Opens with an old man sending a young archer on his adventuring way, all double exposed on a beach with a Goblin soundtrack, and I’m afraid my story description from here on isn’t going to make much sense. Nicely summed up (in a positive review!) on lboxd: “every scene is clouded in iridescent fumes & I don’t know why anybody does anything.”

Wolf-suited tax collectors rip a girl apart so their snakey nudist leader can gobble her brains. Is she then killed by an arrow of light shot by our faceless archer or was that a vision? Our hero Elias is armed with a bow and four arrows, but is attacked by fourteen dudes, then rescued by an animal-loving stone-nunchuck warrior called Mace with lipstick runes on his forehead. Mace won’t kill animals so he steals all his food, keeps a cavegirl nearby until her head is smashed in by dog soldiers in the next scene.

Obsessively backlit – both this and Conan‘s best parts are their music, but this one is better for being wildly unpredictable. “Birds flying towards the water… that’s not good.”

Birdie:

The kid gets poisoned by a barrage of film-scratch darts coming from the weeds, and Fulci finds a way to get zombies into the movie as Mace braves a horde to collect a poison-healing herb. Then Mace gets attacked by his shadow self (Cactus-faced Zora in disguise) and it’s his turn to be captured by cobwebbed cave muppets, and the kid has to rescue him.

Somehow the kid keeps finding arrows in a land that’s never seen a bow before – have I mentioned this? – but finally he starts shooting blanks and letting the effects team add bolts of light. Mace is rescued by dolphins then attacked by powervaulting cave furries… the villains behead the kid but the nude woman can’t devour his brain because he opens his eyes… I dunno anymore.

Fulci in his heyday (The Beyond was the year before) ripping off Conan – even titled so they’d sit together alphabetically in video stores, good move. The kid’s career path was a Howard Hawks film -> this -> Werewolf with Joe Estevez. Stonechuck warrior Andrea Occhipinti had just starred in Fulci’s New York Ripper, and the nude girl Sabrina Siani specialized in playing the nude girl in this sort of movie. Like Conan this won no oscars. Big congrats to Oppenheimer but in another 40 years we’ll see which of these movies people are still watching.

A hornt-up married couple cause an army transport to lose its unstoppable bulletproof kung-fu super-zombie cargo. A discordite said Snyder’s title sequences are always tops – agreed, even the font is nice, but it’s all downhill pretty soon.

Las Vegas quickly falls into a contained Resident Evil situation (aka a Doomsday scenario), which the President is gonna nuke on independence day (obvs. a Mr. Show “America Blows Up The Moon” reference). Before that happens, rich guy wants Dave Bautista to put a team together (you sonofabitch) and heist some money from Zombie Vegas. The only actor worth mentioning is chopper pilot Tig Notaro, and even she runs out of good quips in the second half. The team get picked off by zombies and/or by Sunglasses Dillahunt, sent along by the sinister rich guy, Bautista has meaningful conversations with his large-eyed daughter Ella Purnell, and it all goes on for a real long time.

Z Royalty:

Z Tiger:

I wasn’t sure about this one, been too long since I’ve seen it. It’s the one where the zombies start learning, the gruesome makeup effects are better than ever, but we’re in the hands of paranoid racist military goons and overall it’s a bummer movie – that circus elevator music from Dawn wouldn’t fly here.

Nice fakeout for Dawn fans, opening with four all-new people in a chopper. Our main girl is Sarah, whose main man Miguel is starting to lose his mind in the underground zombie containment facility. Lead military guy is also gone over the edge, starts killing scientists. Meanwhile the heart of the movie is Dr. “Frankenstein” Logan and his pet zombie Bub – they’re both very good if we could only tune out everyone else.

Dying Miguel lets the Z horde into the facility, Sarah and a couple others escape yet again by chopper, and the only “survivor” on the ground is Bub. Logan/Frankenstein was also in The Crazies, Miguel in Monkey Shines, Sarah’s drunk friend Bill in the Coen True Grit, chopper pilot John in Amateur and The Horror Show, and lead asshole Rhodes in Wishmaster.

Of Romero’s Dead movies I’ve only seen Land in theaters, so after watching Night in the best edition I’ve ever seen, I figure why not follow up with the others. This opens with real chaos in a TV studio, then the weatherman takes his girl Fran and two cops Ken Foree and Roger in the weather chopper and get the hell out of there. Despite the zombie apocalypse Romero wants to be utopian: when another cop at the station is being racist and violent, other cops kill him before he can shoot more civilians.

After setting up in the mall storeroom they go on risky missions to enforce their position. Blocking the main entrances with trucks, Roger has an unpleasant close-up encounter with a Z and goes kill-happy then gets bitten twice. The TV couple toughens up and learns to shoot, and while he’s teaching Fran to fly the chopper Tom Savini spots them and gathers his biker raider crew to take the mall. Flyboy is enraged that they’re stealing what he stole and starts shooting. Ken takes out Savini and they’re winning against the bikers, but the Zs have overrun the mall again and they swarm Flyboy in an elevator.

News team in red:

Cops in blue:

Besides all the action we get some good comic moments – I liked Flyboy checking the price of a jacket then putting it back on the rack – and the music is often pointedly ridiculous. Lonely despair is also addressed – the chopper lessons were an attempt to break free from their shut-in depression, and Ken considers suicide before joining Fran in the chopper at the last second. All lead actors were solid. I’ve recently seen Ken in Lords of Salem… Flyboy went on to Basket Case 2, Roger did Knightriders and the Dawn remake, and Fran did Creepshow and Madman.

Bad move to watch an awesome HK movie near the start of Shocktober, because now I’m off-mission listing HK movies I need to see, considering a TsuiHarkTober rebrand. Leslie Cheung, incompetent in his job as a tax collector, is told he can sleep for free in the spooky old temple infested by stop-motion skeletal zombies. Meanwhile White Snake herself, Joey Wong, is a hot ghost girl doomed by a giant tree called Old Evil to lure men into becoming new stop-motion skeletal zombies.

Joey with her evil stepmom:

“The bearded guy killed your sister. Let’s report him.” Wu Ma is in every kung fu movie but gets a rare big role here as the bearded guy. After Leslie meets the hot girl (Hsiao-tsing, aka Siu Sin, which sounds just like “Susan”) he gets the bearded guy invested in rescuing her soul and defeating the spirit so she can be reincarnated. They spend a long time fighting a gigantic tongue in the woods… cool movie.

New restoration looks terrific. Half the cast gets killed by their own zombified family members (coward Cooper and wife are eaten by their kid, the guy who says they’re coming to get you Barbra comes and gets Barbra), and the young people die due to fiery incompetence while escaping in the truck. We all remember what happens to Duane. I still haven’t played the commentaries but I watched some video extras, and Duane would like everyone to know that he’s totally fine – in fact extremely completely fine – not talking about the movie.

OK, sure, I guess. But every time I’m almost having a fun time with the dour zombie-action movie, it stops for some “fan service” callback to the Sam Raimi movies.

Evil Mom is Alyssa Sutherland of shipbound nazi vampire movie Blood Vessel, her dead necronomicon-meddling son Morgan Davies was in a Willem Dafoe movie, and her sister who survives while rescuing only the youngest kid is Lily Sullivan of a Picnic at Hanging Rock remake.

IMDB says Cronin’s The Hole in the Ground “premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2019 to critical acclaim,” but that’s not how I remember it.

Will Sloan:

“What if they did Evil Dead in an apartment instead of a cabin in the woods?” is not an interesting enough spin on the material.

Dr. Robert Powell (Ken Russell’s Mahler) arrives at the titular asylum to work for Dr. Starr, but is met by his assistant Patrick Magee instead. Magee says Starr is now a patient, locked safely upstairs with a trusty electrical system controlled by this button (I’ve heard that one before), and challenges Mahler to correctly identify the doctor. Mahler heroically pads the film on the way upstairs, and the orderly (who I correctly/immediately guessed as the doctor) lets him into each room, one at a time… yes, it’s a corny anthology horror, the same year Magee and Cushing and Dr. Orderly appeared in Tales from the Crypt. 1972 would seem to be too late for this kinda thing, but British people such as Edgar Wright think all this is great.

Bonnie (Barbara Parkins of The Mephisto Waltz and A Taste of Evil) isn’t even the murderer in her story – her boyfriend Richard Todd (the least famous person in House of the Long Shadows) chops up his harpy wife (Sylvia Syms, appropriately of Victim) and puts her in the basement freezer, but her butcher-paper-wrapped body parts reanimate, strangling him and attacking the unwitting Bonnie with the hatchet until the police arrive to blame the whole mess on her.

Tailor Bruno (Barry Morse of The Changeling) was brought the Man in the White Suit material by mysterious customer Peter Cushing, who planned on using dark magick to resurrect his dead son with the suit, but the tailor’s wife puts the suit on a mannequin which comes to life instead.

Barbara (young Charlotte Rampling, whoa) seems the most culpable so far. She starts by blaming Lucy (Britt Ekland of Wicker Man) for murdering her brother (James Villiers of Mountains of the Moon) and the nurse (Megs Jenkins of The Innocents), but Lucy might be an invented personality of Barbara’s.

Dr. Byron (Herbert Lom of The Sect) is at least a doctor of something – I don’t know how we’re supposed to imagine that the previous three were actually psychologists based on their stories. But Lom’s specialty is transmitting his consciousness into sub-Puppet Master wind-up dolls. The new visitor must’ve inspired a rampage, since he and Dr. Orderly go on the attack.

Toxic Roxy is young and blonde, frees buried criminal Kate Bush, who murders all Roxy’s friends then escapes, leaving the whole community angry at Roxy and her hairdresser mom. This all takes place on another planet, populated entirely by women who shun electronics and chemistry, after the earth became uninhabitable… well, only shunning these things to a point, since they have guns and androids (both named after fashion brands). While waiting for Kate, Roxy and her mom (Elina Löwensohn of course) bond with Kate’s fancy rich neighbor Sternberg, with her male android Olgar 2 and weirdo bounty-hunter bots Keifer and Climax.

Extremely horny sci-fi, Roxy masturbating at every opportunity, with dreamy visuals. We got zombie horses, geode-faced creatures, energy weapons, a pubic third eye, hats and fur coats everywhere, and everything is slimy or dripping and cross-faded onto everything else. I felt bad about not liking The Northman last night, then today I double-featured this with Mad God at the Plaza, and now I am feeling much better.