After spending years out of print, it’s good to see Fred Dekker’s eighties horror classics finally being given the special treatment that they deserve. For fans of the 1986 “Night of the Creeps,” they’ll be happy to know that Dekker’s zombie comedy hasn’t aged much at all. While it’s very much of its time, it still allows for an accessible and very interesting mix of horror, science fiction, coming of age, and romance that’s tough to beat. Plus, there’s Tom Atkins who is just downright fun in the role of detective Ray Cameron.
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Night of the Living Deb (2016)
Ever since “Shaun of the Dead,” many filmmakers have been intent on delivering their own horror comedies about self obsessed thirty somethings thrust in to the zombie apocalypse. Kyle Rankin’s “Night of the Living Deb” is not a masterpiece by any definition of the word, but it ends up being a decent diversion that has a good time using zombies as a means of emphasizing the dynamic between our main characters. Set on the fourth of July, awkward Deb awakens in the apartment of her love interest Ryan. Though she’s in love with him, Ryan isn’t entirely interested in her and is anxious to get her out of his life as soon as possible. Little do either of the pair know that overnight their small town of Maine has been consumed by a zombie apocalypse and everyone they known are now flesh eating zombies.
The Noah (1975)
The shockingly obscure masterpiece “The Noah” is an exploration of grief through a man named Noah’s solitude as he realizes he’s the only person left on the planet. Set on a desolate island where supplies are cumbersome but humanity has diminished, our character Noah drifts by a life raft to the shore, and makes it his home. Even though he’s realized that humanity has become extinct due to the war, he makes it his mission to turn the island into his domain and keep himself occupied. He now sees a responsibility in staying alive to preserve his race for all time. He is literally the only person on the planet, thus he must engage in a battle against isolation, and loneliness.
Night of the Something Strange (2016) [FrightFest 2016]
A group of friends hell-bent on going to the beach for spring break embark on a road trip during which they stop at a small town cheap motel. As they arrive, an STD-like disease is ripping through town. Directed by Jonathan Straiton who wrote the story it’s based on and co-wrote the script with Ron Bonk and Mean Gene. The story they create is completely dependent on gross out sex jokes and monster rape. The film still manages to keep things fairly lighthearted as things are approached in a way that works for its subject matter.
The Neverending Story (1984)
IN LIMITED RE-RELEASE September 4th and September 7th – Wolfgang Peterson’s fantasy epic is a tribute to the thrill of reading and a pretty excellent meta trip in to the human psyche that can often help build the worlds we read on the page. “The Neverending Story” takes great strides in delivering a unique fantasy experience, and it’s nice to see Peterson aiming for something different in a decade where every studio wanted their own “Star Wars.” Despite being adapted from the novel and embracing its format, “The Neverending Story” feels a lot like an experience you can find with “The Princess Bride” in which we get to experience such a vast world that is brought to life with the thrill of storytelling.
Novaseed (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2016]
Director Nick DiLiberto’s animated science fiction epic could be considered a part of a new “Heavy Metal” anthology if we ever get a remake any time soon. DiLiberto’s animated epic owes a lot to Ralph Bakshi and the sensibilities of the original animated movie, except without any of the exploitative and misogynist overtones. “Novaseed” is a classic hero journey tale of a mastermind rising to power in a post apocalyptic wasteland and one hero stepping up to stop him and save someone very special. When the world is threatened by the maniacal Dr. Mindskull, the government begins looking for champions to step up and challenge him.
DiLiberto pulls a switcheroo on us and a clever turning of the cliché, as he features a gladiator match with a lion-man who automatically becomes the film’s hero once he manages to step forward and prove his courage against his sword wielding foe. From there, hero Nac claims the enigmatic prize that everyone in the world is searching for, and is confronted with Mindskull who challenges Nac’s opposition. DiLiberto’s animation is very low budget and apparently seemed to be based around rotoscoping much in the way Ralph Bakshi exercised for his epics. While the apparent style is hard to discern at first glance, it becomes apparent and tends to elevate the material well.
Due to the low budget our hero Nac is, for the most part, mute for his time on film. Through this drawback, his character presents an action speaking louder than words movement with his character exposition until the very end. “Novaseed” is a strong and unique science fiction animated adventure that relies a lot on simplicity and recognizing its own limitations during the narrative. It has a very “Mad Max” and Bill Plympton sensibility to it with massive desert wastelands and futuristic warriors roaming the land and plundering while Nac seeks to escape the clutches of the government and battle Mindskull. All in all, it’s very much a tribute to the eighties underground animated films and one that I enjoyed, simply for its understanding of why Bakshi’s films stand out among the other animation in the medium.
If you love briskly paced, action packed, violent post apocalyptic sagas and with a rough around the edges sincerity, “Novaseed” will win you over as it did me.
Never Tear Us Apart (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2016]
Sid Zanforlin’s short horror comedy is a fantastic bit of gruesome, grue, and slapstick comedy that will definitely strike a nerve with folks that like HG Lewis. I am shocked how much Zanforlin is able to squeeze in to in only seven minutes in length. And considering this is a proof of concept for a potential feature film, I think Zanforlin has enough material for a potentially bonkers splatter horror comedy down the road. Filled with amazing special effects by Justin Tripp, Zanforlin centers his film on two young men traveling to meet their family who stop alongside the road.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)
I liked “Neighbors” for what it tried to accomplish, but in the end it wasn’t a complete home run. Considering five people worked on it, “Neighbors 2” is a shockingly superior follow up to the original 2014 comedy. While it is, in essence, a cash in, it’s also a much more socially relevant comedy that offers interesting ideas and commentary about equality of the sexes, and how the deck is stacked against young women in society. “Neighbors 2” doesn’t get preachy, but it does provide audiences with a glimpse at how young women are much more objectified and taken for granted than younger men.