We're having some more scheduling difficulties as Dr. Girlfriend learned that friends were in town for the holiday, so Saturday's movies are canceled. Well, not so much canceled as shuffled around. Which means that we're jettisoning Make-Out with Violence this year (maybe it'll make the cut next time around) and instead, Friday's line-up was Quarantine 2: Terminal and The Dead. The Dead Outside will be shifted to either Sunday or a double-feature Monday with Pontypool.
So, without further ado…
- Quarantine 2: Terminal
- Director: John Pogue
- Writer: John Pogue
- US 86 min.
I don't know what it is about these Quarantine films, but I love them. Maybe it's because I haven't gotten around to seeing the original [rec] films that the first Quarantine was based on. Maybe not. I tend to not have a lot of built-in hostility for remakes. If it's good, it's good.
And Quarantine 2: Terminal is a very stripped-down, no-nonsense thrill-ride with very little down-side. Okay, I'll try to stop hyphenating everything now.
As with the first Quarantine, what we have here is not a zombie film, but a plague film. Which, again, doesn't really fit the theme of this whole project, but I've really stopped caring at this point. The main reason for not caring is because I've enjoyed this film more than any other so far during this year's marathon. Writer/ First Time Director Pogue uses the cramped environment of the airplane to great effect during the first twenty minutes or so, before moving the action to a locked down airplane hangar after a forced landing in Las Vegas.
Anyone want to guess where the third film will take place?
There's a pleasant little attempt at misdirection as the passengers board as two or three of them (including the co-pilot) are sniffley and sneezey, making us unsure as to just who is contaminated. But this is a Quarantine movie, not Contagion, and we're not dealing with a Super Cold; it's all about the Super Rabies.
And once the Rabies gets going, there's no slowing this movie down.
From what I understand, this film diverges from the Spanish originals and gives a different explanation for the development and spread of the plague. Here, it is the product of a Doomsday Cult determined to thin out the herd and save us all from overpopulation (or something like that – you never can tell what's really going on with lunatics like this), and as soon as we see a passenger get bit by a rat (its owner claims the cage holds hamsters – surprise!) you know to strap in and get ready for takeoff!
Heh, see what I did there?
As with the first Quarantine, there's very little hope of anyone making it out of this alive, and while a couple of the attacks are cheesy with the effects added to make the infected seem to move faster (and with added snarling noises), they are almost all brutal and shocking. The violence here is bloody and quick and when the CDC shows up we get a breather, but not for long.
I could have done without the night vision goggles ending, but it was a decent shout-out to the first film, although not used to great effect here.
The performances are all serviceable, with nobody really standing out as better or worse than anyone else, and everyone who gets infected gives it their all, making the overall impact of the plague's spread even more powerful. And hey, it looks like Super Rabies can cure Parkinson's – although not without some pesky side-effects.
So what we've got here isn't brain surgery and doesn’t try to be something that it's not. Instead it just trims all the fat and gives us a lean, mean 86 minutes of controlled chaos that I found extremely enjoyable.
- The Dead
- Directors: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
- Writers: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
- UK 105 min.
I wish I could say the same thing for the highly acclaimed The Dead. Filmed on location in Burkina Faso and Ghana, West Africa, this one has a lot of good stuff going for it, but gets a little bogged down in the middle.
The Brothers Ford put together a very exciting and realistic opening twenty or thirty minutes as we focus on Lt. Brian Murphy (played by Rob Freeman), an American military engineer who is trying to get out of Africa on the last flight as the zombie holocaust comes to call.
That doesn't last long as the plane crashes off the coast and he struggles to survive the hordes of undead Africans.
At the same time, AWOL African soldier Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia) is searching for his son, who barely escaped a zombie attack on his village by fleeing with the retreating soldiers to a Northern military base.
As you could probably guess, these guys team up to help each other survive long enough to reach their goals. Murphy wants to get to the airport to see if he can tinker a plane into working condition and escape – Dembele wants the jeep that Murphy got working, because survival on foot is nearly impossible.
And until they reach the abandoned airport, this is a tightly made, tense little thriller. The budget is low, but Jonathan Ford, who also serves as the cinematographer, does a fantastic job of utilizing the landscapes of West Africa, crafting what is one of the more beautiful zombie movies ever filmed. The film slows way down after this point, though, as there's no plane for Murphy to even try to fix, so he agrees to help Dembele find his son.
I'd even go so far as to say the film gets extremely boring at this point. I started drifting, losing interest, until Dembele meets his fate (thanks to an extremely shoddy early warning system he sets up) and Murphy is again on his own, on foot, with the dead everywhere.
The ending leaves a little to be desired. It's a nice moment and provides some narrative closure, but wasn't very satisfying. I'm more interested in zombie movies that end either in a blaze of glory or with a horrifyingly nihilistic collapse. This one kind of just winds to a halt and freeze-frames on a nice, but terribly un-dramatic final shot.
With all that said, though, it's good to see a serious attempt at a zombie film, and as such, The Dead really is something worth checking out. The acting is good, the effects are old-school and low-fi but affective, and the scenery is unbelievably gorgeous. It's not a film to drink to, though. Unless you're drinking something caffeinated.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot, Streaming Pile O' Wha?, and Classic Film/New Blu, all here at Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook. You can also purchase his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation at Amazon US and UK. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.