Doomsday Book (2012)
Directors: Pil-Sung Yim, Jee-woon Kim
Writers: Pil-Sung Yim, Jee-woon Kim
Doomsday Book was a bit of a surprise. It's a South Korean anthology film split up into three short stories. Only the first of these is actually a zombie story, so that's why it makes the list this year. Unfortunately it's probably the weakest section of the film. The first chapter "In A Brave New World," and the third chapter, "Happy Birthday," were both directed by Pil-Sung Yim, whose work I've not seen before. Both exhibit a wacky sense of the absurd and are more comedy than horror, despite both being about two different ends of the world -- by zombies and then by a giant 8-Ball falling from the sky after being ordered on the internet.
Yeah. I'm not sure where that came from.
The zombie story is clever, but doesn't really go anywhere. There's a bit of a love story and a particularly amusing bit that follows the origin and spread of the zombie plague. Both of Pil-Sung Yim's works are at their most entertaining when they are lampooning television; particularly news programs. "Happy Birthday" is bizarre, but satisfying. Despite not having any zombies.
The middle chapter is written and directed by Jee-woon Kim, the man responsible for The Good, the Bad, the Weird and I Saw the Devil, and tells the tale of a robot that becomes sentient. Well, not just sentient -- he becomes a Buddha. This, of course, signals the end of the world unless the robot is destroyed by its programmers. It's a beautiful little piece and even though it doesn't really fit the bill for this Easter Zombie Movie Marathon, it is easily the best work we've watched so far.
I'm becoming convinced that Jee-woon Kim can do no wrong.
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2010)
Director: Kevin Munroe
Writers: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer
Ostensibly based on the Italian comic book series, Dylan Dog, by Tiziano Sclavi (who gets name-checked before everything is said and done), this film stars Brandon Routh as supernatural detective Dylan Dog, and Sam Huntington as his side-kick, and newly reborn zombie, Marcus. It's a pseudo-noir that manages to hit just about every cliché one could imagine while managing to throw in one or two good moments here and there.
Mostly the good bits come from Huntington, who essentially plays the same character he does on Syfy's Being Human, only without the depth. And no, I'm not being facetious. Check out Being Human if you get a chance. For a re-imagining of a UK series that was pretty good to begin with, it's worth your time. His comedy timing is pretty spot-on and he does a very good shocked "oh my god what's happening to me!" kind of thing. He does it over and over again, but, well, what can you do?
The less said about Routh's performance, the better.
This movie has most of your classic monsters, vampires, werewolves, and zombies -- no ghosts though. Fuck ghosts. And of course, you've got vampires trying to find the key to destroying other monsters and taking over the world. Taye Diggs plays Vargas, the big boss vamp and is also charismatic and fun, even if he is really just phoning it in.
As far as the zombies go, there are two types in the world of Dylan Dog: the undead who are passing for human -- they don't eat human flesh, but live on rotting garbage, worms, and maggots and are kind of pathetic. They hold jobs and have a secret subculture that consists of zombie support groups and the Body Shop, where they can go to buy replacement body parts when theirs go bad.
There are also the actual flesh eaters. They aren't picky and will eat anybody that moves, even other zombies. I'm pretty sure there was an explanation for this somewhere in the movie, but I wasn't paying attention. The movie is pretty bad and about fifteen minutes too long. There's no way this should have gone past the 90 minute mark. There just wasn't enough to it, and Brandon Routh's horrendous voiceover narration -- it's noir, remember? -- made me want to turn it off repeatedly.
But I'm a trooper, goddammit.
I really can't recommend this one. However, if you have to watch a movie that is ostensibly based on the Dylan Dog comic, you really should see Dellamorte, Dellamore instead. It's an Italian zombie film directed by Michele Soavi and starring Rupert Everett. Seriously. Rupert Everett works as a cemetery caretaker tasked with re-killing the undead as they rise night after night. It doesn't really have much to do with the comic either (Dylan Dog is actually much more true to the source material), but it's so much better you won't regret the time spent.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot at Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook. You can also purchase his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation at Amazon US and UK. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at@PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.