[SEQUEL SEPTEMBER] Bobby Morgan Thinks "Evil Dead 2" Is Groovy...

The final contribution for SEQUEL SEPTEMBER is by Bobby Morgan, who writes for both Geeks of Doom and EuroCultAV. Bobby is probably one of my longest friends since I've started using social networking, becoming a true, trusted friend for many years now [when you have my phone number, you know you can be trusted]. Bobby and I seem to share the same tastes in cinema, mocking the terrible and enjoying the great and/or the silly. Bobby is a cinephile of all genres, but he definitely loves his horror and science fiction. He's an awesome person and I definitely wanted him to contribute to SEQUEL SEPTEMBER. Check out his writing at Geeks of Doom and EuroCultAV.com.

Bobby, no surprise to me, decided to write about his favorite sequel [and maybe movie] of all time - 1987's EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN. One of Sam Raimi's finest efforts, EVIL DEAD II is definitely a sequel that rivals the first film in terms of entertainment and quality. Check out Bobby's thoughts, as he shares his history and love for Ash Williams second adventure. Thanks Bobby for sharing and for helping out! Much appreciated, brother!

The summer of 1996. I was 17 years old and without a job. I had worked the entire previous summer in my first job at the Paramount’s Kings Dominion amusement park and before my junior year of high school ended they had invited me to come work for them that summer. It was a tough call but after some deliberation I decided not to return. There were several factors that pushed me to make that decision: the commute by bus each day was a chore, the work stunk (more often than not literally as part of my job entailed pushing around a garbage cart the size of a Humvee….in the fucking rain), and the only time I had to hang with my friends was on the weekends. Since I had some money saved from my first income tax refund I could float around on that and have a real summer vacation. There was a video store down the street from my house and I would walk down there every week and trawl the racks for new and vintage titles on video. Among the cooler flicks I saw that summer in the comforts of my own air-conditioned home were FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN, HEAT, and Adam Sandler’s finest hour, HAPPY GILMORE.

However there was one particular title that kept catching my eye but for some reason I could never muster up the courage to rent it. The funniest thing about my initial exposure to the EVIL DEAD trilogy was that I watched them in reverse order. In early 1995 I had rented ARMY OF DARKNESS, the third film in the trilogy, from the video section of a local grocery store and loved the movie so much I would watch it several times before returning it (
late I might add). Late in the winter of the following year I sat alone in my house as a icy chill whipped through the trees outside and loaded a thirteen-year-old copy of the original HBO/Thorn EMI released of THE EVIL DEAD. Talk about setting a mood. For all its wooden acting and primitive (but highly effective) special effects the original EVIL DEAD remains to this day one of the scariest movies I have ever seen.

But EVIL DEAD II kicks its ass- hard - and it makes no apologies. I’ve seen it countless times in the thirteen years since my first viewing and I can clearly say that it is the single best movie I have ever seen. I even once watched it on the big screen. My friends, that was a genuine thrill. I can quote entire scenes from memory. The music constantly plays in my head. I can watch this movie over and over everyday without tiring of one second of it. I can name every cast member and what character they play, I know who does the special effects, and I even know the story behind the “Rosebud Films” logo that precedes the movie. I’ve watched the “The Gore, the Merrier” documentary on the Anchor Bay DVD almost as many times as the movie itself. When I bought my first Blu-ray player I made pretty damn sure that one of the inaugural Blu-ray discs in my collection would be Lionsgate's spectacular 25th Anniversary Edition disc released late last year. That remains one of my smartest investments.

I can find no fault with EVIL DEAD II. Without exaggeration this movie is perfect, and that is no bullshit.

The story of the first EVIL DEAD’s making and unleashing upon the world is legendary. If you’ve read any of the books about the films, listened to the DVD commentaries, or seen any of the cast and crew at horror conventions, then you would know the behind-the-scenes horror stories by heart. At least those stories resulted in a hell of a happy ending. Launched into the public consciousness thanks to an enthusiastic review by superstar author Stephen King, the movie took the world of horror cinema by storm and set its young director and producer/star on what would prove to be long and fruitful careers in film. Three years later those dreams of cinematic success were almost dashed forever. In 1985 for his first stab at major studio filmmaking (
without the use of a Kandarian dagger) director Sam Raimi leapt at the chance to indulge the life-long admiration for over-the-top slapstick comedy that fueled his desire to become a filmmaker with his best friend and unlikely muse Bruce Campbell starring in the lead.

Unfortunately for them Raimi and Campbell were now working for Norman Lear’s Embassy Films and they had a small army of Hollywood studio executives to answer to. Making the original EVIL DEAD may have led Raimi, his producer Robert Tapert, and Campbell to maroon themselves in the woods of rural Tennessee during the winter of 1979-1980 with a $500,000 budget, several buckets of stage blood and a gaggle of overworked and undernourished cast and crew but every frame of the film that was the fruits of their labor could not be touched by any know-nothing industry suit. That was not to be the case with the movie Raimi originally titled THE XYZ MURDERS with Campbell as the hero and EVIL DEAD composer Joseph LoDuca providing the music score. First the Embassy suits decreed that Campbell, after being forced to submit to a screen test, would not star in the movie
THEY were now calling CRIMEWAVE. Then they compelled Raimi to cast some obscure schnook with not a shred of comic timing as the hero. Lastly Raimi was coldly informed that his preferred composer LoDuca would not provide the score for THE XY….excuse me, CRIMEWAVE.

This all transpired before filming began.

After shooting was completed and Raimi completed his first cut of the film, the executives at Embassy took the film out of his hands and edited it to the point where it was no longer recognizable to its creators. CRIMEWAVE was ultimately released in a few theaters to fulfill a contractual obligation and barely registered at the box office. The movie may have gained a minor cult following in the years since its video release but Raimi has already disowned it before it hit theater screens. His first dance with the devils of Tinseltown had birthed a celluloid dumpster baby. Now the Michigan wonder boy who made demons melt and cameras leap and fly was in dire need of a job.

With some needed prompting from his EVIL DEAD sales agent, the legendary Irvin Shapiro (
best known for suggesting that Raimi change the name of the original from BOOK OF THE DEAD to THE EVIL DEAD), and with Stephen King putting in a good word for Raimi with his MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE financial backer Dino De Laurentiis, Sam Raimi was about to do the unthinkable. With Campbell and Tapert in tow once more he was about to head back into that cursed forest to that hellish cabin to put his long-suffering hero Ash through his paces at the hands of demented and mischievous demonic forces. This time around Raimi wasn’t going back into the woods with meager funding and a skeleton crew forced to wear many hats to save the production some cash. This time Sam Raimi was a more experienced filmmaker and for EVIL DEAD II he would have the best of everything at his disposal, resources he would wisely utilize to make his definitive masterpiece.

Raimi intended for EVIL DEAD II to open with footage from the first film. At the end of the original EVIL DEAD after Ash has supposedly defeated the dark spirits that possessed his friends and beloved Linda and transformed them into murderous creatures that could only be destroyed by, and I quote, “
the act of bodily dismemberment”, the demonic forces that roam the woods after being unleashed by Ash and his friends playing a tape recorded recital of incantations from the Kandarian Book of the Dead awake and snatch the bruised and bloodied Ash as he helplessly limps back to civilization. The camera rushes up to Bruce Campbell’s screaming face and the movie cuts to black. The original film’s distributor New Line Cinema refused to license Raimi the desired archival footage so the director, along with his co-writer Scott Spiegel (another friend from his Michigan youth), was put in the position of having to cram a compact remake of his directorial debut into the first five minutes of EVIL DEAD II.

So in a sense EVIL DEAD is both remake and sequel, but the remake part ends halfway through the first reel. Once Ash has had to decapitate his possessed girlfriend Linda (
played by Denise Bixler)….again, and the evil Kandarian spirits hit him with a flying tackle that sends him soaring through the trees at a pace equal to that of the Concorde, then EVIL DEAD II truly begins. But from the moment the movie begins every single minute is utterly glorious. Each scene brings with a new surprise as Raimi, ably assisted by an aces cast and technical crew more than up to the challenge of bringing his feverishly insane ideas to life, keeps his imagination on warp speed.

This was the film that brought the now legendary team of Robert Kurtzman, Gregory Nicotero, and Howard Berger (
known today as KNB EFX) together for the first time. Until EVIL DEAD II these masters of latex and foam rubber miracles had never worked with each other before. Even to this day the KNB boys have rarely been able to top the wizardry they conjured up with the assistance of Sam Raimi’s demented vision. They created some of the coolest-looking monsters ever seen: from the mad-eyed demons who make Ash’s life a literal living Hell to the monstrous trees who would give the living forest in THE WIZARD OF OZ the heebie jeebies to the team’s piece de resistance, when all of the trees in the haunted forest come together to form the ultimate Kandarian demon and it is both creepy and pretty goofy in a way that I can not help but love dearly. Heads spin, the cabin furniture comes to life, corpses dig out of their graves and do ballet, possessed hands scurry across the room, and untold gallons of blood all colors of the rainbow flood the cabin to name but a few.

Raimi’s most terrifying creation lives just off camera and haunts the dark forest in the form of a endlessly prowling first person point-of-view shot. With his director of photography Peter Deming (
replacing original D.P. Eugene Shlugheit, who retained credit for the night exterior photography he completed before leaving the production) Raimi transforms the camera into the most relentless force in the film. He even came up with some interesting ideas for special rigs that would allow the camera to glide over car hoods, ram through windows, and tear ass through the cabin doors and walls in pursuit of our beleaguered hero Ash. The cinematography on EVIL DEAD II is the best of the trilogy. The sets and outdoor locations are brightly lit to the point where they practically look artificial. This works brilliantly as it enhances the fantastical world that the movie takes place within as opposed to the original EVIL DEAD where the sets and the forest were under-lit to play up its blackly horrific atmosphere. The haunted forest of EVIL DEAD II looks like it could have come out of a Grimm fairy tale or a movie such as KWAIDAN or NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. There is not a yellow brick road in these woods to take the characters from the horrors of the Deadites to the safety of civilization but there is a trail heavily guarded by the trees, and unless you are packing a chainsaw (or a pair of pruning shears) you travel it at your peril.

More than anything EVIL DEAD II is the film where the legend of Bruce Campbell began to take shape. In the first EVIL DEAD the character of Ash was more reactive than proactive. It was only towards the end when he really got into the action. In EVIL DEAD II he was no time to be the sensitive wussy boy - the demons are attacking right out of the gate. No other scene in Campbell's lengthy filmography sums up his unchallenged status as a pop culture icon than the moment when he arms up for the final battle. You know what I'm talking about: the expertly-crafted montage where he attaches a chainsaw to the stump where his possessed hand used to be and then uses the saw to chop off the barrel of his trusty shotgun. How many other horror movies or horror comedies have a scene that can equal or even surpass the sheer awesomeness of that singular moment when the camera slowly zooms in on Ash's intense face, the look of a man who has been through a literal Hell since he arrived at that cabin and is now ready for the battle of the ages, and he intones the one word that brilliantly encapsulates Campbell's storied legacy on film and television - "
Groovy". If that is not one of the greatest moments ever captured on celluloid I just don't want to be part of this world anymore. 

If you still haven't seen EVIL DEAD II I highly recommend you do right this minute. The chances are good that you will not like it as much as I, and that's if you even like it at all. But bear this in mind before you seek it out: this movie will defy each and every one of your expectations.

Commando (1985)

Mark L. Lester

Arnold Schwarzenegger - John Matrix
Rae Dawn Chong - Cindy
Alyssa Milano - Jenny
James Olson - General Kirby
Dan Hedaya - Arius
Vernon Wells - Bennett
Bill Duke - Cooke
David Patrick Kelly - Sully

Genre - Action

Running Time - 90 Minutes


First of all, I want to thank Mr. Eric King for begging me to help him out with this Yeah! Guns 'n Shit! 80s Action Week theme he's doing. As some of you know, my blog Full Moon Reviews is currently at its end of SEQUEL SEPTEMBER, and Eric contributed a review for 1989's THE FLY II.

...After I had reviewed THE FLY II myself. Looks like someone was trying to upstage me. Whatevs.

Anyway, Eric needed me to contribute to his...cute little theme. I would only do it unless I was able to write about 1985's COMMANDO. I don't know if anyone had the film before me, but it didn't matter. Eric was desperate and knew my presence would give his theme week some credibility.

You're welcome, Eric.

Since I find desperation unattractive, I shrugged and said "whatever". So here I am, ready to make his Yeah! Guns 'n Shit! 80s Action Week mean something with my thoughts on COMMANDO.

You're welcome again, Eric.

So COMMANDO...yes, the action extravaganza that's probably the epitome of 80s Action along with 1988's DIE HARD with Bruce Willis. COMMANDO has it all - guns, hot chicks, foreign villains, explosions, one-liners, and the very charismatic presence of one Arnold Schwarzenegger. In fact, COMMANDO is the film that made Arnold Schwarzenegger the marketable action star he would become and still is. You think bodybuilding did it? You believe wielding a sword and wearing a loincloth made it happen? You're probably too blind searching for Sarah Connor to realize that COMMANDO made Arnold Schwarzenegger the man. And he did it by shooting shit up while doing his classic stand up routine. COMMANDO is 80s Action!

So COMMANDO goes down like this:

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a former leader of a commando team named John Matrix [coolest last name ever], who has retired with his young daughter, Jenny (Alyssa Milano) in the California mountains. His former General, Kirby (James Olson), unfortunately interrupts Matrix's retirement by informing him that the men who worked under Matrix have been murdered. Minutes after Matrix is placed "under protection", they're killed as the bad guys invade Matrix's property. Jenny hides, but Matrix goes into his shed - which is really an underground bunker full of weapons. While Matrix tries to take out the bad guys, Matrix's nemesis named Bennett (Vernon Wells) kidnaps Jenny. Apparently without realizing Who's The Boss or understanding that the Power of Three would set her free, Jenny is pretty much helpless. Damn kids...

Matrix is kidnapped by the villains, now following a former South American leader named Arius (Dan Hedaya) - who is as CLUELESS here as he would be ten years later. Arius wants Matrix to murder the current leader so he can gain power again in exchange for Jenny. Realizing that Arius and Bennett have no plans to keep Jenny alive whether he does the job or not, Matrix takes matters into his own hands and plans on getting revenge on his foes by waging a personal war.

Let's get this out of the way - COMMANDO isn't a perfect movie. The focus is scattershot at times. The acting isn't great most of the time. And the story is pretty bare-bones and doesn't have much substance going for it. I've read and heard reviews for this film, all putting COMMANDO down for these reasons alone - claiming its reputation is overrated. You know what I say to that?

Who in the hell is expecting Academy Award caliber direction, acting, and screenwriting in an 80s action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger?? COMMANDO may not be the smartest film out there, but it's one of the most fun you could ever watch! It's like a live-action cartoon or a comic book come to life - one you can escape to when the troubles of real life get you down.

The story may not be deep, but it's simple enough to understand and be emphatic enough where you want Matrix to shoot the shit out of these bastards who kidnapped his daughter. The characters truly enhance the narrative, as they all have stereotypical 80s personalities that are fun to watch. John Matrix is the epitome of an action hero. He used to be in the military. He would rather be with his daughter than fight bad guys. And when his daughter is taken, he does whatever he can to punish the people behind it. The guy has not met a weapon he doesn't know how to use. And when he does hurt his victims, he's does it in a charming way. How can one not like this guy?

Even the main bad guy, Bennett, is charming for an sadistic asshole. All he cares about is hurting Matrix due to issues in their military past, not concerning himself with logic in how to make that happen. He also has no issues wanting to murder little girls, just because he finds murder fun. He's your typical 80s bad guy, but he enjoys his job. So you enjoy it with him.

The other villains also bring their own flavor to COMMANDO. Arius is the stereotypical foreign villain who has a military protecting him and uses blackmail to gain power. Cooke is the silent muscle of the group, using his actions to speak for him. And Sully is the horny sleazeball who gets one of the more memorable exits. And then you have all the soldiers who are there just to get shot to shit - like all 80s villainous soldiers should be.

The women also have their place in the film other than being the typical girlfriend/eye-candy role. Cindy is caught in Matrix's mess, due to Sully trying to pick her up to her non-interest. She plays the confused victim until she realizes Matrix is one of the good guys and becomes his sidekick. She flies planes. She uses rocket launchers after testing them out backwards first. She uses her feminine wiles to distract the enemy. And did I mention she's played by RAE DAWN CHONG?? She added sex appeal to BEAT STREET. She made C. Thomas Howell do blackface in SOUL MAN. She made the violent school system watchable in THE PRINCIPAL. And she made me want to date a gargoyle in TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE. She never becomes Matrix's girlfriend in COMMANDO, but she's definitely his worthy accomplice and aids him when he needs it the most.

And Jenny is definitely her father's daughter. She's tough, spunky, and will take initiative in saving her own ass. Finally a child character I can get behind, especially when she got older. But that's another story for another time. So the story may not be rich, but the characters are.

And how can these cinema snobs hate the beautiful one-liners in COMMANDO? This action film is the king of one-liners.

*Matrix dangling Sully over a cliff*
Matrix: Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
Sully: That's right, Matrix! You did!
Matrix: I lied.
*Drops Sully to his death*

*Fighting former Green Beret, Cooke*
Matrix: I eat Green Berets for breakfast. And right now, I'm very hungry!

*Kills an enemy on a plane*
Matrix: Don't disturb my friend. He's dead tired.

There are so many more in the film, but the screenwriters really did a great job bringing some fun to a silly action film. It's pretty self-aware of itself without having the characters wink at the audience about it. It's what keeps COMMANDO timeless in my opinion.

The action scenes are also very memorable. The final act is fantastic. Matrix shoots the hell out of Arius' soldiers - all 30 of them - which leads to Matrix shooting the shit out of Arius himself, which then leads to the conclusion and long awaited mano-a-mano battle between Matrix and Bennett over Jenny's life. It's twenty minutes of action that builds and builds, never letting up. CLASS OF 1984 and FIRESTARTER director, Mark L. Lester, did an awesome job pacing the climax of the film, as it breezes by and makes you excited for each subsequent shot. In fact, Lester keeps the short 90-minute runtime moving without the pace slowing down once. It's not the most stylish film, but it doesn't have to be. It's watchable as hell and great popcorn entertainment. That's all I want in an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle.

I think the most memorable action scene is within the mall. Maybe DAWN OF THE DEAD and VALLEY GIRL made malls cool for some people, but COMMANDO made malls cool for me. Watching Matrix swing over rails and beat the crap out of security guards puts a smile on my face each time. Watching security guards flirt with teenage girls, call Matrix "one gigantic motherfucker", and then get shot to shit makes me laugh. And watching Matrix body slam a phone booth with Sully trying to make a call inside is just fucking awesome. Why didn't more 80s action films have their stars wrestle around with phone booths? With cell phones now, what a lost opportunity! That's what makes Arnold Schwarzenegger in COMMANDO number one!

And I forgot how violent this film really is! Watching the Director's Cut, COMMANDO really turns into a gory film. A ton of people get shot by Arnold while he flexes his massive pecs [no wonder that maid wanted his love child]. A police vehicle gets blown up by a rocket launcher. We get people getting impaled by sharp objects, my favorites being a pipe and a rake. We get buzzsaws thrown at people, with one actually scalping their victim. We get a machete cutting an arm. And we get explosions, explosions, explosions - all presented nine times in the same angle for emphasis. I miss the 1980s...

The acting is pretty bad by everyone involved - hell, I think Alyssa Milano is the best actor here! But that's what gives COMMANDO its charm. Schwarzenegger was never the best action actor in terms of thespian work, but he's believable in any role in which he kicks someone's ass, shoots them to shit, and has to deliver funny one-liners. He gets who he is and embraces it, which is why I love the guy. Rae Dawn Chong is kind of annoying here, but she's sexy as hell and has great banter with Schwarzenegger. I like her a lot, even with her flaws. Vernon Wells is over the top as Bennett, and is awesome at doing so. He's having fun with the role. I'm having fun with the role. He's a great physical match with Schwarzenegger too and I believed his sadistic nature. Dan Hedaya is great as the foreign villain. He has enough body hair to pull it off [those eyebrows!]. David Patrick Kelly is awesome as always as the slimy bastard who deserves whatever is coming to him. Bill Duke is intimidating as the silent Cooke, staring at us with his deadpan stare. And we get a BILL PAXTON sighting as an Intercept Officer! He's only in the film for a minute, but that's one minute more than most films that don't star Bill "The Man" Paxton. Dude is too cool for school.

And a special shout out to composer James Horner for his tribal, bohemian score. Love the tropical sounds he added to the film. Those drums pump you up for some 80s action for sure. And can't forget Power Station's "We Fight For Love" during the end credits. That's what modern movies are missing - 80s songs during their end credits. That'll entice me to stay watching after the film is long over.

Seriously, COMMANDO is the Shit! It's got action coming out of its ass. It's got funny one-liners that people still remember 27 years later. It's got Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing his muscles while he kills close to a hundred people in this film. Sure the plot is just there, the dialogue is cheesy, and the action is implausible. BUT THAT'S WHY IT WORKS! Grab your buddies or your woman, kick back with some beer and popcorn, and have fun with this kind of an action film they just don't make anymore. If there was ever an Action Movies Hall of Fame, COMMANDO would be its first inductee without a doubt. And if you have an issue with this, you need to let off some steam, Bennett.


[SEQUEL SEPTEMBER] Original vs. Remake: Day of the Dead (1985 & 2008)


George A. Romero (1985)
Steve Miner (2008)


Lori Cardille - Sarah
Joe Pilato - Captain Rhodes
Terry Alexander - John
Richard Liberty - Dr. Logan
Howard Sherman - Bub
Antone Di Leo Jr. - Miguel Salazar
Jarlath Conroy - Billy McDermott
G. Howard Klar - Steele
John Amplas - Ted Fisher

Mena Suvari - Corporal Sarah Cross/Bowman
Nick Cannon - Private Salazar
Michael Welch - Trevor Cross/Bowman
Stark Sands - Private Bud Crane
AnnaLynne McCord - Nina
Matt Rippy - Dr. Logan
Ian McNeice - Paul
Ving Rhames - Captain Rhodes

Genre - Horror/Action/Drama/Zombies/Virus

Running Time - 101 Minutes (1985)/85 Minutes (2008)

Although zombie culture had always been part of the horror genre since its inception [although they began as the Haitian/African voodoo variety], it wasn't until 1968 in which zombies really gained a major focus when an independent filmmaker named George A. Romero filmed and released the iconic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The whole zombie landscape had changed. The voodoo stuff became passe, allowing a more realistic "dead rising" type of monster to take center stage. Not only that, but zombie films started using social commentary and deep social themes to tell their stories and allowed them to resonate for different generations. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD wasn't just a great horror film, but it kicked the horror genre in the ass for years to come.

Romero kept the zombie stuff going, even when he was dealing with viral outbreaks [1973's THE CRAZIES], vampires [1976's MARTIN], fake knights [1981's KNIGHTRIDERS], and classic anthologies [1982's CREEPSHOW]. 1978's DAWN OF THE DEAD took what NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD did, but pushed it further. The special effects were better. The character dynamics were deeper. And the social commentary was just as powerful. It's still considered by many to be Romero's best DEAD film due to its upbeat nature and for the legacy it has left behind all over the world.

But something happened in 1985. Romero released what was thought to be the final DEAD film - DAY OF THE DEAD. It had a lot of buzz. Tom Savini's effects were a lot improved since DAWN OF THE DEAD, truly creating great looking zombies. The commentary on humanity, civilization, and gender issues were on display. Hell, I remember owning Fright Flicks trading cards with DAY OF THE DEAD in them! But I guess the film's depressing and bleak tone turned horror fans away, as DAY OF THE DEAD wasn't liked much during its release by critics or audiences, although it did pretty well at the box office [at least worldwide - it didn't do too well domestically]. It didn't help that THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, which had been released a few weeks later, was considered cooler due to its younger cast, awesome soundtrack, and comedic tone.

DAY OF THE DEAD had been considered one of the more misunderstood and oft-forgotten horror films in the genre for many years. But once home video came to play and digital media was more readily available, DAY OF THE DEAD's reputation began to grow. It also helped that the 1990 remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and 2004's remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD were highly favored, giving audiences a reason to seek the Romero originals out. In 2003, Anchor Bay released a special 2-disc Divamax version of DAY OF THE DEAD, which garnered huge sales and renewed interest in the film and the franchise. Nowadays, fans have embraced the film - with some considering it to be the strongest entry in the original DEAD trilogy.

No shocker - DAY OF THE DEAD, with its new popularity, was remade in 2007 by Steve Miner and Jeffrey Reddick. It was meant to be released theatrically, but studio interference delayed the released and it was eventually shelved for DVD and Blu-Ray in 2008. Is it because the zombie sub-genre was saturated by this point that the studio felt the film had no chance in theaters? Or is it because the remake is terrible and the studio felt it would grab an unsuspecting audience at their homes? In this edition of Original vs. Remake, we'll see if DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) is worthy of its reputation and whether it holds up today - while we'll see if DAY OF THE DEAD (2008) is a worthy remake, or just a terrible cash in on a popular George A. Romero zombie franchise.

A military doctor named Sarah (Lori Cardille) is the only woman amongst a group of soldiers, scientists, and pilots, counting down the days on a calendar as a way to keep herself sane. Sarah takes a helicopter ride with two pilots (Terry Alexander and Jarlath Conroy) and her soldier boyfriend, Miguel Salazar (Antone Di Leo Jr.) to what's left of Florida. They encounter a horde of zombies, but no other survivors. Feeling a loss of hope, they return to an underground military bunker nearby.

Being stuck underground for months, most of the scientists and soldiers around Sarah are starting to lose their sanity. The self-appointed leader of the group, Captain Rhodes (Joseph Pilato) is the worst case, as he has a short fuse and will do anything to make sure he survives - becoming a tyrant obsessed with power in the process. On the other side of the crazy spectrum is Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty), who's mental state works in his favor rather than against him. Logan has been experimenting on the zombies, trying to figure out why the dead have come back to life and what makes them function the way they do. Logan realizes that the brain controls all of a zombie's functions, whether they're full bodied or just a head. He also has a guinea pig in the form of zombie Bub (Howard Sherman), who slowly begins to understand the ways of human society again as if a child would. Through these experiments, Logan feels that the survivors would be able to teach the zombies in how to behave properly within their society, which would allow them to control the zombie threat.

Too bad Rhodes believes that Logan's experiments are a waste of time, energy, and resources. Wanting to make sure he's the last survivor, Rhodes demands changes be made or he'll kill some of the people or just leave them stranded. Feeling that gathering zombies for experiments are putting them in jeopardy, Rhodes and his soldiers begin feuding with the scientists. It's during this battle that we start seeing who truly are the monsters and who truly still have their humanity.


DAY OF THE DEAD is a thought-provoking, very character and dialogue driven drama that just happens to have zombies in it. It's easy to see why it failed back in 1985. Horror at the time was still coming off the slasher boom, which was highlighted by its silliness, gory deaths, and fun tone. DAY OF THE DEAD may have gory deaths, but it's not silly and it's definitely not a fun watch until its final moments. This movie will depress you and make you think about the fear of change when it concerns life and death. There are no teen actors. There is no punk/new wave soundtrack. There are no zombies yelling out for brains. DAY OF THE DEAD will hit you hard with its concept of civilization, what life really means for many, and what truly classifies someone as "human" and someone else as a "monster".

Like I mentioned, DAY OF THE DEAD is very talky, which probably turned many people off to it [probably still does]. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and DAWN OF THE DEAD had dialogue-heavy moments, but they were between zombie action and a sense of suspenseful atmosphere. You don't really get that with DAY OF THE DEAD. The zombie moments are few and far between, although the final act more than makes up for it. And while there is a bleak mood and an atmosphere of isolation and paranoia due to the cabin fever the characters are struggling with, it's not really a suspenseful film like the first two films are. This is really due to the fact that the characters aren't as likeable as in NIGHT or DAWN, which a lot of people I know have a problem with in this film. But honestly, it's the only logical step after both NIGHT and DAWN. Even from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, we were given hints that Romero had some of the humans portrayed as monstrous, even if the zombies were considered the monsters of the film. But the time DAY arrives, it's obvious that the zombie apocalypse has changed the survivors. As they struggle with their humanity and their place in life, they become selfish, power-driven, and insane to keep some normalcy in their existence. On the other hand, the zombies have now evolved and taken human characteristics. They aren't evil. They behave on instinct, doing what they need to survive. But some of them know right and wrong by this point. Most of the humans in this film are now considered "dead" in terms of humanity. Romero did this intentionally - it's an evolution of both sides, as we quickly figure out that the zombies aren't the villains of the piece - the humans are.

DAY OF THE DEAD raises a lot of questions in terms of mankind. For example, what is it like to be the only female survivor amongst a bunch of crazy men? How do these men feel when the women is strong, tough, and still sees the bigger picture for the most part? Are we defined by our behavior, or by our intelligence? Is this God's plan to purify the human race for all the sins we have committed? These are scary things to think about, because a lot of people ask themselves these questions. These questions arise when we're desperate for answers and for change. Being stuck underground with the same people, looking at the same surroundings, for months [who knows maybe even longer] will drive anyone mad.

And while the characters are certainly unlikeable, we understand why they behave and think the way they do. This is human nature. They struggle with control, power, and their sanity because they're desperate and they're helpless. When one is pushed to the brink, they'll do anything. Captain Rhodes is a prick, but I get why he behaves that way. He's afraid to die, especially when he doesn't understand the situation that brings him closer to death. His tirades and ultimatums are his way to maintain a certain level of control. He's overwhelmed by the change that's happening around him and what's to keep some sense of what he knows alive. He's doing it the wrong way, but it's his way and I understand it. Same goes to Dr. Logan, who's nicknamed "Dr. Frankenstein" because he's obsessed with his experiments on zombies. How he treats the dead is very messed up, as you sympathize with them because no one wants to be a lab rat against their will. But he's doing it with the best intentions, as he begins to realize that zombies used to be human just like him. He wants to make zombies sort of human again, so they stop being a threat to his survival. He's definitely kooky, but he's on the money.

We also get an interesting dynamic between Sarah and Miguel, who have a very dysfunctional relationship. Miguel has pretty much given up, not focusing on the task and hand, and freaking out at the worst times. He's also pissed that Sarah, his girlfriend, is much stronger willed and pretty much telling him what to do and doing his job better than he is. Sarah and Miguel prove that relationships don't work in this bleaker society, especially when the sole woman is more useful than a once proud soldier.

Rhodes two minions, Steele and Rickles, are absolutely insane to the point of annoyance. They're the bullies of the story, always picking on others in order to make themselves feel better. McDermott deals with the cabin fever by drinking. And John, who is probably the sanest of the human characters, uses religion and philosophy as his way of keeping strong and accepting what the world has become. His idea of taking the helicopter, finding a deserted island, and living with the bare necessities of life made a lot of sense to me. Why suffer when you can find a way out?

However, the most fascinating character is, without a doubt, Bub the zombie. It's obvious that Dr. Logan's treatment of Bub is a form of slavery - teaching him how to perform in society again by focusing on things he would remember from his days of living, rewarding or punishing him depending on how he does. Bub represents the humanity inside of all of us, showing us that the stuff we take for granted can please us on a basic level. Everything else just corrupts us and makes us forget the simpler things. The zombie is the most human character in DAY OF THE DEAD, which has a lot to do with Howard Sherman's incredible performance. I'll get to the acting shortly, but Sherman makes Bub a true sympathetic character that we root for over any of the humans in the film.

I also like that Romero takes a jab at the social institutions that tend to govern us all, such as the military and science. When all hope is lost, these institutions will do whatever it takes to maintain their power over everyone else. It's obvious that the two can't work together, which makes them weak individually. This battle is what destroys what's left of society. There can be only one King, and the war is what destroys whatever civilization these people had left. None of these institutions are stable, which corrupts the society created. It's as if Romero is claiming that those who lead us and keep us together as a society are just as flawed as we are individually. No man can rule another man without there being power struggles and social concerns. It may not be as talked about as the social commentary that lies within both NIGHT and DAWN, but it's just as important.

What critics and audiences can both agree on is that the special effects and gore are top notch here. Tom Savini [with the help of Greg Nicotero - who also stars as a soldier in the film] won a Saturn Award for his work on DAY OF THE DEAD, and it's well deserved. It goes far and beyond anything Savini did in DAWN OF THE DEAD, and even some of the slasher films he had worked on prior to DAY OF THE DEAD. We get a head split in two by a shovel. We get ripping of the throat. We get cut off limbs. We get a cut open zombie whose intestines run out when he turns over. We get heads that continue to move, even when they're not attached to bodies. And we get a couple of instances, including the classic Rhodes "Choke on 'em!" scene, where zombies gang up on someone and rip them apart. I also love the make up on the zombies, as they look real decomposed - which is a nice evolution from how they looked in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Bub, in particular, looks great. Just a visually stunning film.

George A. Romero wanted DAY OF THE DEAD to be the "GONE WITH THE WIND of zombie movies". The budget was originally $7 million, which would have allowed him to accomplish this. But somewhere along the way, it was cut in half. This put strife on Romero, as he had to rewrite his script and cut down on some of the effects in order to get his message across, but done with a cheaper budget. There were also other technical issues, like the "guts" the zombies eating being tainted - which made many of the extras sick. The high humidity inside the mine shaft where all the bunker scenes were shot ruined a lot of the equipment and the props, especially for Tom Savini's make up and effects. Actors had to sleep in the mine overnight to save money and time for transportation. The shoot was a mess.

But even with that happening, Romero directed a masterful film here. There's some style here. There's some good amount of tension. The film looks closer to NIGHT than it does DAWN, with its dimmer lighting and bleaker vibe. Seeing nothing but an underground bunker for 99% of the film creates a claustrophobic effect that makes you want to find a way out. I thought the editing was great. The pacing is really slow for some, but the drama for much of the film enhances the character development, making all the action during the final act resonate more and become more effective. It's a character drama with horror elements, and Romero treats the film as such. It's great direction by Romero. I kind of wish he had ended the DEAD series here, but you can't stop a man who has something to say through zombies.

The acting is also great. Lori Cardille is very good as Sarah. She has her off moments here and there, but she plays a tough, somewhat intelligent woman that many will respect. Terry Alexander is fantastic as John, the philosophical one. He had the second most likeable character for me and plays the role perfectly. Richard Liberty plays the perfect mad scientist in Dr. Logan. He seems to be having fun with the role. Antone Di Leo Jr. kind of made me laugh as the unhinged Miguel. His emotional rants made me chuckle, not gonna lie.

The best two actors are polar opposites of each other. Joe Pilato is a highlight and a joy to watch as the over-the-top asshole, Captain Rhodes. He's so obnoxious and such a douche, that he's awesome. He's just great and he steals every scene he's in. And I can't not commend the performance of Howard Sherman as Bub the zombie. Just an amazing job. His face and body language told a story you couldn't help but pay attention to. Sherman plays the most human character in the film, and does it flawlessly. Even today, many consider Sherman's portrayal as Bub to be their favorite zombie performance. Can't disagree with that.

In Colorado, a lot of the locals have come down with some strange virus. The military has been issued to keep things in order and to quarantine the virus before its spreads outside its origin. As we learn, the virus may come across like the flu and give people nose bleeds. But it really turns the victims into vicious creatures with a hunger for human flesh. Not only that, but they gain some superhuman strength as well, allowing them to run really fast, climb walls, and crawl on ceilings.

Some of the people living in the town haven't gotten infected due to their immune system. But they're left to deal with the aftermath of the virus. Among them is a soldier named Sarah (Mena Suvari), who must protect her younger brother Trevor (Michael Welch) and his girlfriend, Nina (AnnaLynne McCord) from being dinner. Also along for the right are two other soldiers - Salazar (Nick Cannon) and Bud (Stark Sands) - as well as a mysterious doctor named Logan (Matt Rippy), who may know more than he lets on. The group attempts to escape town and fight up the infected, they soon realize the origins of the virus, what it was planned for, and how to stop it from spreading.

I had been saving a watch of the remake of DAY OF THE DEAD for this very review, because I was curious to see how the two films would compare and contrast. When I made it known through social media that I was going to watch this, I instantly got replies begging me not to and to save my time from watching a terrible film. Knowing it's troubled production history and the cold reception this film has mostly gotten, to have friends actually take the time to warn me about this remake actually piqued my curiosity more than before. So I sat down and watched it, trying to take it all in as its own film. I realized by the end of its short running time that my friends were right. DAY OF THE DEAD 2008 is a terrible movie. Is it the worst remake or horror film I have ever seen? Nowhere close. But it is pretty bad.

Let's set the record straight: this is not a remake to George A. Romero's 1985 classic. Sure it shares the same time, uses the same character names, deals with military characters, has an underground bunker in its final act, and involves non-zombies [they're infected, not dead]. But the two films are presented very differently. Romero's film had social commentary and wanted to send a message through its dramatic story. Steve Miner's film wants to capitalize on the trend started by 2002's 28 DAYS LATER, which ironically is considered to be a ripoff of DAY OF THE DEAD. This remake doesn't have social commentary. This remake doesn't have interesting characters. Everything in this film we've mostly seen done before and done a lot better. It doesn't surprise me that DAY OF THE DEAD went direct to DVD. This isn't a theatrical movie. This is a SyFy Saturday Night Feature Presentation.

I respect the producers of this film to do something different from the movie that it's based on. While I don't think DAY OF THE DEAD needed a remake, I'm glad FINAL DESTINATION screenwriter, Jeffrey Reddick, didn't just recreate most of the original for a modern audience like some remakes do. It's really its own film - not a remake and not a sequel to 2004's DAWN OF THE DEAD. It follows its own path while retaining certain elements of the original film. That's what a good remake should do - be familiar enough, yet create something new out of something old. So I respect the film for that.

However, I would respect it more if the changes made to DAY OF THE DEAD were actually...you know...good. But they're not. This remake is just like any modern infected zombie film out there. From the beginning, it's completely predictable with stereotypical characters finding themselves in stereotypical situations. Teen characters are concerned with sex, even when they're infected with a virus. The military is in a small town, trying to roadblock people from leaving to quarantine the virus. More people get infected until the virus finally kicks into full gear and turns them into flesh hungry creatures. The survivors group up, finding weapons and places to hide as they escape the infected while figuring out what the cause of the infection is. I've seen this film countless times before and you know exactly how it'll end. I'm not expecting everything to be original, but at least give people something new to make yourself stand out.

And by original, I don't mean having infected people having the ability to run on walls and crawl on ceilings. Although I prefer the much slower, dead zombies, I don't mind the running "zombies" that modern filmmakers have taken a liking to. But giving them super speed? Having them run on walls? Travel on ceilings? Was there radioactive spider blood mixed into this biological weapon? My disbelief is already suspended by fast "zombies". But ones that crawl above you? That's just jumping the shark right there, and I've seen a lot of weird shit in zombie movies.

Also jumping the shark? A vegetarian zombie in the form of Bub, I mean BUD. A "zombie" that doesn't hunger for meat? What the hell is this? I get that the infected maintain certain things about themselves when they were fully human. And Bud was a vegetarian who was disgusted by any sort of meat product. But a vegetarian zombie, while I guess supposed to be clever and ironic, just comes off as silly and stupid. If the infected act on instinct, they they would want human flesh - regardless whether they ate it before or not. What makes Bud so damn special? He's also in love with Sarah, so he protects her even when he is under the infection. I can buy that a lot more than the vegetarian thing. If the issue was developed better, I'd be fine with it. But we're just led to believe that just because one was vegetarian prior to infection, he or she will remain that way. Whatever.

The loose remake also has unlikeable characters, just like in the original. However, the characters in Romero's film had every reason to come off as unlikeable. There's no real reason for the characters in Miner's film. Sarah is the tough and so-called smart soldier who becomes the defacto leader of the survivors. While I didn't dislike the character, nothing about her really endeared me to her either. There's a subplot where Sarah and her family seem a bit estranged, with her brother having issues with her and her mother wishing she had never left home to join the military. Supposedly, Sarah has a complicated past - yet the script never elaborates on it, forgetting it by the halfway point. She also tolerates Bud, who has a crush on her, but doesn't give in to his advances. Yet, she's willing to keep him around once he's infected, as if she does care about him. But the screenplay never lets the character develop these subplots, so why are they even brought up? But she was the typical leader who called the shots, and each zombie film needs one of those.

I had more of an issue with the other characters, besides one or two. Sarah's brother, Trevor, is just a nuisance. He's too busy wanting sex from his hot girlfriend, Nina. Even though he should be looking after his mother, he would rather hang with Nina and her family. Even though he knows that a nosebleed means that someone is infected, he wants to let his infected mom inside the safe shelter even though he knows she was really sick. He would rather argue with his sister than listen to her. This kid got on my nerves big time.

Even worse, though, was Salazar - Sarah's soldier buddy. MY GOD was this dude fuckin' annoying. I would rather take the whiny bitch version from the original film over this wannabe thug any day of the week. This character says the most cliche one-liners and quips any time he appears, making me wish the infected had killed him sooner than they did. I guess he's supposed to be the "hip" comic relief, but he's so corny and unfunny. Nothing about this guy was likeable and I wanted him to shut the hell up. The casting for this character didn't help either. Nick Cannon, really? Ugh...

Captain Rhodes is barely in the film to make an impression. He's a lot more subdued than the original version, meaning he lacks any sort of personality that'll make you want to watch more of him. Dr. Logan is still a mad scientist, but he's pretty much a prick and a pussy here, leaving the survivors stranded and trying to cover his ass so his involvement is never found out. I already discussed Bud, but I need to mention a certain exchange with Sarah's mom over how hot she is. It was so casual, that it was unbelievable. It was as if Sarah's mom was prostituting her daughter to this guy she didn't know. Maybe it was the infection talking, but I just found it so out of place. We also get a DJ [who wasn't too bad] and a neighbor couple [who were just there to be victims].

The best character in my opinion was Nina, Trevor's girlfriend. She was the typical girlfriend character - screaming and running, traumatized by what was going on around her. But as the film went on, she got a lot smarter and a lot tougher, ready to fight to survive. She never annoyed me. She was hot to look at. And her character actually evolved. I barely knew anything about her besides how she behaves in the film. But out of all the characters, she was the only person who behaved like a human being. So she's cool with me.

What the "remake" does get right are the make up and the special effects. The infected folks look really great in this movie. They look like they're decomposing. The white contacts for eyes are pretty creepy. These villains don't seem human at all, which is great. The CGI was a bit iffy at times [nothing you would see out of place on SyFy], but it was the least of the film's concerns. It wasn't terrible in any way, but you could tell some things looked really fake. Still, it was visually entertaining and I thought some of the gore was cool looking. The best one is one infected person eating their own eyeball in a funny bit. Didn't mind the special effects at all.

The direction, however, was a mixed bag. I honestly couldn't believe this was the same Steve Miner who directed FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3-D, HALLOWEEN H20, LAKE PLACID, WARLOCK, and the awesome 1986's HOUSE. What happened here? I'm not saying it's completely terrible. The pacing is fine, as the short running time goes by quick. Some shots were quite stylish. The action portions were shot well - probably the best part of the direction. But the editing was weird, especially those flash transitions that just annoyed me. The fast motion for the infected as they ran almost looked like an outtake of Benny Hill at times. The cinematography is nothing special. I honestly have trouble believing this was going to be released in theaters because it looks so cheap. The look of this film screams "Direct to DVD". Miner's direction is just mediocre at best. He's done some great stuff in the past, but he was short changed here. Maybe it was the bad material. Maybe it was the budget. I have no idea what led to this.

The acting is also mediocre. Mena Suvari does the best as she can with what she's given with as Sarah. She's totally miscast as a tough soldier, especially since she looks like a Hollywood actress and doesn't seem like someone who can take you out in a fight. But she tries her hardest, but honestly deserves better roles than this. Nick Cannon is just atrocious as Salazar. What an annoying actor. He should stick to being a host, a disc jockey, or even a singer if he wants. But his performance here is just terrible and he made me groan in pain each time he made an appearance. He played the stereotypical token black guy to a T, when he should have done the opposite. Worst performance in the film. Michael Welch was okay as Trevor. His character was a pain, but he did a decent job in the role. AnnaLynne McCord did well and looked super hot doing it. Ving Rhames was okay as Captain Rhodes - I can't hate on Rhames. The guy definitely has presence. Too bad his role was nothing to work with. Stark Sands was also pretty good as Bud. Not the worst acting in the world.


- Steele offered his penis to lure in the zombies. I'm sure they wanted a feast, not a snack. But it's the thought that counts.

- Feeling she emasculated him, Miguel Salazar slapped Sarah around. Miguel is Chris Brown's favorite character in a George A. Romero film.

- Dr. Logan realizes that zombies only need their brains to function. I guess if Sarah Palin passes away during a zombie apocalypse, that it's for her.

- Zombies need to be rewarded or punished in order for them to become civilized again. If they don't obey, shoot them in the head. If they do, send them more paramedics.

- A zombie got decapitated by a shovel. I'm sure he didn't dig that too much.

- Trevor tried to cop a feel on Nina. I guess he wanted to Nip/Tuck it into her 90210!

- Captain Rhodes got eaten by some infected patients inside of a hospital. He probably longed for the days when he was a tortured by a gimp.

- Rhodes, now infected, had no problems trying to kill Sarah inside of an air duct. I guess he just needed to vent out his frustrations.

- Bud insulted Salazar by saying his sharp weapon was a spear, not keeping mind of how racist that sounded. Bud also insulted any female with a microphone by calling them Britney Spears.

- Salazar was chewed up by the infected. They should win the million dollar prize on America's Got Talent for that.

These two versions of DAY OF THE DEAD couldn't be more different. The 1985 George A. Romero may be a slow moving film, but it has interesting characters, great social commentary, masterful direction, awesome gore, and memorable acting all going for it. It's a film that deserves to be appreciated after all these years. The 2008 version, while I respect that it tried to separate itself from the original while keeping certain elements, is as generic as they come. Some stylish direction, decent acting [besides Nick Cannon], and good make-up and okay CGI keep it afloat. But the script is terrible and it doesn't present anything you haven't seen before. Unless you count infected people who can climb walls and ceilings. Or vegetarian "zombies". Yeah...stick with the original if you had to see any film titled DAY OF THE DEAD. The "remake" is below average, but it's not the worst film I have ever seen. But I don't plan on giving it a second chance. It can choke on 'em for all I care.


4 Howls Outta 4

1.5 Howls Outta 4

DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) Trailer

DAY OF THE DEAD (2008) Trailer


[SEQUEL SEPTEMBER] Anthony Thurber Gets In Shape For "Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers"

Today's contribution for SEQUEL SEPTEMBER is by Anthony Thurber, who is the administrator of FilmArcade.net. I've known Anthony since the MySpace days, and he's a film lover of all genres. He has been kind of enough to ask me to contribute to Film Arcade time and time again for years, and I was always honored to do so. He's always supported me and Full Moon Reviews, and I'll never forget that. I've been focused with my own site lately, but if he ever asked for a contribution, I'd probably find it hard to decline it. Definitely check out FilmArcade.net for Anthony's news and reviews!

Anthony decided to share a Blu-Ray review he posted last month about one of my favorite slasher film sequels - 1988's HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS. My first HALLOWEEN film I ever saw on the big screen 24 years ago, it still holds a special place in my heart. And from Anthony's review, he more than agrees with me. Check out Anthony's thoughts on [in my opinion] the last great HALLOWEEN film and if the Blu-Ray is worth getting or not. Thanks, Anthony, for helping out!

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” is viewed to me, as one of the best sequels in the Halloween franchise. The original film is the best film in the series, but there’s a debate that either this or “Halloween: H20” is my favorite sequel of the franchise. It usually changes, every time I talk about it. Enough with that, since I’m here to talk about this film and the Blu-Ray.

[Check Out Anthony's Review for HALLOWEEN 4 at FilmArcade.net]


[SEQUEL SEPTEMBER] Nolahn Rides A Train While "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory"

The first of today's contributions for SEQUEL SEPTEMBER is by Nolahn of the Bargain Bin Review. I've known Nolahn since the MySpace days, and ever since he's been one of my biggest supporters and nicest friends. Nolahn loves really bad B-movies - so much in fact that he's created a website for them and reviews one every Wednesday. He does it with a sense of wit and humor, always making you want to see the film because it's good - or see it because it's terrible. Hell, I wanted to see THE NEVERENDING STORY III because of him, but I'm not sure if I can handle that much torture at the moment.

I have contributed to his site a couple of times, and he always links back to my blog if he has reviewed a film I've already done. He even made Full Moon Reviews the Link of the Week on BBR, which I'll always appreciate. Nolahn also hosts The Lair of the Unwanted podcast with Invasion of the B-Movies blogger, Jason Soto. I'll be a guest in late October, as we three will discuss MONSTER BRAWL - a horror themed wrestling movie. That should be fun. Nolahn is a great guy and you all should check out the Bargain Bin Review.

Nolahn has written about several sequels, which he gave me an option to choose from. Since I haven't spotlighted enough action sequels this month, I decided to go with 1995's UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY starring Steven Seagal and a young Katherine Heigl. How could I pass up sharing thoughts on that film? Nolahn pretty much loves this one, and I remember digging it as well [although it has been years since I've watched it]. Check out Nolahn's thoughts on UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY. And thanks, Nolahn, for helping out! Talk to you in October!

They say that, when you boil it all down, movie plots only tell one of six stories.  So you have to understand the wholesale excitement in Hollywood when a brand new seventh plot was discovered in the modern day classic, Die Hard.  Those of you alive during those heady days may recall a rash of films that were described as "Die Hard on a plane" or "Die Hard in an IHOP."

No one was immune to the lure of this seventh plot. And thus,
Die Hard on a Boat with Steven Seagal, or Under Siege, was born.  The success of that film led to Die Hard on a Train with Steven Seagal, or Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.  Was that film any good?  Let's find out...


[Check Out Nolahn's Thoughts On UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY At The Bargain Bin Review]


[SEQUEL SEPTEMBER] Ryne Barber Doesn't Cheat Death For "The Final Destination"

Today's contribution to SEQUEL SEPTEMBER is by Ryne Barber of The Moon Is A Dead World. He also writes for HorrorNews.Net. Ryne is a great horror blogger who enjoys sharing his thoughts on horror cinema, horror television, and horror books. He also does a great annual HALLOWEEN 15 series every October, where he has other bloggers contribute posts about 15 specific films he wants outside thoughts on. Even before Ryne decided to help me with this month's theme, I had offered my services to write a review for 1974's MADHOUSE for this year's event. He's a cool dude who loves autumn and the macabre, so I'm happy to have him on board.

Ryne decided to watch and write about a sequel he hadn't seen until SEQUEL SEPTEMBER came up - 2009's THE FINAL DESTINATION. Judging by his review, it seems Ryne and I share similar lackluster feelings on what is considered to be the weakest entry in the FINAL DESTINATION franchise. Even Death has its off days, I guess. Check out what Ryne has to say about THE FINAL DESTINATION. Thanks Ryne for helping out!

I chose The Final Destination for Sequel September because I used to love the films when they first came out - maybe not Final Destination 3 as much as the others, but the originals were films that I praised for their cleverness. I hadn't caught The Final Destination when it came out, nor have I seen the recent Final Destination 5; I think I've been putting them off for a reason, but Sequel September felt like the perfect time to finally sit down and watch.

Despite the fact that adding the word "the" to the film's title should allude to the series' finale, it seems that ending this cash cow was not in the best interests of the filmmakers. Nor does "the" refer to The Final Destination as being the definitive film in the series; that should be apparent from the opening of the film, when all of the bad acting hits you like a slap in the face. This fourth installment is a sequel in all of the ways that should kill off a successful set of films - it blatantly copies all of the elements that made the first couple of films work, except this time there's a greater sense of ridiculousness to everything.

The film is wrapped around one main event that should have killed a group of people at the car races. For the life of me, I can't remember any of their names, and it's apparent that the filmmaker's don't really care either when you see in the cast credits that some of the characters have names like "MILF" and "MILF's husband." This isn't attributed to my bad memory; it's the fault of the scriptwriters that The Final Destination's characters are entirely unmemorable, and the people are more easily identified with their stereotypical roles than they are with their life stories. The only person that stands out is Mykelti Williamson in a role pre-Justified, who plays a security guard at the race track who is the most likable because of the ironic humor he infuses into the events.

The deaths are, as expected, gruesome and creative, new plays on the crazy accidents in life that can kill if one is in the right place at the right time. But unlike the other films in the series (at least the first two), The Final Destination has to work insanely hard to make these deaths seem realistic. Before, the deaths were scary because they were intricate but seemed reasonable; in The Final Destination, so many ridiculous factors have to work at the right time for these events to happen, and there's no reason to fear that these grisly accidents could ever happen in real life. The problem is that the filmmakers have to get more creative with each film; now they have to resort to showing incredibly happenstance events that combine for a deadly combination.

Even so, the film slacks off sometimes, like Mykelti Williamson's death. There's also the strange character personalities that refuse to believe the worst might happen, even after their lives have already been affected by crazy, unexplainable deaths. It's no wonder that these kids are targeted by death; it's Darwin's theory at work here, and if these people don't take the obvious clues given to them and try to stop their own deaths, then perhaps they're not worth saving.

What once was a creative series has now fizzled into films that simply retread the old ideas with new, grisly deaths. Unfortunately, those deaths barely make sense anymore; they're like watching Rube Goldberg devices, not like watching realistic accidents. There's a fifth film now, but when you think about it, there can always be more of these types of movies; there sure is a lot of work for Death with all of these stupid kids.
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