are not real in the context of the story add to the mischievousness.

Throw in the psycho guest who believes in ghost and babbles constantly about the evil history of the house (the owner of the house in this story), the Doctor that seems to be present in every haunted house story, the alpha male hero of the group, and the easily frightened woman with a scream that can shatter glass, and you’re in for a great time even if it is fairly predictable.

There are enough of these type films that you have to really want to enjoy a film, and not critique it, to really understand why this film stands above most others. It is by no means a masterpiece of cinema but the actors all do great jobs portraying characters needed to make a story such as this come together. The house doesn’t detract, and the frights given by the gags you see make up for the shortage of any real ghostly frights elsewhere; this is one of the few haunted house movies I’ve seen where the house itself doesn’t deliver any frights.

House on Haunted Hill’ was directed by William Castle who was known for his in-theatre gimmicks. This movie was labeled as being filmed in “Emergo”, and during one scene where a skeleton walks towards Frederick’s wife, an actual skeleton hung on a wire would fly out from the side of the screen and float over the audience. Unfortunately the gimmick was short lived, once word got out about it the skeleton became the target of soda cups, sling shots and anything else that could be thrown at it. I would have loved to have seen it myself.

House on Haunted Hill’ is a typical Vincent Price classic and deservedly so. Go into it expecting such and you’re in for a great time.

The movie is embedded below for your viewing.


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