Monday, January 5, 2009

mattei son.

Zombies: the Beginning (AKA Zombi: La creazione. 2007).
Dir: Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn).
Cast: Yvette Yzon, Gerald Acho, Alvin Anson, Dyane Craystan, Jim Gaines, Paul Holme, B.B. Johnson, James Gregory Paolleli and Mike Vergel.

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Discovered floating on a makeshift raft somewhere off the coast of Blackpool, the lone survivor of the good ship Dark Star, Sharon ( Yzon, back for more) is taken to a local hospital by a group of hunky yet spookily dubbed medics where, unlike the previous films ending, she doesn't die and return as a zombie but just has bad dreams about rising from the dead instead.

What a cheat!

If that wasn't bad enough, the insurance company seem hell bent on blaming her for the loss of the ship/death of the crew rather than believe her tale of marauding zombies, creepy Conquistadors and flamenco dancing demons inhabiting an island that can't be found on any nautical map.

I mean, who'd make that shit up?

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"I never done it!": Yzon, Shot to fuck but
still fitter than your mum.



Whilst the fat cats tut loudly Sharon is forced to swear at an old woman and knock a glass of water over before stomping off in a huff to live in a monastery.

As one would if you'd been pulled up at work accused of killing your workmates (and writing off the delivery van).

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No, it's not a pearl necklace nor did I give it to here.


Skip forward a year and Shazza is still in the monastery, sleeping on the floor, having flashbacks to the last movie (on a plus side tho' the monks outfit and slicked back hair makes her look hotly exotic), fetching water and other stuff that monks do when, out of the blue (well, out of a car but you know what I mean) one Mr. Barker (Holme), representative of an important pharmaceutical company The Tyler Company (that is no way related to The Umbrella Corporation or Weyland Yutani) turns up to see her.

Seems that six months earlier his company sent a scientific team to the very same island to capture a few undead specimens to transport to a secret lab to experiment on.

All contact with the team has been lost so Barker wants Sharon to head up a rescue mission, consisting of a squad of tough marines, one of which looks like a down at heel, heroin addled stripper (yes, I'm talking about you Craystan), the aforementioned Barker and a geeky scientist to the island to discover what's happened.

Hang on, this plot sounds very familiar.

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Anson might look the suave, macho bastard right
now
but you just wait till the fucking starts...


Arriving at the secret island research centre (in reality a couple of lean to sheds and a disused tennis court) via model submarine our happy go lucky marines head towards some stock footage of a gas works in the vain hope of unraveling the mystery of the disappearing scientists.

Hint: zombies may be involved.

Setting up camp in a disused lab the team are horrified (well I think the reaction is horror, it may be mild apathy) to discover row upon row of strange, coffin-like glass containers housing all manner of bizarre, genetically altered humans (oh, and a few Tiny Tears dolls painted green) and a wall of steel cages containing a dozen or so very dead (and very naked) Filipino extras.

Suddenly and without warning (well, if you discount the slightly scary music building to a crescendo and monsters eye view of the scene) a hideously deformed, split stomached woman lunges out of the shadows towards a terrified Barker.

Luckily studly marine Taylor (Anson) is on hand to shoot her in the face whilst grimacing badly.

Insert cock here.


Deciding that it'd probably be a good idea if they had a wee look around and secured the area (rather than all vying to get into shot whilst trying to look the most scared), tough guy Thompson (loud voiced Acho...bless you) leads the squad into what looks like a post rave warehouse to look for any survivors.

After what seems like an eternity of Thompson shouting orders whilst lard arse Private Ludman (Vergel) quotes entire pages of Hudson's dialogue from Aliens the eventual gloom and deathly silence is abruptly broken by the 'ping ping' of the teams motion detectors.

Someone (or something) is approaching...

Could it be a vile mutant thing?

An undead horde?

A giant chicken perhaps?

no.

It's a naked dwarf, covered from head to (tiny) toes in green house paint wearing a pair of joke shop Austin Powers-esque teeth and a paper mache headpiece with a ping pong ball eye stuck to the top.

Dribbling.

Taking a minute to compose themselves (and no doubt a filming break to dry their eyes), our macho mob do what any self respecting person would (no, they don't pick the wee fella up and give him a hug).

They torch the freaky fucker with a flamethrower.

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...Iggle Piggle's not in bed....



Legging it back to the lab like a pack of terrified Brownies escaping from a tent with a spider in it, Ludman spends the next ten minutes complaining that 'We're not equipped for this shit!' (what? how can you not be equipped for setting fire to dwarfs?) and trying to convince a by now almost sonic booming Thompson that they should all go home.

Just when it looks like they may just pack up and call it a night (which had me worried cos it means I'd have to pick another movie to watch and I've only got Black Sun- The Nanking Massacre, a compilation of Doctor Who fan films and Bloody Beast within reach at this point), the stripper points out that she's found the location of the missing members of the scientific crew. It seems that each one has a special tattoo that works a bit like a car alarm or something which means that the mission is back on (much to Ludman's delight).

Everyone gets suited and booted for a quick trip to the bases underground power core to grab the scientists and head home in time for tea.


"Rrrrrrrraaaaaauuughhhhhhhh Rrrrroooowwww!"



Leaving Barker, Shazza, specky Brit science guy and man in charge Lt. Gorman (well, this movies equivalent) behind to watch the teams progress on teevee the squad sneak across the car park, behind the bins and into the (wooden doored) power station.

Moving deeper and deeper into the complex they come across a vast (well, I say vast, it's about the size of a small kitchen) storeroom filled with plastic wrapped bodies suspended from hooks, slime oozing from the walls and an unnatural and thoroughly evil eggy smell emanating from a large vent in the wall.

And if that wasn't enough, on a large table in front of them lies a frighteningly pregnant woman with oozing excema and really bad dentures.

Kramer (still shit faced on cheap crack), being the lady of the group, goes over to comfort this poor wreck, who can only mumble "kill me" before her stomach erupts in a shower of grue revealing a melted doll covered in syrup.

Cue the flame thrower (well they have paid thru' the nose to hire it).

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Exotic sweaty girls with machine guns....
what all cinema should be about.



Whilst all this is happening, Private Soontodie nervously peers thru' the hole (probably looking for biscuits) just as a horde of unwashed homeless extras crawl out, moaning and shuffling like a band of Glasgow neds on a Saturday night out.

The soldiers panic and start firing off indiscriminately before legging it back to the school bus (sorry, armoured personnel carrier) parked outside.

Shazza, stuck behind a teevee monitor watching a bunch of highly trained fighting machines running screaming thru' dingy corridors whilst piss stained tramps try to bite their arses, decides it's time to act (no, i'll resist the temptation to comment), grabbing a big gun and charging to the rescue whilst Barker stands around stroking his beard and Gorman repeatedly takes off his hat and rubs his head in a kind of 'what the fuck have I agreed to be in?' manner.

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"It's Cccccccchhhhhrrrrriiiissstttmmmaaassss!!!!!!"


After an explosive shoot out and subsequent rescue that would make a gang of five year olds playing soldiers proud the survivors regroup in a nearby kiddies playhouse to plan their next move.

And it's not looking good for our heroes.

The submarines not due back for a fortnight, they're almost out of ammo and it looks like there's a traitor in their midst.

Kramer it turns out, is the teams electronics expert (everything else I can accept but this is a leap too far) and volunteers to go out and fix the antennae array (from the state of her I wouldn't trust her to fix me a sandwich) whilst the others sit about and sweat.

Everything seems to be going to plan until Barker tries to kill Sharon (yup, he's a bad guy, trying to sneak zombies back to the mainland to help cure cancer or something), Kramer gets ripped in half by a gorilla (no, really) and the undead break thru' the cardboard lab doors hungry for flesh (and by the way they look at Taylor a wee bit of tanned manass too).

Inside Gary Glitters mind.



The retreat is short and bloody leaving only Taylor and Sharon alive and stuck in the back of a van surrounded by the undead (and unwashed).

But it's not all doom and gloom, luckily Kramer's sacrifice (oh, OK, stupidity in not seeing a bloody great gorilla) wasn't in vain, she managed to send an SOS to the sub and it'll be on site in an hour or so.

Giving Sharon just enough time to head into the bowels of the base to confront the real horror behind the zombie menace....

Mattei had a hard job ahead of him if he was going to match the all round shoddiness and ineptitude of Island of The Living Dead when he decided to film this nail biting sequel - luckily he managed to not only match it but in some ways even surpass the unbelievable levels of incompetence achieved previously.

The plot (and much of the dialogue) is borrowed wholesale from Aliens with the climax of the Luigi Cozzi classic Contamination thrown in for good measure, all held together bythe largest collection of non actors ever assembled in one room, every one of the bravely and with surprising straightness, uttering the most clich├ęd and banal dialogue ever committed to celluloid.

And frankly it's a joy to behold.

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Yvonne contemplates the stuffed crust.


Thoughout the rot there are shots that echo the greatness of Bava and Argento, reminding you of Mattei's early career as a film editor and whilst none of his films ever live up to there basic premise, his unwavering belief in and love for horror cinema coupled with his willingness to embrace new technologies and ideas enabling him to carry on working well after most of his contemperaries had thrown in the hat.

Never anything less than totally entertaining, Mattei's gore soaked swansong is the perfect end to an illustrious career in zombie cinema.

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