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Mom and Dad (2017)

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Have you grown tired of getting disrespected by your kids and want to do something about it? The insane version of that answer lies in the solo directorial debut of Crank director Brian Taylor.

Carly Ryan is about to have the worst day of her life…literally. She learns that her parents are not letting her see her boyfriend Damon and instead stay home to see their grandparents. When Carly heads to school, things are about to get worse. Meanwhile, a series of attacks have been unleashed on children. When parents arrive at the school, the students wonder why the parents would all of a sudden show up. That is, until the parents begin to launch an attack on their own kids, killing or maiming them.

Carly soon finds herself running home and worried about her little brother Josh. Meanwhile, Carly’s father Brent and mother Kendall slowly begin to go through life’s stresses in a way that soon becomes unimaginable. When they return home, they too fall for the epidemic that has plagued children and begin to go after Carly and Josh. Having no other choice but to defend themselves, Carly and Josh must find a way to make sure they survive the night before their parents turn them into victims.

Brian Taylor, one half of the Neveldine/Taylor team behind Crank and its high-powered sequel, appropriately titled Crank 2: High Voltage, has crafted one of the craziest dark comedies with this Purge-like tale where for 24 hours, parents go postal and violent against their own kids. Perhaps the intention is to live out parents’ dark fantasies about what they would want to do about their kids when they show blatant disrespect and things go crazy from there. Even the opening titular sequence has a sense of the madness Taylor brings as it purveys a 70’s grindhouse effect.

The titular Mom and Dad couldn’t have been played better than by Selma Blair and Nicolas Cage. If you thought Cage has done some insane performances before, then Taylor lets Cage goes completely bats**t crazy in his role. Even in flashback sequences, Cage is truly as his craziest. There are times when you may question why Taylor would certain scenes include out of nowhere, but if you know Taylor’s repertoire, then that’s what expected. As for Blair, the usually level headed character actress gets a chance to break against type and is wonderful when she goes into savage mode.

Anne Winters holds herself well as a potential scream queen as Carly, Cage and Blair’s characters’ daughter who is seen as the typical teen female when it comes to having a sense of wanting to do as she pleases and gets all frustrated when she doesn’t get her way but then fears and fights for her life against her parents. In a way, some may feel the actions of the parents is a result of her blatant disrespectful ways but she does care about protecting her little brother, played by Zackary Arthur. Sure, little brothers can be annoying and he starts that way with Chloe, but ultimately he needs Chloe. Another shocking twist is the mindblowing cameo appearance from legendary actor Lance Henriksen, who right from the beginning of his scene, makes a heck of an impact.

Mom and Dad is basically a maddening family version of The Purge that truly is fun to watch as we get see Nicolas Cage at his craziest and Selma Blair against type in the insane titular roles and a potential scream queen in Anne Winters.

WFG RATING: A-

Momentum Pictures present an Armory Films production in association with Zeal Media. Director: Brian Taylor. Producers: Christopher Lemole and Tim Zajaros. Writer: Brian Taylor. Cinematography: Daniel Pearl. Editing: Rose Corr and Fernando Villena.

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Robert D. Cunningham, Lance Henriksen, Samantha Lemole, Olivia Crocicchia, Rachel Melvin.

Momentum Pictures will release this film in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 19, 2018.

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Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2018)

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The final installment of George A. Romero’s original zombie trilogy is given a re-imagining that holds its own in this film from director Hèctor Hérnandez Vicens.

Zoe Parker is a medical school student who has been working at an internship at a center where she is constantly approached by patient Max. Max has an obsession with Zoe, even going as far as tattooing her name on his arm. To celebrate the success of the last day of the internship, Zoe goes to a party where tragedy ensues. When Max attempts to assault Zoe, a cadaver comes to life and bites Max. This leads into the first of what would become a major zombie outbreak with Zoe becoming the only survivor.

Five years have passed and since witnessing the outbreak, Zoe decides to track down a cure for the disease. Zoe’s objective is to head to an abandoned bunker to do her research with the likes of her boyfriend Baca, Baca’s brother Miguel, and others. En route to the bunker, their transportation breaks down. This leads to the group doing what it takes to get to the bunker. When they finally arrive, Zoe learns of a shocking revelation, one that could be the key to finding the cure to stop and finally end the zombie outbreak.

1985’s Day of the Dead would be the final of the original zombie trilogy from the late great George A. Romero. The film has a zombie outbreak with survivalists in a military bunker. While that film would end in a more shocking manner, this reimagining takes that story and adds some major twists and turns that prove to be vital and in fact, from a scientific point of view, brings up a possible realistic manner in terms of finding a cure for the outbreaks.

The script by Mark Tonderai and Lars Jacobsen wisely took the core elements of the original film and under the direction of Hèctor Hérnandez Vinces, successfully makes it its own entity. In the original, there are zombies who are made to be docile, notably the character of “Bub”, played by Sherman Howard. In this film, “Bub” is replaced by Max, played by Jonathan Schaech. Max is first seen a creepy fellow who has an obsession with the potential heroine Zoe, played by Sophie Skelton. However, in the scene where he is ready to assault her, he is attacked by a zombie but just when you thought Schaech was making a cameo, he proves to be the pivotal supporting character that proves to be the catalyst for Zoe to do what is necessary to accomplish her mission.

This time around, the insane military officer that thinks all zombies should be dead no matter what is the character of Miguel Salazar, played by Jeff Gum. In an interesting move, the name of the character was also used in the original film as played by Anthony DiLeo Jr. In the original, Miguel was the boyfriend of the lead character, but here the boyfriend role goes to Baca, Miguel’s younger brother, played by Marcus Vanco. Baca is a really sympathetic character and stands by Zoe, even when a small rift is imminent.

In an age where CGI is primarily used, Vinces opts to take the practical effects approach and it becomes a very smart move. This is the piece de resistance as the film does bring a true homage to the Romero classic in terms of the zombie kills. Disembowlments, bites, and just sheer gore is displayed quite well in the film. However, unlike most horror films today, there is a sense of emotion that helps complement the terror that plagues the film.

While a loose 2008 remake didn’t fare well with fans, this 2017 reimagining of Day of the Dead, does bring a sense of emotion and a somewhat realistic scientific twist to the film. If you are curious or want to see a zombie film with an actual story, this may be just for you.

WFG RATING: B+

Saban Films and Millennium Media presents a Campbell/Grobman Films in association with Nu Boyana. Director: Hèctor Hérnandez Vicens. Producers: Christa Campbell, Lati Grobman, Boaz Davidson, James Glenn Dudelson, Robert Franklin Dudelson, and Jeff Rice. Writers: Mark Tonderai and Lars Jacobson; based on the 1985 film “Day of the Dead” by George A. Romero. Cinematography: Anton Ognianov. Editing: Damien Drago and Ivan Ivanov.

Cast: Sophie Skelton, Jonathan Schaech, Marcus Vanco, Jeff Gum, Mark Rhino Smith, Lillian Blakenship, Shari Watson, Lorina Kamburova, Rachel O’Meara, Cristina Serafini, Luke Cousins, Nathan Cooper, Nick Loeb, Bashar Rahal.

Get Ready for a “Dawning” This December

This holiday season, don’t expect gifts, but expect a zombie apocalypse.

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In Dawning of the Dead, inspired by the late great George A. Romeroa virus causes the dead to reanimate brings the world to its knees and the scientist responsible entrusts his cataclysmic findings to Katya Nevin, a troubled ex-war correspondent turned anchor-woman at W.W News. While she and the rest of her crew witness the collapse of society via video feeds from around the globe, a deadly special agent climbs the building floor by floor, his only goal to ensure her silence. Armed only with information and an indomitable will to live, Katya must overcome her crippling anxiety and learn to lead in order to make it out of the studio and into a terrifying new world where only the dead survive.

The British zombie film stars Honey HolmesLeo GregoryPixie Le Knot, and Sean Cronin. The film was a collaborative effort between filmmakers Tony JopiaNika BraunYannis Zafeiriou, and Alexander Zwart.

Uncork’d Entertainment will release Dawning of the Dead on Digital HD on December 5, followed by a DVD release on March 6, 2018.

 

Primal Rage (1988)

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From the makers of Welcome to Spring Break come this horror tale that taps into primitive actions but amped up in this B-movie horror film.

Sam Nash is a photographer for the local college newspaper. He has been constantly harassed by his best friend Frank Duffy to do an expose on illegal experimentation on monkeys in the science lab. Sam, however, doesn’t want to get involved until all the facts are revealed. Going to great lengths to prove that something is not adding up, Duffy goes to the lab late at night and finds a monkey inside a cage. Taking pictures of the monkey, Duffy thinks he has the proof. However, the monkey breaks out of the cage and bites Duffy before escaping through the window only to get killed after the police arrive and are stunned.

As Sam gets long with new student Lauren, Lauren introduces him to her roommate Debbie. Sam offers Duffy a date with Debbie and the two seem to hit it off. The next day, an ill Duffy goes to the clinic to get checked out. He exhibits some rage when he impatiently waits. All of a sudden, Duffy apparently faints. That night, he awakens and has mutated, attacking a policeman. Meanwhile, Debbie begins to go through a sudden change and when three frat boys plot to attack her, she unleashes her rage attack against the frat boys. When Sam discovers what has happened, he and Lauren must find a way to stop the raging attacks before more get infected.

From Italian director Vittorio Rambaldi comes this horror film that tapes into the primitive rage of humans that delves into madness. The first half hour of the film kind of starts slow but provides a good set up of the characters who are involved. There’s the required innocent couple in photographer Sam and freshman Lauren, played by Patrick Lowe and Cheryl Arutt, who must find a way to stop the chaos when their best friends find themselves injected by an accidentally discovered “rage virus” when moneys are being experimented on. Lowe’s other memorable appearance in a horror film was that of being the first true victim of the Driller Killer in Slumber Party Massacre II a year before so it is more better to see him play the hero this time around.

The first to get infected in the film is Sam’s best friend Duffy, played by Mitch Watson. An overexcited reporter desperate to get an expose on the experiments, he starts out feeling unwell but well enough to go on a date with Lauren’s best friend Debbie, played by Sarah Buxton, who would go on to a successful career in Hollywood. While this takes about half hour for the film to pick up, it is well worth the wait as when we see the infected in rage modes, they look quite nasty and proceed to kill anyone who stand in their ways, showing that primitive side that has long been dormant but awoken from the virus.

What brings more chaos is the scene where Debbie is attacked by campus bully Lovejoy and his goons. Using a pretty good strobe-light effect, Debbie’s rage is unleashed and she infects the trio of thugs with all going down at the campus Halloween party. The theme music by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti is fantastic and fits the rage that is unleashed. Add to the mix the special effects by Carlo and Alex Rambaldi, in which the infected all have a look that shows a bit of disfigurement that looks quite nasty. The film does make good of the setting of Florida International University in Miami as it looks like all of the film was shot there and in nearby locales.

Primal Rage is quite an interesting entry in the 80’s horror genre, bringing something fresh such as a deadly outbreak on campus and breaking the stereotype of having the “final girl” and instead have a “final couple”. Some decent special effects and Simonetti’s score really drive the film as well.

WFG RATING: B

Laguna Entertainment presents an Elpico S.A. production. Director: Vittorio Rambaldi. Producer: William J. Immerman. Writer: Harry Kirkpatrick. Cinematography: Antonio Climati. Editing: John Rawson.

Cast: Patrick Lowe, Cheryl Arutt, Sarah Buxton, Mitch Watson, Bo Svenson, Doug Sloan, Luis Valderrama, John Baldwin, Turk Harley, Jennifer Hingel, Barry Schreiber.

Train to Busan (2016)

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This is one train ride you will not want to take when an outbreak unleashes a horde of zombies in this exciting Korean thriller.

Workaholic hedge fund manager Suh Seok-Woo has not been there much for his daughter Su-An, whose birthday is coming up. At the request of both her and her mother, who has been divorced from Seok-Woo, Su-An wants to see her mother for her birthday in Busan. Despite his reservations, Seok-Woo decides to take Su-An on the train to Busan. They board at a KTX station, where they come across the likes of working class man Sang-Hwa and his pregnant wife Seung-Kyung; a high school baseball team, two elderly sisters, and an arrogant selfish company CEO, as well as a homeless man who goes to the washroom and begins to freak out.

When a runaway girl enters the train, she is seen to be seriously hurt. However, the girl slowly transforms into a zombie and begins an outbreak within the train. The group head towards another train car and soon find themselves trapped until they are able to reach other station. As the group finds a station, they have learned the outbreak has spread and the group of survivors find themselves under constant attack. Some make it, and some don’t. One thing is for sure, Busan is the last safe haven for the survivors and to get there, they must board the train and protect themselves at all costs. Who will survive and who will fall?

Remember the movie Snakes on a Plane that pretty much tells what the story is about? This film may as well as be called Zombies on a Train. Yet, this is a really good film thanks in part to not only having such influences from the likes of George Romero and company, but what’s even more fascinating is the fact that once someone gets bitten, they automatically turn instead of being dead, they become the living dead literally. Some of the physical aspects of the zombies are quite interesting in terms of their movements. It must have taken dedication from these physical stunt actors to really dish out the madness. Let’s also remember these are not zombies that move slow, but run at breakneck speed at times and just go for the jugular.

The core group themselves are an eclectic bunch who may seem to have that stereotypical aspect when it comes to characterization. Gong Yoo is the divorced dad who attempts to make some sort of amends with his daughter. Ma Dong-Seok’s Sang-Hwa is the working class man who at first has no liking to Gong’s Seok-Woo because of some actions and because of his job. However, while they do work together to stop the zombie horde, there is one character that has to be the selfish one who will only care about themselves so much they will not only push anyone in their way to escape, but go as far as convince others that other survivors are infected in an attempt to save their own tail. From the get-go, you can guess what character that is, and let’s face it, wishes throughout the film they get theirs.

Most of the zombie action takes place on the train and there is a nice fight scene where we see Seok-Woo, Sang-Hwa, and one of the baseball players attempt to reach the other survivors by taping their arms to prevent from getting bitten and use anything they can, in the case of Sang-Hwa, some kickboxing like moves to fend off the zombie horde. It is here where they discover that like everyone, even the zombies have a weakness. And no, it is not a weak point on their bodies, but something even more interesting. Something that shows there is still a bit of human quality to the living dead.

Train to Busan is a thrilling zombie action thriller that can be said to have a re-title of Zombies on a Train, with an eclectic cast involved and most of the action taking place on the train, making good on its promise. If you like zombie films, then this is one to definitely check out.

WFG RATING: A

Well Go USA Entertainment presents a Next Entertainment World production in association with RedPeter Film. Director: Yeon Sang-Ho. Producer: Lee Dong-Ha. Writer: Park Joo-Suk. Cinematography: Lee Hyung-Deok. Editing: Yang Jin-Mo.

Cast: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-Seok, Jung Yu-Mi, Kim Su-An, Kim Eui-Sung, Choi Woo-Shik, Ahn So-Hee, Choi Gwi-Hwa, Jung Suk-Yong, Ye Soo-Jung, Park Myung-Sin, Jang Hyuk-Jin, Kim Chang-Hwan, Shim Eun-Kyung.