Category: Zombies

“The Last of Us” – Season 1 (2023) starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey / Z-View

The Last of Us: Season 1 (2023)

Teleplay by: Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann (episodes 1 & 9); Craig Mazin (episodes 2 – 6, 8); Neil Druckmann (episode 7)

Directed by: Craig Mazin (episode 1); Neil Druckmann (episode 2); Peter Hoar (episode 3); Jeremy Webb (episodes 4 & 5); Jasmila Žbanić (episode 6); Liza Johnson (episode 7); Ali Abbasi (episodes 8 & 9)

Stars: Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Anna Torv, Nico Parker, Merle Dandridge, Keivonn Woodard, Jeffrey Pierce, John Getz, Scott Shepherd, Storm Reid, Ashley Johnson, Nick Offerman, John Hannah, Terry Chen, Ian Rozylo, Graham Greene, Sonia Maria Chirila, Andy McDermott,  Christopher Heyerdahl, Nelson Leis, Elaine Miles, Marcus Aurelio and Adrian Hein

Tagline: Save who you can save.

The Plot…

2023.  Twenty years ago a pandemic caused by a bizarre easily transmitted fungal infection turned most of the world’s population into mindless mutant killing machines. Society collapsed.

Joel (Pascal) currently lives in a city under military rule.  Joel and his partner Tess (Torv) plan to escape the quarantine zone and head into the wilderness.  Joel’s brother is there somewhere with a group of freedom fighters.  As Joel and Tess make plans for their escape they encounter Marlene (Dandridge).  She can provide them with needed equipment if they will take Ellie (Ramsey) with them.  Ellie is an orphaned fourteen year old with a lot of attitude… and she just may be the key to a cure.

Joel, Tess and Ellie head out.  They will quickly discover the infected aren’t the worst thing they will have to deal with.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Last of Us is based on the popular video game of the same name.  I’ve never played it and didn’t know the story ahead of seeing the show.

Every episode contains twists, but none as brutal as in the first episode.  It should have been obvious looking at the posters, but I had avoided everything I could in regard to press for the show.  I was gobsmacked by how much I came to care for a character I had never seen before.

It’s interesting how time is played with throughout the series.  The first episode features a scene on a talk show that takes places 30 to 40 years before the start of the pandemic.  A scientist is talking about the dangers to humans that fungi could present with minor changes to the environment.  That was clever.  Each episode features flashbacks to strengthen the present story.

The characters are well cast, well written and well played. Of course not enough can be said about Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.  They are supported by an amazing supporting cast. Standouts include Anna Torv, Nico Parker, Merle Dandridge, Jeffrey Pierce, Storm Reid, Nick Offerman, Graham Greene and  Elaine Miles.  Some of these characters appear in just one episode or a few scenes in one episode.  The attention to detail in getting the right person in each role, no matter how small pays off.

Joel (Pascal) and Ellie (Ramsey) are the heart and soul of the series.  Yet sometimes the people they meet take center stage. In episode three, titled Long, Long Time, Joel and Ellie become supporting characters, but this chapter remains essential viewing to The Last Of Us story.  Long, Long Time ranks with the best single episode of any continuing drama ever.  With each new outing we learn more about Joel, Ellie and the world they live in.  I wouldn’t want that reality, but I sure love visiting it.

The Last of Us is making the right choices in every department.  I look forward to season two.

The Last of Us: Season 1 (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“The Ghost Breakers” (1940) starring Bob Hope & Paulette Goddard / Z-View

The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Director:  George Marshall

Writer:  Walter DeLeon based on the play The Ghost Breaker by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard

Stars: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Richard Carlson, Willie Best, Pedro de Cordoba, Virginia Brissac, Noble Johnson, Anthony Quinn, Tom Dugan, Paul Fix, Lloyd Corrigan  and Robert Elliott

Tagline:  The two stars of “The Cat and the Canary” find love and laughter in a haunted house!

The Plot…

On a voyage to Cuba Mary Carter (Goddard) and Larry Lawrence (Hope) develop a flirtatious relationship.  Mary is going to Cuba to claim an inheritance. Larry ended up on the ship by accident.  When Mary is told about ghosts and zombies on the land and mansion she’s inherited, Larry decides to stick around.  The mansion is just as creepy as she’d been told.  It’s full of secret passageways, walls with hidden panels, and a painting that looks just like Mary. When what appear to be ghosts and zombies show up, it may be time to sell!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Due to the success of The Cat and The Canary, the studio wanted to quickly re-team Hope and Goddard. The Ghost Breakers fit the bill. Although they play different characters, the plots of both films are very similar.

This is the third time the play The Ghost Breakers was made into a film.  The first two versions were silent.  It was remade for a fourth time as Scared Stiff in 1953 with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

The Ghost Breakers (1940) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“King of the Zombies” (1941) Starring Mantan Moreland & Dick Purcell / Z-View

King of the Zombies (1941)

Director:  Jean Yarbrough

Screenplay:  Edmond Kelso

Stars:  Dick Purcell, Joan Woodbury,  Mantan Moreland, Henry Victor, John Archer and Marguerite Whitten. 


The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

1941.  World War II is raging across Europe.  James “Mac” McCarthy (Purcell) is flying his small plane from Cuba.  With McCarthy is his valet, Jeff Jackson (Moreland) and his buddy, Bill Summers (Archer).  A terrible storm blows them off course.  Running low on fuel, they pick up a transmission in a foreign language.  They spot a small island and although banged up, survive a crash landing.

Dr. Miklos Sangre (Victor) lives on the island with his wife, Alyce (Stacey), and his many servants.  Sangre invites Mac, Jeff and Bill into his mansion.  Sangre shows Mac and Bill respect, but Jeff is treated like one of the servants.  Jeff quickly picks up that something is off with Dr. Sangre. There are strange things taking place on the island.  Will Jeff be able to convince Mac and Bill?  And if they do believe Jeff will it be too late?

King of the Zombies was originally conceived as a straight up horror film.  Bela Lugosi was announced to star.  With the success of Bob Hope’s The Ghost Breakers, King of the Zombies was re-written as a comedy.  Mantan Moreland’s character was added.  The producers were unable to get Lugosi.  Their second choice was Peter Lore.  He was also unavailable, so they went with Henry Victor.  Victor is excellent as the creepy foreign agent.

The real star of King of the Zombies is Mantan Moreland.  He is excellent as the scared, but perceptive sidekick (who steals the show).  Marguerite Whitten who appeared with Moreland in Mr. Washington Goes to Town and Lucky Ghost, is a welcome addition as a source of information and Mantan’s love interest.  Madame Sul-Te-Wan makes a believable voodoo priestess.

King of the Zombies is a low budget “B” picture that is heads and shoulders above most of the same type films of this era.  If you’re a fan of the genre, you should enjoy King of the Zombies.

King of the Zombies earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Tales of the Walking Dead” Season 1 (2022) / Z-View

Tales of the Walking Dead Season 1 (2022)

Directors:  Ron Underwood (Ep. 1);Michael E. Satrazemis (Eps. 2 – 5);Haifaa al-Mansour (Ep. 4); Deborah Kampmeier (Ep.6)

Writers:  Maya Goldsmith & Ben Sokolowski (Ep.1);Kari Drake (Ep.2); Channing Powell (Eps.3, 5); Ahmadu Garba (Ep. 4); Lindsey Villarreal (Ep.6)

Stars:  Anthony Edwards, Parker Posey, Terry Crews, Danny Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Poppy Liu, Lauren Glazier, Kevin L. Johnson  and Embeth Davidtz

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Tales of the Walking Dead is an anthology series that takes place in the world of The Walking Dead.  Each episode is a self-contained story with no continuing characters.  This series sometimes ventures into different horror subgenres (time-loop, a haunted house/witch, etc.) which is refreshing.  I enjoyed all the episodes, but even if you find one lacking, the next is something different.

My favorites were:

1. “Evie / Joe” starring Olivia Munn and Terry Crews

4 “Amy / Dr. Everett” starring Poppy Liu and Anthony Edwards

5 “Davon” starring Jessie T. Usher

I hope we get a season 2.

Tales of the Walking Dead, Season 1 earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Among the Living” – The Trailer is Here!

I’m a sucker for a good zombie movie.  Among the Living looks like it could fit the bill.  Deal me in.

Stranded in the countryside in the aftermath of a deadly outbreak, older brother Harry fights to protect his younger sister, Lily, while he desperately searches to find refuge with their father. Harry and Lily are determined to survive their journey as they strive to avoid an infected population with a thirst for blood as well as the greater threat of other survivors.

“State of Emergency” (2011) / Z-View

State of Emergency (2011)

Director:  Turner Clay

Screenplay:  Turner Clay

Stars: Jay Hayden

Tagline: When the dead walk, the living… run.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

When a chemical plant explodes, a toxin is released that turns people into blood thirsty cannibals.  The area is put on a military lockdown and survivors are to hunker down until help arrives.  Jim (Hayden) makes it to a farmhouse where three others have sought shelter.  Will they survive each other and the cannibals until help arrives?

State of Emergency is a low-budget, but well done film.  It is helped by a likeable cast, a decent story and able direction.  If you’re a fan of the genre, you should enjoy State of Emergency.

State of Emergency earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Zone of the Dead” aka  “Apocalypse of the Dead” (2009) Starring Ken Foree / Z-View

Zone of the Dead aka  Apocalypse of the Dead (2009)

Director:  Milan Konjevic, Milan Todorovic

Screenplay by:  Milan Konjevic from a story by Vukota Brajovic, Milan Todorovic

Starring: Ken Foree and Kristina Klebe

Tagline:  This City Is a Living Hell

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Agents Mortimer Reyes (Foree) and Mina Milius (Klebe) are transporting a dangerous criminal when a zombie apocalypse breaks out.  The agents and criminal join forces in an effort to fight their way to safety.  Think Assault on Precinct 13 meets Night of the Living Dead (but not nearly as good as either).

Zone of the Dead isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re in the right frame of mind and enjoy zombie films, you could do worse.

Zone of the Dead aka  Apocalypse of the Dead earns 2 of 5 stars.

“The Plague” (2014) / Z-View

The Plague (2014)

Director: Nick Kozakis, Kosta Ouzas

Screenplay by:  Kosta Ouzas

Starring: Don Bridges, Tegan Crowley, Scott Marcus and Steven Jianai

Tagline:  Pray you don’t survive.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

After a zombie outbreak, a small group of survivors have taken refuge in a barn.  Arguments about what do next tear the group apart and lead to murder.  Everyone but Evie (Crowley) is ready to move on.  Evie wants to wait for her boyfriend, John (Marcus) to return.  He finally does, but only Evie waited.

Neither Evie are John are well-suited for survival in this new world.  When Charlie (Jianai) arrives at the barn, they gain renewed hope.  Charlie is an outdoorsman, a marksman and just wants their companionship.  Charlies says in return he will feed and protect them.  What could go wrong with that?

John and Evie should know that sometimes the humans are the most dangerous part of a zombie apocalypse.

The Plague has an interesting idea, but falls short in the execution.  It’s not a bad film, especially for a low budget production.

The Plague earns 2 of 5 stars.

“It Stains the Sands Red” (2016) / Z-View

It Stains the Sands Red (2016)

Director: Colin Minihan

Screenplay by:  Colin Minihan, Stuart Ortiz

Starring: Brittany Allen, Juan Riedinger and Merwin Mondesir

Tagline:  It NEVER rests. It NEVER sleeps. It NEVER stops.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

A zombie apocalypse has just started.  Molly (Allen) and her boyfriend, Nick (Mondesir) have left Vegas and are driving to a remote desert airfield where friends are meeting to fly to a safe location.  When their car becomes disabled and a zombie kills her boyfriend, Molly has no choice but to attempt to walk across the desert to the airfield still miles away… with the zombie in slow pursuit!

It Stains the Sands Red takes an interesting premise and through dumb / illogical choices of Molly (and the screenwriters), the film becomes less scary and more irritating.  The idea of a zombie chasing you through an area where there are few places to hide, little in the way of weapons and a climate that will wear you down, while the zombie never tires, never sleeps and has no need for food or water is a good one.

Still it would be hard to sustain a feature film where a zombie follows a person for 90 minutes.  To their credit, Minihan and Ortiz add things/people to the mix.  Where the film goes south (for me) is when Molly begins to talk to the zombie and it responds.  C’mon folks!  Zombies are mindless eating machines.  They don’t think, they don’t listen and they don’t respond to commands.

It Stains the Sands Red earns 2 of 5 stars.

TRAIN 8 – The Zombie Express / Z-View

TRAIN 8 – The Zombie Express

Created and written by David Stephan and Marysol Levant
Additional writing and dialogue by Brian Phillipson
Art by Alex Cormack
Colors by Ashley Cormack and Alex Cormack
Letters and book design by Alex Murillo

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Train 8 is a high speed train traveling from Seattle to Chicago a few days before Thanksgiving.  The train is barreling along when a passenger infected with a virus dies and reanimates as a zombie.  Soon the train is out of control as passengers fight an ever-increasing number of the undead.  Surviving the zombies may not be enough, since the government has plans to destroy everyone and everything on the train!

Train 8 was originally written as a film script.  It probably would have made a cool movie.  As it turns out it’s not bad as a graphic novel.  Although the writing is a bit redundant/clunky in places, the story moves.  Some scenes are a little too dark, but that’s too be expected when the lights go out.  ; )    Props for the ending which is foreshadowed but is still a surprise and sets up a potential sequel.

Overall, I enjoyed Train 8.  If you’re a zombie fan, you should give it a look.

TRAIN 8 – The Zombie Express earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Carter” (2022) / Z-View

Carter (2022)

Director:  Byung-gil Jung

Screenplay by:  Byeong-sik Jung, Byung-gil Jung

Starring:  Joo Won, Kim Bo-Min, Sung-Jae Lee and Mike Colter

Tagline:  No Memory, One Mission

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

A man wakes up in a hotel room with no memory of who he is or how he got there.  A voice in his head tells him his name is Carter, a transmitter only he can hear is in his ear, a bomb has been implanted in his head and his mission is to rescue a young girl whose blood is the key to a cure to a virus quickly spreading around the world.  With that we’re off and running.

Carter is an all out action film with a small mix of sci-fi and a touch of zombies.  The movie takes place in real time and features over the top stunts and seldom slows down.  This is the film’s greatest strength and perhaps biggest weakness.  The fight scenes are so over-the-top we quickly understand that Carter is going to be able to take out dozens of attackers without so much as a scratch.

Normally this would be a turn-off, but the fight scenes take place in unique situations (outside of a building stories above the street, on motorcycles, in three side-by-side vans speeding down crowded streets, falling from an airplane without a parachute while engaging in a gun battle to get a chute, on a train, on a helicopter, from a truck to motorcycles, etc.) that it is easy to suspend disbelief.

I really enjoyed Carter, but was in the right frame of mind for an all out action film.  I hope we get a sequel.

Carter earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Birth of the Living Dead” aka “Year of the Living Dead” (2013) / Z-View

Birth of the Living Dead aka Year of the Living Dead (2013)

Director:  Rob Kuhns

Written by: Rob Kuhns

Starring:  George A. Romero, Elvis Mitchell, Mark Harris, Gale Anne Hurd and Bill Hinzman.

Tagline:  1968. Peace. Love. And the undead.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Rob Kuhns goes behind the scenes on the making of Night of the Living Dead.  George Romero is interviewed and some of his earlier commercials are shared.  Elvis Mitchell, Mark Harris, Gale Anne Hurd, Bill Hinzman and others share the impact Night of the Living Dead made on them.  If you’re a George Romero or Night of the Living Dead fan, then this is for you.  I give it 4 of 5 stars.

DARK OF NIGHT by Jonathan Maberry & Rachael Lavin!

Jonathan Maberry is one of the best and most prolific writers working today.  His Joe Ledger series is my favorite.  Others prefer his Dead of Night/Fall of Night or Rot & Ruin series.  I’ve read them as well and wouldn’t argue against someone liking them better.  With his new novel, Dark of Night, Maberry does something he’s not done before: He collaborates with Rachael Lavin and combines characters from all three of his series!

Dark of Night: The dead rose. We fell. The survivors are trapped in a world of monsters who prey on the helpless. Some of them are zombies…but they are not the only predators who feed on pain and suffering. DARK OF NIGHT is a story of worlds in collision. Three heroes who have survived the apocalypse are in a deadly race to save a busload of children from ravenous zombies and ruthless human scavengers. This brand new novella brings together three of New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry’s award-winning novel series. Captain Joe Ledger (PATIENT ZERO and CODE ZERO), Officer Desdemona Fox (DEAD OF NIGHT and FALL OF NIGHT), and Rachael Elle (BITS & PIECES, a Rot & Ruin novel) are caught between an endless wave of the living dead and an army of corrupt men who want to enslave the last human survivors. Jonathan Maberry teams with debut novelist Rachael Lavin to tell a sweeping story of adventure, horror, and heroism. Flesh and Fire: In the midst of a midlife crisis, Todd is haunted by Chloe, the lover who died not long after their relationship ended. When Chloe escapes Hell in search of the peaceful rest that has eluded her, a demon named Samael is on her trail and she needs Todd’s help. While on the run Todd and Chloe face demons real and personal, soul-threatening danger, and their long-buried feelings for each other.

Dark of Night Paperback
Dark of Night Kindle