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‘Army of the Dead’ Movie Review.

Army of the Dead is an exciting (and controversial) rock n roll thrill ride sweeping across a zombie-infested Las Vegas! At its core, this is a bank heist film with plenty of twists, turns, and WTF was that kind of moments. Zack Snyder throws his motley band of heroes – led by Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy 1, 2, Avengers: Infinity War) – directly into the rotting heart of the apocalypse. 

The movie is jam-packed with Easter Eggs and a lot of love for classic horrors from the past and packs a lot of (bite) punch for horror fans to enjoy. 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

Stakes are high and is the temptation of a few billion dollars really worth risking their lives against a zombie army? Stick around as we get deep and dirty into Army of the Dead and the road that led up to it!  

Reviving the Dead circa 2003

When I heard Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, 300, Justice League) was returning to the zombie field I was immediately intrigued. Snyder began his career with the zombie apocalypse so it was exciting to wonder what he had to bring to the genre that debuted his style, art, and themes.  

via Universal Pictures, ‘Dawn of the Dead’

It’s hard to believe how vastly popular zombies are today considering – not too long ago at all – there was a considerable lack of zombie movies. Some of our readers will know what I’m talking about. I mean it almost felt like the zombie genre was almost taboo. The sub-genre was something dirty that nobody wanted to soil their careers with and so the undead were as good as dead. 

I don’t think it’s out of line to propose that had it not been for Capcom’s Resident Evil games during the ‘90s zombies may have never been on anyone’s mind at all. But video games were proving that there was still some life stirring in the ghastly genre perfected by George Romero

And then they came crawling out of their graves to take the world by storm. I don’t know if the hyper paranoia of the dawning new millennium had anything to do with it, and, let’s be honest, it could be that entirely now that I’m looking back at it. Because as soon as 2000 rolled around the zombie film was resurrected. 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

And why wouldn’t it? Prophecy pushers were telling everybody that as soon as the clock clicked midnight and 1999 ended so would the world. We would be plunged into frenzied hysteria as machines turned against us and we fell back into a modern stone age. The world would end, Jesus was coming back, and electronics were gonna go KABOOM! 

Obviously, none of that happened but the apocalypse was still heavily on everyone’s subconscious. It was the perfect breeding ground for zombie movies. 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

I also don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a few movies, two, in particular, were responsible for reviving the living dead at the dawn of the new millennium. Those movies being 28 Days Later (2003) and the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004). 

Already collecting criticism and controversy over his debut, Snyder’s DOTD had fans of Romero’s horror classic furious that anyone could dare remake it. And, to the surprise of many, DOTD was an international success! People were not just talking about zombies but were foaming at the mouth about them! Smartly, Snyder’s movie does not feel like a shot-for-shot remake, and had it been given another name it may have won over even more fans upon its release. But outside of a story about a group of survivors taking refuge inside of a mall, it has nothing in common with the Romero classic. 

And, like 28 Days Later, it bared its teeth and furthered the idea of running zombies. These two films made the living dead even more challenging by giving them rushing bull-like speed as they chased down their unsuspecting victims who woke up to a dangerous new world where the grave was no longer safe. 

via Universal Pictures, ‘Dawn of the Dead’

Some people hated the concept but many were thrilled by it. And please don’t judge me too harshly but I’m one of those who really enjoyed DOTD. It definitely got me excited for zombies all over again. 

The zombie movie was back and it was taking no prisoners. 

Since then we’ve had the global success of The Walking Dead and it’s easy to say zombies have become a permanent fixture in pop culture’s heart. We even had a zombie rom-com that is…well yeah whatever. But what I wanted to know was could anyone bring something fresh and original to a subgenre that’s been shoved through the industrial meat processer and flushed onto home video, streaming services, and cinemas. Was there still anything new to bring home to the genre, kinda like what DOTD helped do with those screaming running horrors? 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

Army of the Dead says ‘hold my beer.’

Right off the bat, we’re shown an army convoy heading out of Area 51, and to drive the idea home there are two glowing UFOs in the distance, hovering silently and possibly watching the convoy before flashing skyward and utterly disappearing. I didn’t even notice the UFOs upon my initial watch but couldn’t deny them the next time around.  

Something about seeing two UFOs at the start of a zombie movie makes it eerie, like great old X-Files episodes. It tells us to expect the unexpected. 

The precious cargo being hauled across the desert via army convoy is none other than the Alpha, a new being of what can presumably be a super soldier gone wrong (or right?). Irreverently the mission comes to an abrupt end thanks to some unforeseen road head, and, you guessed it, the Alpha is released and proves to be far more formidable than any of the trained military troops are prepared to handle. 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

This is a movie that calls its audience a pussy if they’re not ready for the kind of experiences it has in store. As we’re introduced to Zeus, the alpha zombie, the start of a new kind of species, he rips, tears, and shreds his path through armed soldiers as he reforms their flesh, tainting their DNA with his own malignance, and builds his very own army. Zeus defies death and spreads disease wherever he goes. He then sets his eyes on the bright lights of Las Vegas and the intro credits begin. 

This movie starts right off with the middle finger and tells us this isn’t like what we’ve seen before. And let’s be honest, us zombie movie fans have seen A LOT! We have the likes of George Romero, Lucio Fulci, and Stuart Gordon. And know what? I’m gonna include Sam Rami even though his beasties are Deadites. The point being they were demon zombies or the Evil Dead. They were the dead brought back to life. 

My point is thanks to past zombie movies we’ve seen some crazy ass shit. I mean we’ve seen a zombie fight a shark under the ocean, zombies got on intercoms to call in more cops just to have more brains to eat, and Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) chainsawed his dead girlfriend’s head off, and then she danced for him. We love crazy shit in zombie movies, those happy little scenes that come out of nowhere and rip our faces off. Those are the moments we talk about, the moments that make these movies classic. 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

Oh yeah, and who can forget when a dead head gave Barbara Crampton head in Re-Animator

Us Drive-In Mutants eat this kind of stuff up! 

Army of the Dead gives us possible alien zombies. Imagine if Area 51 decided to fuck around with DNA splicing between an alien and a human. Well, that’s where Zeus (possibly, strong possibility) comes in. The super-soldier, the alpha zombie to kick-start Armageddon just because he can.  

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

But that’s not anywhere near enough though! Oh hell no. Then, like a sumbitch, the movie goes and throws friken cyborg zombies at us out of the clear blue! Then, once the initial WTF wears off, we’re left begging for more of that shit. And no, that wasn’t your imagination. Zac Snyder’s gone on record and insists there are legit robot zombies in the film and we will get to explore what that’s all about in the upcoming Army of the Dead anime movie. Holy shit! 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

But scattered across the dead streets of Las Vegas are Romero-like zombies called Shamblers. They’re a little dried out thanks to the Nevada sun but once it rains they come back to life for a few hours. So people who hated the fast zombies get their tried and true classic shambling zombie horde.  

But that’s just it. There are classes among the zombies. The shambling dried out ones who cluttered around the gates … oh yeah. Las Vegas has been walled off by shipping containers to keep the zombie legions locked in. But this is no prison, oh no. That’s too simple. Vegas has become a zombie kingdom ruled over by Zeus and his zombie bride. 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

So yes, this is a movie that dares to have different kinds of zombies all living together in a zombie kingdom ruled over by an intellectual class of the undead who strictly monitor the happenings both within and outside of their boundaries. Did you get that? There are intelligent zombies in this movie!

Zombies that can reason things out, communicate, make decisions and strategize. WTF, Snyder? Horror fans only expect so much out of a zombie movie and you go and slam down a sledgehammer on those very expectations. The film keeps giving us glimpses into a much broader lore than anticipated. With promises a future films in the making to further explore that lore. So what we see here is only the tip of the iceberg for what’s developing into a very interesting new zombie saga.

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

I don’t have enough fingers to type all this out fast enough and I’m trying to condense this review, but there’s so much to cover! I mean I just told you this movie has a zombie monarchy! And with the higher functioning zombies, it almost feels like a sense of telekinesis is shared. Maybe? But whatever the case these guys can and do communicate. This movie introduces a group of undead who are organized, structured, and driven by purpose. That makes them very scary and very dangerous. 

And just because we’re in Las Vegas we also get a zombie tiger. Oh, my unholy hell a zombie tiger that is infinitely cool! 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

Now all I want is for NECA to take note and let me have that zombie king astride his zombie horse (oh yeah, there’s that too) with his zombie tiger. My horror figure shelf is needing all that right now. 

Add to that a proposed infinite time loop that traps the heroes in an endless pursuit within the zombie kingdom with no escape outside of a gruesome death. It’s very likely these heroes are doomed to repeat their fatal decisions over and over, facing new deaths but no closure as they gradually draw closer and closer to reaching their goals. So the question is will they finally (if ever) escape from this grizzly fate?

Holy shit! There’s some heavy stuff in this zombie film!

If this was a video game I’d be on my feet and starving myself to death until completing every single mission. 

This movie is heavy metal and brutal to the bleeding core. 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

Needless to say, this is one helluva wild zombie movie, one we’ve been due for a long time now. It’s something to shake up the genre and informs us all that there’s so much more to be explored with tired and used zombie formulas. 

Criticism explored

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

It’s no secret people love to hate Zack Snyder and the haters are out in full force. The same people who accuse this movie of being a direct rip-off of Aliens will also praise the pants off of Star Wars. Meanwhile, George Lucas has gone on record to claim SW is nothing more than a direct rip-off of classic Japanese Samurai films. There’s nothing new under the sun and directors will repeat formulas that inspired them. It may only be a subconscious thing, or maybe it’s deliberate. 

Bottom line there are a lot of movies – films we all love to this day – that are guilty of this.

Let’s get this straight though. This movie is not Citizen Kane we’re talking about. It’s a bank heist zombie gore film using a fusion of action-adventure/horror/sci-fi elements. It was made to be fun and entertaining. And it does its job right. 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

Like I said some people love to hate Zack Snyder and are already predisposed to find fault and flaws in anything he does. I mean they hate his guts and act like he walked into their parent’s house and punched their mothers right in the face. 

If you do hate his movies but like horror films, especially stuff like Return of the Living Dead, Re-Animator, and Evil Dead (you know the fun ones) then you won’t want to miss out on this one. See it for what it is. A brand new zombie film that introduces some fresh elements to the genre. 

via Netflix, ‘Army of the Dead’

Now I’m ready for NECA to make me that zombie king on his zombie horse with his zombie tiger! 

Do it violently! 

March to the Grave: The Dual Vision of Romero and Fulci

Welcome back my little nasties! Just can’t get enough of the dearly departed, now could you? Well, that’s perfectly alright with me. I love the dead too, don’t you know? Oh and what a maggoty treat have I in store for you this time around!

Today we’ll be delving even further into the dripping depths of this rancid crypt of  living death. The worm dieth not here as we expound upon the very threshold of Hell’s widening maul. The lights are dim and Death is restless as we take a look back at two extraordinary horror masters and the connection between both of their nightmarish visions. The original infection that began in the mind of George Romero spread across the globe to mutate in the fetid imagination of Lucio Fulci, and zombie mania became unstoppable thanks to both men’s fiendish contributions.

In The Beginning, There was NIGHT


The late George Romero managed to do something few creative minds in the field of horror ever have the good fortune to accomplish. He invented a new monster, a monster that tore away taboos and desecrated the sanctity of the restful grave. Without explanation, the dead rose from the cold soil and stalked friends, lovers, and family without prejudice. We, the unfortunate living, were prey for a fresh new nightmare, a nightmare that took the globe by storm and essentially gave way to an entire sub-genre. That same sub-genre persists to this day with no sign of hesitation in sight.


Mondo Tees
image via Mondo Tees


It should be noted that Paw Paw Romero was well aware that zombies had already appeared in cinema. However, those zombies were worlds apart from what we now know them as. Growing up, Romero saw movies involving Haitian zombies, men or women, unfortunately, who have fallen victim to some very dark voodoo magic. They were will-less slaves lumbering about with wide-eyed abandon to serve their master’s beck and call.

Did Romero intend to reinvent these helpless creatures? Aw hell no, and he would be the first to correct us should we argue any differently. George Romero did not set out to create a zombie movie, but rather he wanted to create a whole new kind of monster – ghouls! Being the learned man that he was, Paw Paw Romero was quite aware that ghouls in folklore were known to haunt mist-shrouded graveyards and feed their sensational gluttony among the dead. It was his genius to bend the rules (just a  little bit) to his own liking and make the ghouls of his movie be the actual dead freshly risen from the graves and set about with an insatiable craving for warm human flesh.

With that idea in mind Night of the Living Dead was made and a new genre was begotten. Romero’s ghouls were an instant hit as audiences screamed their lungs out and watched under a veil of tears as the victims on screen desperately fought a hopeless battle for their very lives, with increasing fever to just survive the dire night of merciless carnage.

Audiences embraced Romero’s monsters, but with one condition. By and large, people accepted them as zombies and not as ghouls. Ask most people today and even still they’ll say it’s a zombie movie. I’ve never really heard Romero had any qualms with that either. His vision was a success and he did accomplish creating a new type of nightmare to scare us shitless.

With the insistence of fellow horror genius – Dario Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red) – Romero was invited to Italy where he would sit down and lay the groundwork for what many (even still to this day) consider the greatest horror movie of all time – Dawn of the Dead. For many fans, Dawn of the Dead became their favorite scary movie, and for good reason. The movie includes a little bit of everything for anyone.


Night Gave Way to DAWN Something Darker Still


Relentless, cruel and still good-natured, this was Romero’s answer to his original vision of dread. The movie would be in color this time around meaning all the blood would be quite noticeable. It would also feature the ingenious work of special FX legend, Tom Savini who has spent a lifetime exploring ways to show us death in the most visually violent ways as possible.

Romero welcomed us all to the Apocalypse!


Nightmare on Film Street
image via Nightmare on Film Street


From the very opening scene, Romero impresses upon the audience a world that has lost all control. We are introduced to the Apocalypse from a news broadcasting room livid with very real human reactions. The movie wastes no time and drops the viewer into this world where you now must follow a band of characters who are ill-prepared to deal with the world’s ending at the hands of the zombie plague.

This isn’t something anyone can prepare for, and it certainly proved to be something no audience at the time was prepared to handle. Savini’s gruesome work splashed across the big screen like foul art, a thing no one wanted to see but nobody could look away. It was a violent array of popping headshots, flesh-eating, and ghoulish fun.

Romero struck gold and genre fans couldn’t get enough of the simple formula he used.

This formula is repeated even still. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead or Resident Evil you have George Romero and his Dawn of the Dead to thank for that. Once again, the man reinvented himself and the monster he brought to life.


The Italian Echo of Living Death


When Dawn of the Dead was released overseas, in Italy the movie was simply titled Zombi. The film had a definite impact on one particular viewer – Lucio Fulci.


Film International
image via Film International


It’s been said that the screenplay for (what would become) Zombi 2 was written before Romero’s classic DotD was released. What is fact though is Lucio’s movie served as the unofficial sequel to Dawn, or Zombi, and hence the name Zombi 2.


VHS Archives
image via VHS Archives


Fulci’s contribution is brilliant. This is not some half-assed movie either, something quickly cooked upped to cash in on an internationally acclaimed hit. This movie has heart, a swollen, blackened heart beating with putrescent awe and terrible beauty.


image via Amazon


A few years ago Shriek Show was kind enough to releases an incredible 25th-anniversary edition of Lucio’s cult classic. This is the edition you’ll want to pick up if you’ve not seen the movie, love zombies, and have even the smallest bit of interest right now. To be honest this is my all-time favorite zombie film. Yup, even though I love Paw Paw Romero, Zombi 2 is my favorite out of all the great many zombie flicks to choose from. When asked why I always refer to one simple reason – this movie has everything I’d expect out of a zombie film. Lots of gore is a given, as well as actual visuals of the dead themselves rising from their graves. And these are rotting zombies too, so foul you can almost smell their ripe decay. Not to mention we get some pretty ladies running for their lives and heroes who don’t really stand a chance. This movie is chilling of its own accord and the slow pace build up is powerfully executed.


Mondo Digital.jpg


The one scene that stands out most to me – and if you know this movie you’ll probably already be guessing which one, but you’d be surprised to find you’re wrong – is what I call the’ zombie picnic’ scene (not the shark scene, although it’s also amazing). It’s just a scene featuring some zombies seated around a freshly dead victim. Her body is in oozing pieces. Blood is pooling everywhere and the living dead help themselves to the meaty morsels of her organs and muscles. Like I said it’s a great (and chilling) scene. One that takes a moment, hits pause on the action and just focuses on why we are afraid of zombies. We fear them because they feed off of us. Your spouse, your children, your best friend, should they die, will come back with a need to feed off of you. Or you, should you go first, will ultimately eat your own loved ones. That is the terror of zombies, that inescapable march to the grave, and not even the grave is safe anymore thanks to them. Weirdly it’s sometimes overlooked in so many other zombie movies.


The Series (?)

Now, wait, if we take this seriously, that would make Dawn of the Dead, Zombi 1. Sooo would that mean Night of the Living Dead is Zombi the Prequel? It’s kinda fun to let that be true. To imagine these movies are all connected. (And Disney tries to act like Marvel was first to do a shared universe)

There were follow up movies after Zombi 2 made its mark. We might get into those at a later time, but that’s going to be it for now. I hope you enjoyed our little visit with these flesh eating monstrosities. As always be sure to keep checking in to get all those warm thrills or eerie chills, all right here at Nightmare Nostalgia! I’m Manic Exorcism, and I bid you all farewell for now. Go while you still can, dearies. Hehehe.

March to the Grave – Cemetery Man!

Hello, my sweet gargoyles and ghouls. It’s your dearly demented friend, Manic Exorcism, asking you to join me on a lovely cemetery stroll where the departed, well, they just aren’t content to rest peacefully.  So grab a shovel – or a boomstick, should you prefer – as we unearth the unconsecrated bowels of these crypts and look at this underrated gem – Cemetery Man. Or also known as Della Morte Dell Amore.

The Zombie Genre

Once upon a time zombie films were few to be found. Cemetery Man, much like its festering brothers and sisters of the genre, was a definite rarity. That might seem shocking to our modern audiences today – who have been nursed on The Walking Dead, Resident Evil games, and countless tons of independent flesh eating atrocities – but zombie movies used to be hard to find.

Crazy, I know, right? Today we have too many of them. It’s an over saturation really, as if we’re overrun by hordes of living-dead films. Each one shambling over one another and inseparable in their rotten likenesses.  A drooling mess of celluloid brainless insatiable cravings, each of them clawing at us, demanding our numb attention and refusing to let us escape. A true epidemic and apocalypse. It is a wasteland of lost creativity.

giphy 2
image vie giphy

Wow!  Almost sounds like I hate zombie movies. I don’t, but admittedly I’m not a fan of the current state of them. They’re all too similar. Similar in tone, in style and even in their characters. Honestly I think that zombies were way scarier when they were rare.

The Cemetery Man

Cemetery Man came out during a golden age when film makers dared to take risks and tackled well-established tropes we were familiar with, but added some much-appreciated originality to a subject matter that otherwise would have been left rotting beneath the earth. There were some creative minds that brilliantly brushed away the layers of mold and breathed putrid life into those bones.


The problem I have with modern zombie incarnations is if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Stop me if this sounds familiar: a band of miss-matched survivors must face the undead legions across a dystopian landscape. Throw in some romantic drama and BOOM you have your zombie flick. CG blood effects will complete the mendacity and your indie zombie movie will get lost in the stinking tide of an over-used gimmick. 28 Days Later was part of the zombie renaissance and it’s formula has been recycled to death with few contributions adding any freshness to the field. But hey, I guess we can praise Zombeavers for its uniqueness. At least it was different!

(That’s not to say I don’t have my modern favorites. Shaun of the Dead is to be praised. So is Planet Terror. However, both of those movies were clear throw backs to that golden age of risky film making I already mentioned.)

On the contrary, films like Creepshow, Braindead, Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Creeps (they’re zombies, right?) and of course today’s subject, Cemetery Man all offered audiences something new, fresh, and (believe it or not) entirely unseen before. Who can forget the mean old bastard who rises from his wormy grave still demanding his father’s day cake? Or who else got hot around the color as our pre-pubescent eyes watched Trash bare it all and dance in a grave yard? (We love you Linnea Quigley!) We also got to see (whether we wanted to or not) zombies have sex  on a dining table and later give birth to a zombie baby who goes on to run amok across a playground. Holy shit! These movies were awesome!

They became instant cult classics and are still highly adored to this very day. There is no replacing them.  Their fandom swells with every new generation and will never lose steam as more audiences are introduced to their ingenuity and creativity.

They weren’t about any catastrophic dystopian society. They were about everyday people having a really bad, bad day. And we genuinely felt a connection with the characters.

Aside from practical effects do you know what each of these beloved movies have in common? They don’t take themselves too seriously. They made horror fun. They’re fun but not stupid, I must stress that. They are serious movies with some hard-core punk flare. They made us squirm, squeal and scream for more! That’s something gravely lacking in the majority of today’s zomb-zomb endeavors. Their tones are too serious for their own good or they try to be funny and just mock it up. (I guess there was a time when talent was a thing.)

If you’re a fan of any of these aforementioned punk-rock flicks then I can assure you that Cemetery Man is one you’ll want to see. The plot centers around our hero who is tasked with killing the freshly buried who rise from their graves. That’s it. What makes this movie remarkable are the scenes and visuals. The filmmakers had a great eye and at moments it feels like grotesque art come to life.

imdb 2
image via imdb

Honestly this movie is more beautiful than any zombie movie has any right to be. It’s hypnotic and at times you won’t be able to look away. The project was purely a work of inspiration.

The movie is also subtly deceptive. Sure, on the surface you’ll think it’s about a guy who shoots the living dead in the head. But then the film begins to explore intense subjects such as love and all of its treachery and the mysteries of Death itself. It becomes a gradual existential odyssey between the living and the dead.

Our cemetery man is played by Rupert Everett, a surprising role for him but very well done! He is assisted by a mentally challenged fellah, Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro), who is the perfect cross between Curly from the Three Stooges and Uncle Fester. Gnaghi is just too much fun. At one moment he crushes hard on the mayor’s daughter and throws up all over her as a sign of affection. There’s another great scene where he’s sitting down in front of the TV and happily eating some chocolate ice cream all the while his partner is busily fighting off a sudden invasion of the living dead. Gnaghi remains entirely oblivious the whole time.

nerd ninja
image via Nerd Ninja

Just like Return of the Living Dead this movie is damn cool. I mean what other movie will give you a zombie biker bursting out of his grave on his mother-fucking motorcycle? That and the Grim Reaper makes one Hell of an appearance that you won’t soon forget.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one and upon a re-watch, I now have a brand new favorite. I really hope that someday Arrow Video will give us a proper Blu-ray release of this sadly underrated cult classic.

villains wikia
image via villains Wikia

This has been Manic Exorcism thanking you for joining me on another macabre journey into the heart of darkness. Be sure to keep checking in here at Nightmare Nostalgia for all those lovely chills and thrills. I’ll catch you all later, my lovelies. And next time you won’t get away so easily. Heheheh

Cemetery Man (1994)