Thursday, December 24, 2009

Silent Night, Deadly Night

The start of “Silent Night, Deadly Night” informs me that I’m watching the most complete and uncut version ever released. And that some of the “elements” of the film might not look too good.

So if this write-up is less pleasing than usual, you’ll have to excuse me. It’s probably because there’s too much film grain.

As the story begins, an animated wreath pushes up towards the screen and a little kid’s voice sings a Christmas song that no one has ever heard of. Over the wreath are the words Silent Night, and then BOOM, a splash of animated blood, and the bottom words appear: Deadly Night.

And then: Credits! And loud, clangy music. I almost doubt this music was composed, so much as rendered by a dude with things that go “Clang.”

Oh, wait, we have actual music. And also, we are informed that this movie was written by one guy, based on a story by another guy. That’s right, it took two people to write this movie. I hope you appreciate how hard they both worked.

Finally, the credits end, and a burn-in tells us it’s “Christmas Eve, 1971.”

A car is driving along the highway somewhere near some mountains. There’s also a cow in the foreground. Good job, set dressing guy.

Inside the car, there’s a mom and a dad and a little boy. And a baby, in mom’s lap, because in 1971 no one cared about car seats. The baby boom was not that far away in everyone’s memory, and people knew they could make more kids quickly and cheaply, so they thought, “Why protect this one?”

The family is listening to yet ANOTHER Christmas song no one has ever heard of. Do the people who made this movie not realize that most classic Christmas songs are in the public domain?

The little boy asks what time it is. Then he asks when Santa Claus is coming. Then he asks if he can stay up and see Santa. His mom tells him it’s naughty to stay up past his bedtime.

Seriously, yo. This is why I’ve sort of come to dislike the idea of Santa during the holiday season. The Fat Man just exists to keep little kids from being trouble. Whatever happened to using actual discipline?

Mom then tells the boy, “Santa Claus is going to bring you a big surprise tonight.” Given the subject matter, this is either the most ham-fisted screenwriting ever, or pure poetry.

The car rolls along. And the radio plays more Christmas music you’ve never, ever, heard.

Finally, the car pulls into a driveway – for the Utah Mental Facility.

Inside the hospital, a doctor tells the Father: “I had your father brought to the recreation room. Right this way.” This is going to be awesome.

In the rec room, Grandpa is sitting in a rocking chair, staring at nothing. The family tries to talk to him, but he’s clearly pretty catatonic. The little boy wants to know why they came, if Grandpa can’t hear them.

The doctor tells the family that Grandpa’s updated records are in the doctor’s office. So the family leaves Except for the little boy. He’s told to stay with grandpa.

As a parent, I can’t say I like tantrums, but if this kid wanted to throw one now, I think he would be well within his rights as a human being.

Mom says, “Don’t worry, Grandpa’s not going to hurt you.” Ha-ha!

The family leaves, and grandpa looks over at the boy. And wakes up. And starts monologueing about Santa Claus. How he only brings presents to good girl and boys. “All the naughty ones… he punishes.”

Grandpa asks the boy if he’s been good all year. The boy shakes his head no, despite the fact that he’s, like, four. I mean, not that four-year-olds are perfect, but seriously, it’s not like he founded an international crime ring.

Or maybe he did. No way to be sure.

Grandpa presses on in light of the fact that his grandson is naughty. “You see Santa Claus tonight, you better run boy. You better run for your life.” And then, maniacal laughter.

Until the parents show up. Then he’s back to being Catatonic Grandpa. The family leaves, with the little boy saying, “I’ll be good from now on, I promise.”

Back in the car, now it’s nighttime, and the boy wants to know if his mom was ever naughty. The boy’s name is Billy, by the way.

Mom says yes, and Billy says that Grandpa said that Santa Claus was going to punish him, and now he doesn’t want Santa Claus to come to the house. I’ll give it up for the parents on this one – they actually believe Billy is telling the truth about what Grandpa said.

Grandpa is my hero, by the way. Dude sits around all the time, people feeding him, wiping up his toileting errors… and then, every once in a while, he gets to scar a kid for life. The man is a stone genius. He’s like the Andy Kaufman of evil Grandpas.

Mom calls Grandpa a crazy old fool, and Billy notes that mom has been naughty, and that Santa is going to punish her. Kid turned on mom pretty quick.

Meanwhile, in a local gas station, a man dressed as Santa buys some smokes. Then pulls a gun, kills the manager of the gas station, and takes the money: thirty-one dollars. Santa is displeased at this offering.

Santa gets in his big red car and drives away.

Back in the family vehicle, mom and dad converse about the fact that they have a ways to go while Billy sleeps in the back.

They look up, and see that “Santa’s” car has broken down in the road. Billy wakes up and demands that they drive on and don’t stop.

But dad stops. Bad call, dad.

“Santa” comes up to the window, and Dad asks if Santa needs any help. Santa pulls a gun. Dad cranks up the car and tries to drive away in reverse. Santa shoots dad in the head, and the car falls into a ditch.

The baby is screaming.

Billy gets out of the car and runs for the opposite ditch. So he gets to watch while mom is dragged out of the car. Santa yanks mom’s shirt open, and she hits him. So he cuts her throat.

Santa gets up and tries to locate the kid. We get some shots of the screaming baby, the dead dad, and the dead mom… but we never do find out what happens to “Santa,” because the scene fades over to:

“December, 1974.” At the Saint Mary’s Home for Orphaned Children. Which, oddly, has a Santa out front. You would think the Catholic Church would be more into the Baby Jesus story.

Probably a lot of issues in this movie could be avoided if people focused more on that aspect of things. Alas.

Inside the building, Billy is at school, and being taught by a nun. The nun asks him to put his picture of Santa up on the bulletin board, only he’s done something bad on his drawing, and must show it to Mother Superior.

So he takes the picture to Superior, who shows it to the audience – it features a Santa with a bunch of knives in him, and a reindeer with his head chopped off. All things being equal, expressing his own trauma through art is probably not a bad thing for Billy.

Superior disagrees, and sends Billy to his room. Then Superior and the teacher debate for a while on how to handle Billy. Superior decides to deal with him personally. Since this movie didn’t debut on The Hallmark Channel, I doubt this is going to go well. At all.

Later, the teacher decides to go against Superior’s wishes, and she tells Billy to come outside and play. Billy agrees, after being somewhat reluctant. He puts on his hat and coat, and goes into the hallway, where he hears… uh… grunting noises. I think you see where this headed.

(Also, as aside: The teacher told Billy to come out and help build a snowman. A snowman that was, one shot ago, already completed. Perhaps she just wanted to taunt Billy with all the fun they had while he was inside?)

Anyway, Billy seeks out the source of the grunting. He peeks through a keyhole, and some dude and some girl we’ve never seen are having some… uh… adult time.

Billy starts to flash back to what happened to his mom.

Moments later, Superior shows up, throws Billy out of the way of the door, throws the door open, grabs the dude’s belt off his own pants and begins beating the two teenagers too stupid to realize that if you’re going to do that in a house run by nuns, you REALLY need to keep quiet.

Outside, Billy helps a couple of kids fill a bucket with snow, when out comes Superior, still toting the belt. Which is hilarious.

Superior asks to talk to Billy, and asks him if he understood what the people upstairs were doing. He says he didn’t understand it. Superior says that’s good, because, “What they were doing was something very, very naughty.”

She goes on to note that, “When you do something naughty, we are always caught. And then we are punished.” She goes on about punishment for a while.

Then she tells Billy he’s naughty for leaving his room. So one scene later, she gives the kid the belt and sends him to bed.

Later that night, Billy has horrible nightmares, which allows the producers to reuse the killer Santa footage from earlier in the film. He wakes up and runs screaming from his bed.

Superior catches him in the hallway, and ties him to the bed. None of the kids who share his room untie him.

The next morning, all the kids in the orphanage are playing with their Christmas gifts. Superior wanders through and says, “I see nothing but greed where there should be gratitude.”


Billy comes down the stairs with his teacher-nun, and Superior asks Billy if he’s ready to behave properly. He says yes. She tells him to go find his present.

Superior and Teacher-Nun (who finally got a name – Sister Margaret) confer. Superior is proud of her discipline methods, and thinks Billy is ready for the final test – sitting on Santa Claus’s lap.

At this point, Mother Superior could eat a baby, and she would not appear to be any more evil than she already is.

Later that day, Superior drags Billy from another room, and forces him to sit on Santa’s lap, stating that he will say thank you to Santa. Billy hops off Santa’s lap and punches him right in the face.

Santa sits up, blood flowing from his nose, and asks what’s wrong with Billy.

Billy runs to another room, and sits in a corner, pleading that he didn’t mean to be naughty.

From off-screen, Mother Superior says, “Williaaam,” and Billy looks up in terror, and… freeze frame.

And… burn-in: “Spring, 1984. Ten Years Later.”

Because really, we’re watching a third-rate horror movie. Clearly basic math eludes us.

Incidentally, anyone want to tell me what happened to Billy’s baby brother? Did he freeze to death, or what?

Right. So. 1984. Sister Margaret is in a little shop-store place. The kind that vanished when Wal-Mart went national. She’s begging the shopkeeper to give Billy a job, but the shopkeeper says he only has one opening, and it’s not for a boy, it’s for a man.

(I’m going to take a pause here, and let you work out the obvious joke. Okay? Okay.)

Sister Margaret is obviously supposed to have aged ten years, but I guess they couldn’t afford the makeup for it, so they just drew some lines on her head with eyebrow pencil, and blended them pretty poorly.

At any rate, she decides to introduce Billy to the shopkeeper, even if the shopkeeper doesn’t have an opening, and the shopkeeper turns around. Everyone ready for the big reveal? Billy is RIPPED. I don’t know if he lifts weights to push naughty thoughts away, or what, but the guy got buff.

The shopkeeper gives him the job.

And then? Then? I swear to you, we get a musical montage of Billy working hard, while a super-happy song plays: “The Warm Side of the Door.”

In the midst of all the time passage, Christmas comes, and with it, a Christmas banner with a picture of Santa on it. Billy looks at it, and it appears like he’s going to poo in his pants and throw up at the same time.

Finally, the montage ends. Billy looks at a lovely lassy who works at the store, then goes into the stockroom, where he’s confronted by some dude who doesn’t even get a name. I guess he runs the stockroom, since he was sitting at the stockroom desk during his scenes in the montage.

I shall call him Stockboy.

Anyway, Stockboy hassles Billy because he wants to know why Billy is always staring off into space lately. I guess this is where horror movies differ from dramas, because in a drama, Billy would hint at a difficult past, then later overcome it while crying.

Instead, I’m guessing he’s going to kill this dude a lot, later in the movie.

And speaking of later in the movie, Billy leaves the stock room and goes out into the store. A Santa is there, which leads to yet another flashback to “That Night.”

Billy freaks out and backs away, running into a shelf and falling over. The cute girl he was looking at before comes over and asks if Billy is all right. He says sure.

He goes back to the stockroom, where he has a surprisingly long daydream about him and the cute girl being… uh… naughty. It culminates in Santa’s hand coming out of nowhere with a knife and stabbing him in the back.

Billy wakes up in his own bed, shouting, “No! No! No! I want to be good.” He flashes back to the time he hid in a corner after punching Santa.

I think if you took all the flashbacks and dream sequences out of this movie, it would be about twenty minutes shorter.

The next day, the shopkeeper announces that it’s Christmas Eve, and he can’t wait for Christmas to be over.

But no, here comes some lady we’ve never seen before, stating that there’s a teeny problem. The store Santa broke his ankle. Looks like shopkeeper-man will have to play Santa.

In the back, Stockboy tells Billy that if Billy ever vanishes again, he’s going straight to the shopkeeper. And here comes the shopkeeper, who asks how Billy is doing, and then sets the rest of the plot in motion.

Guess who gets to be Santa? Here’s a hint: It’s the guy who has so far learned that both Santa and the touch of a lady lead to pain at best, and death at worst.

Aw, followed by yeah. Billy is suiting up.

Moments later, Billy is in the Santa suit, and the shopkeeper is telling Billy not to scare the kids. This is going to get bad real fast.

Out in the store, Billy contends with a squirming girl. Finally, he tells her, “I don’t bring toys to naughty children.” He goes on. “That’s right. Stop it. Or I’ll have to punish you.”

Honestly, now, who doesn’t want to see a mall Santa go nuts on a bothersome kid?

The kid calms down. Because she knows what’s good for her. When her encounter with Santa is over, she runs to her mom.

In the stockroom, Stockboy, who finally gives us a name (Andy) gets a phone call. He tells the person on the other end of the line that Billy doesn’t work there any more – he’s playing Santa Claus.

On the other end of the line, Margaret, who really does have a terrible makeup job, hangs up the phone. She knows trouble is a-brewing.

Later that evening, the shopkeeper locks up the store. It’s seven o’clock, and time to get drunk. Really. That’s the plan.

Everyone who works in the shop starts drinking, including Billy, who for some reason doesn’t shed the Santa suit the very moment his shift is over. The shopkeeper says, “Stick with me kid, and pretty soon, you’ll think you are Santa Claus.” Then he proceeds to get Billy liquored up.

(Man, the screenwriter is some kind of dark genius, huh?)

The cute girl smiles at Billy. Her fate is sealed.

Oh hey, we finally got the see the outside sign. This is a toy store. Called Ira’s toys.

Moments later, the cute girl sneaks off with Andy.

And even later, the shopkeeper finds Billy, who’s kind of drunk, and asks him what he’s thinking about. Billy says his parents. Awkward.

The shopkeeper, after realizing what Billy is talking about, barrels ahead anyway. “You remember what Santa Claus does on Christmas Eve, don’t ya?”

Billy does, in fact, remember.

The shopkeeper babbles some more, concluding with, “Go get ‘em!”

Down the aisle, Andy convinces the cute girl to go into the stockroom with him. Which Billy sees.

Inside the stockroom, Andy tells Tammy (hey, she finally has a name!) that he’s got something for her. That he’s wanted to give her for a long time.

The entendre is thick in the air.

Back in the store, the shopkeeper and that other lady is sing one of the many Christmas songs that I’ve never heard in my life. Seriously, did they invite the songwriter over to teach it to them just for this scene? That seems like a lot of work.

As they continue singing, Billy wanders into the stockroom. Tammy is telling Andy to, “Stop it.”

Andy is putting the moves on Tammy. In a not-nice way. Tammy slaps him. Andy tears her shirt open. Billy has a flashback to his mom.

And dad. Well, most of whole Santa killing his family thing. As I said, they reuse a lot of footage in this movie.

Here it is, folks. The moment Billy snaps. And yells, “Naughty!” And chokes Andy to death with a string of Christmas lights.

While Tammy looks on. That isn’t really the kind of thing that helps you get the girl.

Tammy yells that Billy is crazy. Then she slaps him. Tammy makes a lot of poor decisions.

Billy grabs something sharp from a nearby shelf and cuts Tammy’s tummy. Tammy dies.

The shopkeeper, who heard a noise, goes to the stockroom to investigate. He’s really drunk. The clock behind him says it’s almost seven. Which means no one was paying attention to continuity, or he’s been drinking 12 hours straight.

Billy comes around the corner, and kills the shopkeeper with a hammer.

Out in the store, that other lady who is standing around to increase the body count, wanders drunkenly to the back of the store and into the stockroom, where she sees the shopkeeper with the “claw” portion of the claw hammer buried in his head.

She runs for the front door, but finds it locked. So she runs to the phone, and dials. Too late. Billy takes an axe off the wall and cuts the phone cord. The lady runs.

Stalking occurs. While Billy recites the opening lines to “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Billy prepares to axe the lady in the head, only she pushes a bunch of boxes on him and runs, taking the axe with her. She runs to the front door, and gets ready to smash the glass. Billy takes a bow and arrow (from a toy shop, remember?) and shoots her through the back.

She dies.

Billy takes the axe, and unlocks the door… and heads out.

Moments later, Margaret shows up, and sees the dead bodies.

Elsewhere, carolers sing yet another not-classic Christmas song.

Inside a nearby house, and teenage boy and girl are… oh come on. You know. On a pool table.

A little girl calls from upstairs that she wants to see Santa Claus. The teenage girl convinces her she needs to go back to bed right now, because Santa doesn’t visit naughty children, and the little girl is being very naughty right now.

Oh, the jokes I won’t bother to make.

The little girl goes back to bed.

The teenage boy and girl go back to what they were doing. Moments later, the girl says she has to go upstairs, because she heard the cat, and the cat needs to come in. I thought it was a metaphor at first, but no, it appears there really is a cat.

So the girl puts on her shorts(!) (seriously, there’s snow all over the ground outside!) and heads upstairs to deal with the cat.

The boy says, “I’m gonna kill her.”

Seriously. Screenwriter. Dark genius.

The girl goes to the front door, opens it wide, and calls to the cat. Did I mention all she’s wearing is shorts? I hope the girl got stunt pay.

The cat finally shows up. Then Billy shows up.

The girl slams the door. Billy breaks through it with the axe. The girl runs, then turns around to see where Billy is. He throws the axe and misses, then runs after the girl and tackles her.

There is tussling.

Finally, Billy spots a deer head on the wall. So he lifts the girl up and pushes the horns through her. Bodily. And the deer head doesn’t fall off the wall, so she’s just hanging there.

Downstairs, the boy is playing pool. Having heard, you know, none of the extensive screaming and tussling. He puts on his shirt, and heads upstairs.

He finds the destroyed door. And keeps calling to the girl. Who finally gets a name: Denise. Too late.

Finally, he locates her, right after saying, “If this is some kind of joke, I’m going to kill her.”

Billy jumps him, and they battle. The boy gets ahold of a fire poker, and clocks Billy with it. Then he goes for the phone. Billy stands up, pulls the phone cord out of the wall, and chokes the boy with it.

Then he beats the boy for a while. And, finally, throws Billy the guy out the second-story window.

As Billy heads towards the door, the little girl spots him, and calls out, “Santa Claus.”

Billy asks, “Have you been good? Or have you been naughty?”

She says she’s been good. Billy asks if she’s sure. While pulling a knife out of his belt.

She nods yes, so Billy gives her the knife. Which is all covered in blood.

Do I smell a sequel? Man, I hope so!

Billy walks out the door while the little girl calls out to her babysitter.

Elsewhere, two cops are on the hunt for, “Santa Claus.” They’re joking about it, until they see a dude climbing through a window dressed as Santa.

They race into the house, and up the stairs… but it’s just some little girl’s dad, dressed up as Santa for the holidays. Tee-hee.

Out on a deserted stretch of road, Billy hides in a ditch while some cops drive by with their sirens on.

Somewhere in the woods, two boys prepare to sled. One of them gets paranoid and says he thinks someone is watching them.

Suddenly, two more dudes pop out of the woods. Tension is in the air.

The new dudes beat up the sledding dudes, and steal their sleds. Seriously, now, the movie is just wasting time.

One dude sleds. Then calls down to the other dude to sled.

Are we, like, building tension here? Is that the plan? Because I have no attachment to these people.

As dude number two comes down the slope, Billy jumps out of the woods, yells out, “Naughty!” and cuts off the second dude’s head.

Dude number one stands around and screams. For some reason, Billy does not race down the slope and attack him.

And now, it’s morning. Margaret is sleeping on a bench at the police station. She asks some guy, who I guess is a cop, if there’s any news. He tells her it’s all bad.

Three more murders. Huh. Billy really didn’t kill that other kid. That makes no sense.

The cop says Billy is nuts, but not stupid, and that they should be able to predict his next move. Margaret freaks out, because she thinks what Billy is doing is following some kind of logic.

Anyone want to hazard a guess where Billy is going? Could it be: The Orphanage? It is!

Though I have no idea why Margaret thought Billy’s killing had a “logic” to it. So far, he’s killed a bunch of people in a toy shop, two random kids from a random house, and one bully, but not another.

If anyone wants to guess what the logic is in that, be my guest.

At the orphanage, Superior, in bad old age makeup, tells everyone they need to write a thank you letter to Santa, even though all the kids there are WAY too old to believe in him, and also, seriously? Santa? An at orphanage run by nuns? Can someone please, please explain that one to me?

In the office, a little girl is playing with the phone, because her doll is “making a call.” She sets the phone down, but doesn’t hang it up, which means that Margaret can’t call the orphanage to tell them what’s going on.

Margaret and the cop tell all the cops to head to the orphanage, then head to the orphanage themselves.

All officers are told to shoot to kill, if necessary.

Outside, here comes “Santa,” across the near-complete lack of snow. And lots of green grass.

One of the kids looks up, then more. Yay, Santa!

A cop zips up to the orphanage, and spots “Santa.” He freaks out, draws a gun, and puts a few shots in Santa’s back.

Santa falls to the ground. Dead.

A nun comes out, and tells everyone to go back inside. One of them doesn’t move. The nun calls out: “Ricky! Come away from there!”

Everyone remember who Ricky is? At all? Of course not. Ricky is the name of Billy’s brother, who’s been MIA since we last saw him all crying and being a baby, in every sense of the word.

The cop approaches the dead Santa who, naturally, isn’t Billy, or the movie would already be over.

Apparently some guy named Father O’Brian got cacked. Because he didn’t answer the cop who told him to stop. Because he was deaf. That must make finding out what kids want for Christmas a real bear.

An ambulance takes Father O’Brian away, and the cop tells Superior that he’s there to help. She counters that all the cop has done is harm.

(Did I mention this is NOT the cop driving around with Margaret? He’s not. Sorry for the confusion, but none of these people have names.)

(The cop driving with Margaret is still on his way. With Margaret.)

The non-Margaret cop goes outside to look around for Billy.

Inside, Superior decides to take everyone’s mind off the fact that they just saw a man killed in cold blood by having them sing Christmas songs. She has Ricky get her pitch pipe, and goes out of her way to be all, “He’s a good kid, not like his brother,” so the audience can maybe make the connection I made for you earlier. You’re welcome, by the way.

The opt to sing “Deck the Halls.” No way! An actual Christmas song? They couldn’t sing “On the Warm Side of the Door?”

Come to think of it, why is Ricky so happy? He JUST saw a guy take three bullets to the torso area.

Outside, the Santa-killing cop slinks around the outside of the building, looking for the person he was actually supposed to kill.

He spots a shed outside, the creepy music comes up, and Our Hero the Cop walks over to ye olde shed. Suddenly, the door springs open. It isn’t a shed at all. It’s like a little shack, with a massive basement-type thing under it. I have no idea what it could be used for. I suppose it’s a good place to store preserves. Or dead bodies.

The cop wanders around for a bit down there, and finds nothing. He unzips his coat, and heads back up the stairs to the outside. He steps to the door, Billy yells out, “Punish!” and buries the axe in the cop’s belly.

Inside, the kids are now singing another actual Christmas song. Crazy.

Outside, Billy cuts the head off the snowman with his axe. Because he’s evil now, you see. I mean, who else would do a thing like that?

Billy walks up to the front door of the orphanage, and one of the kids springs up to let “Santa” in. Superior tries to stop him, but she’s in a wheelchair now, which makes it hard for her to go springing after the kid.

The kid lets Billy in, and all the kids are like, “Yay! Santa!”

Superior has no idea what to do. She tells the kids to come to her, and then says, “There is no Santa Claus. There is no Santa Claus!” Supes should have tried that, like, a decade ago. She might have prevented her upcoming axe to the face.

Billy says, “Naughty,” a couple of times, the axe comes up, and there’s the sound of gunfire. The other cop, the one with Margaret, shoots Billy in the back.

Billy dies, grabbing at Superior as he falls.

Margaret stands over Billy as he dies. The kids are all well and truly freaked out. Since they already saw Santa shot once, it’s probably not because of that. Maybe it’s because they just learned Santa isn’t real?

Billy’s final words as he croaks are, “You’re safe now. Santa Claus is gone.”

On the soundtrack, the composer is playing one of those old, out-of-tune pianos you always hear in old silent movies. Interesting choice, there, composer-man.

Billy dies. Margaret looks sad. Margaret is also wearing a wedding band. Not your best work, continuity-person.

The camera pans up from Billy to Ricky. And Ricky says, “Naughty.” And the soundtrack goes nuts. In case you didn’t get that this was like a final sting.

And hey! Credits! And we get to hear one of those Christmas songs that no one has ever heard before, and will never hear again.

Is it wrong that I really want to own the soundtrack now?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Diary of the Dead

The thing to keep in mind as this movie begins is that it is not a sequel to “Night of the Living Dead.” Depending on how you look at it, this is a reboot of the franchise. Or, like, a side-quel, which starts at the same time “Night” does – which is to say, in the opening moments of the zombie apocalypse.

Of course, to pretend they happen at the same time, you have to assume everyone in the original “Night” just kind of forgot their cell phone. And that the farmer didn’t have cable. And that they just had one really small TV.

Honestly, though, I can’t say that anything that happens in “Diary” contradicts what happens in “Night.” So, there you go.

“Diary of the Dead” exists in sort of a strange limbo of filmmaking. It’s meant to be a documentary of sorts, detailing the zombie uprising, and as such we get voiceover, and camera twitches, and various other things.

For example, the opening footage has some narration over it. It’s touted as footage that a news cameraman uploaded. He was the one that shot the footage.

The actual footage shown shows some cops, and an ambulance, outside a dwelling. Inside, a dad murdered his wife and sixteen-year-old son, and then put the gun in his own mouth and pulled the trigger.

A newswoman starts stating these facts, while the corpses are rolled towards the ambulance in the background.

But then the cameraman interrupts the newslady, in order to film what’s going on. To wit, the dead woman sits up and bites one of the ambulance workers. And then, the sixteen-year-old also gets up, and one of the cops shoots him in the head.

There’s some more action, but it’s not all that important. Because now we’re into the narration, which says that the narrator (who’s a female, by the by) and her companions (who we haven’t seen yet) have been downloading video from various online sources, and also took their own film they’ve been shooting, and they cut it all together to make the documentary we’re about to see:

“The Death of Death.”

That’s a pretty amusing in-joke right there. If you’re not aware, Romero has used that title in at least two places. Once when he started writing a zombie novel in sections, and selling it on the Internet. And he also made a comic book with that title.

And now, the film-within-a-film presents “The Death of Death.” Which our narrator notes sometimes has music, in order to scare us.

Now we’re into the footage that the narrator and pals shot, along with a burn-in that says October 24th, 11:00 PM.

We’re in the woods somewhere, and a woman in a white dress is running. She stops for a second, looks behind her, and a mummy steps out of the woods.

The woman screams, then stumbles, and the mummy catches her, and someone yells, “Cut.” I guess we have to assume this is the director.

The director complains that the “mummy,” who’s obviously a student actor, that corpses can’t walk fast. The “mummy” retorts that is the girl is going fast, he has to go fast.

The director, whose name is Jason, says that if the mummy catches the girl, the movie is over.

And then… then it’s just a whole discussion about this being a student film, and about getting credits for college, and about how the drunken professor promises that everyone will get five credits for making the film.

And then some random dude standing off in the woods says that “there’s something on the news” they should all hear.

So we cut, and go over to where everyone is listening to the news, and we learn that five, no wait, six corpses have gotten up and attacked people.

The mummy says he’s not waiting around to find out if this is a hoax or not – he’s headed back to his place. Another dude says that the mummy’s place is huge. That guy is named Eliot. I think he was the guy who said everyone needed to listen to the news.

There’s also a makeup artist named Tony. Just so you can have a name to cling to. Cling hard. I’m still not sure who two thirds of these people are.

The mummy says everyone is free to join him. One blonde chick who has no name as of yet opts to go with him.

The crew packs up and heads to the dorm, because “Deb” is there. Whoever that is.

And now we’re in a long point-of-view shot in the women’s dorm. I think Jason is still holding the camera, but I have no idea.

There’s no one there, except for one dude who’s stealing a small TV. Which he’s completely honest about.

Jason goes to Deb’s room. Deb is there, and she’s upset because she keeps calling home and no one is answering.

Ah – Deb is our narrator. Thanks subtitles.

And now we’re in a Winnebago. Mary’s Winnebago. No clue who Mary is. And they’re driving along to somewhere-or-other.

Ah. Mary is the driver. That clears THAT up.

Okay, now they do a run-down of all the names. Is it worth mentioning they’re all in the University of Pittsburgh? And that they’re all trying to get home? Sure. So there you go. That’s the plan.

So, yeah, names and identifying characteristic. Trust me, there’s not much to hang onto.

Mary: Owns the Winnebago we’re all in. Brunette.

Deb: Narrator. Brunette.

Tony: Makeup artist. Really short hair.

Eliot: Wears geeky glasses.

Gordo: With Tracy. Longer hair.

Tracy: Blonde. Actress.

Professor: He’s the professor. And he’s drunk all the time.

Some dude goes driving by at about 120 miles an hour.

And then they stop the Winnebago, because there’s a crashed and flaming car in the road. Actually, there are two crashed and flaming cars, and Mary doesn’t think she’ll be able to get by them.

The group sees a state trooper, and it takes them a minute to realize that he’s walking kind of funny. And it takes them until he gets to the window and tries to grab Mary to realize he’s the walking dead.

Mary freaks out, people swear, and Mary hits reverse and drives away from the state trooper.

Then she goes forward again, plowing into the state trooper and various other dead people as she drives along.

Some time passes, and it’s 3 AM. Mary freaks out about the fact that she hit three people, and might have killed them, because she’s not quite on board with the whole dead-returning-to-life thing.

The crew gets out of the Winnebago, all of them watching Mary, who is sitting out in the middle of a field not doing much of anything. At least until she shoots herself in the head.

Everyone gets all freaked out by this, wondering if anyone even knew she had a gun.

I guess it’s worth mentioning that Tony is also not on board with the walking dead thing. He thinks the news is right – that nothing is really happening, and that everything will calm down soon.

And then Deb says, “She’s still alive.”

So the gang goes to a hospital, which is empty. They’re carrying Mary, and trying to find a doctor. Or the ER. Or probably anyone who knows what to do with a woman who shot herself in the head unsuccessfully.

Some of them find a police radio, which they listen to for a while. They hear people panicking, and gunfire, and it finally starts to sink in that, hey, there are dead people out there walking around and biting people.

The crew wanders around the hospital some more, searching for anyone who can and/or will help them.

Finally, they spot a person moving behind a curtain, and call to him.

Only him’s dead. And him’s also just finished eating someone, so he’s all covered in people juices.

Someone yells to use the gun.

Gordo has the gun. He shoots the zombie a few times, and then someone tells him to shoot the zombie in the head. He does. It’s effective.

A former nurse gets up. She’s a zombie, too. Gordo tries to shoot her, but the gun is jammed. He tries to fix it.

Meanwhile, Deb finds a pair of those electro-shock panels, fires them up, and sticks them on both sides of the zombie nurse’s head. The nurse burns, and her eyes melt and pop out of her head. She falls.

Then she gets back up again, and Gordo shoots her in the head.

Mary makes a groaning noise, and the group once again decides they should try to find her a doctor. A live one.

In the corner, the battery light keeps showing in the corner. Which is the kind of thing that would never show up on actual camera footage. But let’s move on.

Jason says he needs to plug in and recharge, and the rest of the group says that he should leave the camera. Jason refuses, noting that the camera “is the whole thing.”

So the rest of the group leaves. Jason stays, and plugs in. And as he pans around, talking to himself, and looking at the dead people on the floor, he points the camera at Mary.

This means the rest of the group went to get help for Mary, who is currently sitting in a wheelchair, as far away from the rest of the group as possible. This is not a well thought out plan.

Jason apologizes to Mary, stating that he’s sorry if anything he or Tony said caused her to shoot herself in the head.

At that moment, Mary wakes up.

Elsewhere, there are screams and gunfire.

Jason calls out.

He looks out the door, and in the hallway… is Deb. Who found another camera. So Deb turns her camera on, and Jason has his camera on, and they go back and forth, cutting between their footage, as Deb tries to explain to Jason what it’s like to have a camera shoved in your face while people are dying around you.

Jason finally gets Deb to tell him that she was attacked, and that Gordo shot the dead guy in the head.

Deb screams to demonstrate how she screamed in the other room, then screams for real, as one of the nearby “dead” patients gets up.

Gordo appears and shoots the guy in the head, then notes that he’s shot three men and a woman in the last half-hour.

The professor points out how easily it came to Gordo. And then goes on. “I remember the war. In wartime, killing comes easily.”

Did I mention the professor sounds British? I really want to know which war he’s talking about.

Mary dies. Then starts becoming undead, which involves a lot of wheezing, and maybe her eyeballs rolling back in her head, or maybe she develops a film over her eyes. I have no idea.

Gordo isn’t mentally capable of shooting her, so the professor gently takes the gun from Gordo and shoots Mary in the noggin.

Then the professor gives the gun to Tony, noting that it’s “too easy to use.”

The gang walks out into the hallway, where they’re confronted by some more dead patients.

One of them has an I.V. pole attached to him. So Eliot grabs it, and stabs the zombie through the chest with his own I.V. pole. While he does this, he loudly points out that clearly the zombie is dead, since Eliot can just keep ramming an I.V. pole through the guy’s chest with no effect.

Oh, and did I mention that Gordo got bit in all this? He did. He says that, “It hurts.”

Eliot knocks the zombie over and jams the I.V. pole through its head.

Deb realizes that she’s still holding a video camera, and she hands it off to the Professor with a, “Take this, it’s too easy to use.”

And now, a bunch of stock footage, with statements about how everyone with a video camera or a blog is talking about what’s going on.

The next morning, they bury Mary. Gordo is dead. Then he comes back, and Tracy shoots him right in the noggin.

Deb wants to get on the road, like, right now, so she can get to her family.

And then, more stock footage, coupled with narration about how they managed to avoid the crowds and looting by staying on country roads.

But now the bad news – the Winnebago has died. Tracy thinks she can fix it, which is supposed to be funny, I suppose.

At any rate, they plan on pushing the Winnie into a nearby barn and repairing it, when an Amish guy comes towards them, grunting. But he’s not a zombie – he’s just deaf. He tells them this using a little slate he carries around.

They inform him they want to use his barn to fix the Winnie, and he writes for them to hurry – then points behind them, where a small group of zombies has gathered and is coming towards them.

The Amish fellow runs back into the barn, grabs a stick of dynamite, and heaves it at the zombies, who blow up real good.

The Amish guy writes that his name is Samuel.

Later, Tracy fixes the Winnie.

Meanwhile, Eliot plays the footage from the video camera they found in the hospital. It’s a little girl’s birthday party. A clown arrives. The girl freaks a little bit. The father grabs the clown’s nose, and yells, “Honk, honk!” And then, the zombie clown bites him in the neck.

Putting George Romero at three for three zombie clowns in the last three “Dead” movies.

Suddenly, there’s pounding on the barn walls. The zombies have arrived.

Samuel tells everyone there’s a back door. They head down to the bottom of the barn… and discover that the back door is open.

Samuel slams it shut, then grabs a scythe.

Tony shoots a zombie in the head. Then another one.

Upstairs, Tracy almost has the Winnie fixed. Suddenly, a zombie grabs her arm. Samuel slams his scythe through the zombie and drags it out from under the vehicle, and Tony shoots it in the head.

Deb gets into the Winnie, and fires it up.

Samuel and Tony open the barn doors.

Everyone starts getting into the Winnie, only Samuel gets grabbed by a zombie. And bitten. Samuel, knowing that his time is short, jams the blade of his scythe through his own head, and subsequently, the zombie’s head.

Never make fun of the Amish, folks. They will MESS YOU UP.

Deb pulls out, ramming zombies along the way.

And then… more random footage, and narration.

The gang stops for supplies, and they’re trying to figure out how to gas up the Winnie and get food, when a random black guy with an M-16 comes out and tells Tony to drop his gun.

Tony does, and a couple more fellows of color come out, both heavily armed.

There’s gunfire nearby, and everyone gets into the Winnie to go… wherever the black dudes tell them to go.

The gang is taken to a large warehouse, where all the people of color in the town are holed up with a lot of supplies. They tell Deb they can have some gas to get where they’re going.

Jason asks if he can get online, and he’s told to go ahead. He uploads his footage to… ready?… MySpace. Where he gets 72,000 hits in eight minutes.

Deb shows up, asking what’s going on, and Deb and Jason argue about whether or not the footage is important. Deb states, once again, that she wants to get back to her family, and Jason tells Deb that the media and/or the government is covering up what’s happening, and making it sound like everyone is going to be fine.

Jason has the most amazing laptop ever. He has yet to run out of power, and he’s cutting together a movie at lightning speed, and getting it uploaded, and… I don’t even know. Let’s just go with, “He seems to be working implausibly fast,” and leave it at that.

Deb brings the argument to a close, and gets ready to walk off, when her cell phone vibrates. It’s a message from her little brother – her family was camping, and now they’re heading home.

It was sent the night before.

Deb figures this means her family is going to beat her home, but I’m thinking it’s more likely they’ll get eaten while driving along the road. So going home is probably futile at this point. Perhaps they should throw in with the local militia? They seem to have a good thing going…

Deb goes to get some gas for the Winnie.

Jason’s computer buzzes, and some dude comes up on webcam. Ridley. He’s the guy who went, “Oh, hey, there are reports of zombie attacks. I’m going back to my house/fortress.” The other chick is there with him.

Ridley says he’s having a great time.

In the warehouse, Deb talks to Tony – something is going on.

One of the militia fills us in – one of the “soldiers” had a bad heart, and died. Only no one knows where he went.

And we’re back with Jason, who wanders through the warehouse, camera on. I think we see where this is going.

He sees something, starts to panic, then realizes he’s looking at himself in a mirror.

Tony appears suddenly, and tells Jason there’s a dead guy walking around, and they need to go.

Back at the Winnie, they check the vehicle for zombies. Nope, none there.

The head militia guy tells everyone to freeze and shut up.

Jason and Tony find the rest of the group, just as the militia spots the dead guy. They shoot him in the head.

Whoops – that wasn’t the dead guy.

The dead guy grabs Tony, who moves out of the dead guy’s grasp, and starts backing up.

One person yells out to shoot the dead guy, only the dead guy is standing near gas. So Tony grabs a jar of acid and shatters it on the dead guy’s head.

Over the course of a minute, the acid eats into the dead guy’s head, and then his brain, and then the dead guy dies.

A woman pumps some gas into the Winnie. The Head Guy tells her to stop, as they aren’t going very far. He also tells Deb that they aren’t getting any supplies – no guns, no food.

Deb says they won’t leave until they get some. Otherwise, Head Guy will have to kill them.

Head Guy gives them more gas, and food, and guns. What a pushover.

Everyone loads up. The professor decides he doesn’t want a gun, and takes a bow and arrows instead, noting that they seem “friendlier” than the guns.

Dude. When dealing with zombies, the word “friendly” should not apply.

As they’re leaving, Head Guy tells Debbie that he thinks Debbie is a lot like him.

As they drive, Tracy uses her cell phone to pull up a video from Tokyo on YouTube. A nice lady notes, “Don’t bury dead. First shoot in head.”

Then Tracy’s cell phone signal gives out. Eliot turns on the TV, and there’s no signal there either.

The end is nigh, folks. Or nigh-er, anyway.

And now, more stock-looking footage, and statements about how the mainstream was gone. You know, in case you missed it.

Back with the gang, hey, they finally made it to Deb’s house!

Deb says she’s going to go in the house, even though her family isn’t there. She tells everyone else to head out.

They opt, instead, to come in with her.

Deb opens the front door with the key, and then says she can’t remember the code for the house alarm. It’s either 102 or 201.

I’m sorry, I thought she lived here? Were her parents in the habit of installing alarm systems while she was away at school, or is she just kind of stupid?

Probably the latter.

Regardless, she punches in the wrong code, and the alarm goes off.

Eliot figures he can shut it off if he goes to the breaker box. Deb tells him it’s in the garage.

Deb goes through the house to the garage, opens the door, and sees that her family’s stuff is in the garage – they are, or were, home.

Deb starts calling for her parents, and then Tony notices something, which he points out to Deb – the passenger-side window has a hole smashed in it.

Did I mention the professor is wandering around this whole time carrying his bow and arrows? Because he totally is. I’m sure this will be important soon.

Deb tries to calmly figure out what the hole in the passenger-side window would mean. She determines that, you know, that’s her mom’s blood on the passenger-side window.

Tony figures out that Deb is about a second away from freaking right out, and he plays some bizarre psychological game with Deb, where they’re going into the house, but they’re NOT looking for her parents. They’re looking for her old doll. Whose name is Michael, Deb says. Like the archangel.

They go into the house, and Deb does some narration about how she debated whether to leave this part in the film. Oookay.

Deb wanders through the house, and her zombie brother, who looks to be in his early teens, jumps on her back and tries to eat her. The professor shoots an arrow through the brother’s head, which pins the zombie brother to the wall.

I guess he hit a stud. Or they have exceptionally strong drywall holding him up.

Deb runs out of the house. Then she runs back into the house, and finds her mom. Who is eating her dad. In, like, a zombie way.

Mom starts walking towards Deb, and the professor shoots mom through the head with an arrow.

Then he notes they should leave. This is because he’s got a doctorate, so he’s all smart.

Deb does some more narrating. It’s kind of dull. Let’s skip it.

In the Winnie, Jason sets the camera down for almost a full minute to comfort Deb. Then he gives up.

Deb asks the professor where he learned to shoot a bow and arrow. He replies, “Eaton. Archery squad. Targets, of course.”

I guess that’s a good thing. Better than it being a “The Most Dangerous Game” situation.

There’s some more banter and character-building stuff which, quite frankly, isn’t interesting enough to document. And then – headlights!

It’s the National Guard. Eliot pulls over, a member of the National Guard steps in, and asks them where they got all their stuff. They say they got it from friends.

The leader of the Guard says, “Can we be friends?”

Then he tells Jason to turn off the camera.

When the camera comes back on, the gang has been stripped of all their food, and the National Guard folks are driving away.

The “documentary” then cuts over to a group of people we’ve never seen before. Some kind of SWAT team kind of thing. They encounter some old people in what appears to be an apartment building. Then they go into an apartment, and one of them gets bitten.

They blow the zombie’s head off.

Then they kill two more zombies.

Then they get mad at the two old people, who were clearly hiding the living dead in their house. “They were family!” pleads the old man. Then they shoot him.

In the heart. So they can wake up dead. Oh, and they do the same to the old woman.

Then the dude who got bit in the neck blows his own head off.

This is followed by some commentary by Deb and Jason.

Moments later, Eliot pulls the Winnie up to Ridley’s place. The front fence is open, and the front door is unlocked.

This makes everyone nervous.

They go into the house anyway.

I guess the good news is, some of them are armed.

The better news is, there are security cameras everywhere, which gives an alternate source of black-and-white footage, instead of showing us just the stuff Jason is shooting.

They wander into the library, and the professor discovers the bookshelf, which has a bunch of first editions on it.

Suddenly, the bookshelf flies open – it’s a door to a panic room, and Ripley is behind it. Dressed in his mummy costume from the start of the film.

Yeah, that’s not creepy. At all.

They ask Ridley where his parents are, and he says out back. They ask why he left the door open, and he said it was an accident, and adds that he’s stupid.

Ridley has clearly lost his mind.

Ridley tells everyone to go do, like, whatever it is they want to do. Get some food. Drink some hooch. Take a bath.

Someone asks him why he was in the panic room, and he says that he was testing the generator.

Finally he asks where everyone’s stuff is, and they basically say they haven’t got any. Except bags of dirty clothes.

All right, let’s pause for a second.

Here are the problems with this movie:

1. There’s kind of no plot. The goals in the movie, so far, have been: Get to Deb’s house. Which led to her learning her parents were dead. So then they, 2. Go to this other house, where I’m sure we’re about to learn that everyone is dead.

As plots go, it’s sort of boring.

Added to that, we’re watching a film “made” by a bunch of student filmmakers, so they restate stuff we already know, narrate things that don’t need to be narrated, and in general, kill the suspense of going from scene to scene by intercutting news reports and the like.

If that’s what Romero was going for, it’s sort of brilliant. And the man can still put together creatively creepy stuff.

But somewhere between making “Night,” and making this movie, he went from telling a great story that happened to be layered with societal commentary, to telling a societal commentary that occasionally gives us a really interesting way to dispatch a zombie.

This whole, “All we have is dirty clothing,” line sort of lays out this problem for us. We don’t care. Dirty clothing doesn’t tell us about the characters, doesn’t really up the suspense, and doesn’t really crackle, as far as jokes go.

But whatever. Let’s wrap this up.

Jason tells Tony to take the camera. Tony, of course, resists taking the camera, because people arguing about whether or not shooting “this kind” of movie is pretty much the main focus of discussion, and it’s been nearly three minutes since someone got on Jason’s case for filming everything.

Tony follows Ridley around with the camera. Ridley babbles about his dad shooting a rabbit.

Deb enters the room, and asks where their blonde friend is, who had like three lines in the movie so far, so who really cares?

“She’s out back, with my family, and the staff,” says Ridley.

I’m going to guess they’re not out there playing a round of croquet.

Deb asks why they don’t just go see her, and Ridley says that’s a bad idea.

I know I mentioned this before, y’all, but Ridley is still wearing his mummy costume. Just keep that in mind.

Ridley explains that his dad was the first to die. Dad ate mom. Dad and mom ate the help. The help bit blondie on the face. So Ridley buried them all in the backyard.

Ridley then takes Deb and Tony to the backyard. Deb thinks this might be a bad idea, while Tony says he has to see. Way to, like, use your scruples and stuff, dude.

Ridley takes them to a big glassed-wall structure. He flips in the lights.

It’s the poolhouse. All the dead people are walking around on the bottom of the pool.

Ridley wanders off. Or runs off. I have no idea, as it happens off-camera.

Tony notes that Ridley had blood on his arm, and we get an insert shot of his arm, and sure enough, there’s blood.

Tony wonders if Ridley got bitten.

Cut to the security footage, with Ridley stumbling into the house and falling over, dead. And Eliot getting ready to take a bath. And Ridley’s undead self waking up and heading out to eat him some people.

Outside in the Winnie, Tracy throws bags on the ground, and asks Jason for help, only Jason says that he’s shooting.

And here comes Ridley, who Jason actually notes, out loud, is dead.

Ridley attacks Tracy, and Jason doesn’t do anything to help. I suppose we could argue that this is supposed to demonstrate the power of the video camera, and how it gets ahold of us, but really, all I can think is that I really hope Ridley eats Jason a lot.

Tracy calls to Jason for help, and Jason tells Tracy to run. Tracy runs. Ridley shambles after her.

Jason yells out, “See! I told you dead things move slow!” You know, from the start of the movie, when he was complaining that Ridley was walking too fast? Also, I’m sure this Romero commenting on the so-called fast zombie controversy.

Hey George, remember when your zombies were afraid of fire? No? You might want to look into that.

At any rate, Jason doesn’t lift a finger to help Tracy. Finally, he tries to “distract” Ridley by yelling, “Cut!”

Oh, it gets so much worse.

Tracy knocks Ridley over the head, which appears to re-kill him, and then she says: “Don’t mess with Texas.”

And The Yellow Rose of Texas plays on the soundtrack.

You know what? I take all my criticisms back. This is the greatest takedown of student films ever created.

As the song continues to play, Tracy gets back into the Winnie and drives away.

Deb peeks out the window and sees Tracy take off, and she and Tony debate the merits of hitting the road. Deb is all for the panic room option.

In the bathroom, Eliot blow-dries his hair until Ridley eats him.

Downstairs, Jason, Deb, and Tony do the whole, “Hey, where’s Eliot?” thing, and then the professor shows up with a gun and says he saw Ridley attack Eliot in the bathroom. He saw it on the monitors in the panic room.

The professor grabs a big old sword off the wall.

And the remaining three students argue about whether or not it’s better to survive the zombie apocalypse, or record it. Deb comes down on the survival side. Jason comes down on the recording side.

So Jason takes off, and goes to another room, where he encounters… Ridley.

Ridley bites Jason. As this happens, Deb and the professor and Tony show up. The professor puts a sword through Ridley’s head.

Jason asks Deb to kill him. So Deb shoots him in the head.

Then we cut to footage of the living Jason talking to the camera, about being given the gift of being able to document the events that have gone on.

And now we’re back in the house, with Tony and the professor calling to Deb, who’s sitting around and doing some smoking, and saying she’s going to finish Jason’s movie.

Then it’s the next day, and the professor does a whole thing about how he doesn’t like mornings and mirrors, and how they both terrify old men.


And then we get all the closed-circuit camera footage. Zombies are walking towards the house. Zombies are coming out of the pool. The Eliot zombie is coming out of the bathroom.

Deb tells the professor to close the door of the panic room. He does.

Deb cuts to some footage that Jason downloaded, of two dudes with guns who tied some dead people to trees and had target practice.

As the movie comes to a close, we see a dead woman hanging in the air, tied to a tree by her hair. One of the guys shoots her in the face, so her body drops away just below the mouth line, while the eyes keep looking around.

Deb says, “Are we worth saving? You tell me.”

Annnd… credits! Complete with chick-sung alterna-song.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

But the Third One Was Great: FAQ the First

Q: Why don’t you like horror movies?

A: I do like them. I like them a lot. I don’t think I could do this if I didn’t like them, unless there was a lot of money in it.

Q: Then why do you make fun of these movies?

A: I would argue that I don’t make fun of the movies – I’m just noting the logic flaws, missed continuity, bad storytelling choices, and questionable acting.

In a way, I view what I’m putting down here as a “What not to do” checklist. Follow it, and the next time you go to make a horror movie, you’ll avoid some of the pitfalls.

Alternately, when something goes right, I also love to revel in it.

Q: So what’s this FAQ for?

A: I’ve had a few questioned addressed to me directly, and a LOT of Google searches that have come up over and over again. So I thought I’d help my readers out.

Q: What happened to Judy at the end of “Sleepaway Camp?”

A: Judy got a hot curling iron in a place where no curling iron should go in a lady.

Q: Did that kill Judy?

A: Interesting question (you’re going to see that a lot), and the answer is, “Depends on who you ask.”

As far as the film is concerned, probably. But we never see Judy acting all deceased once she’s “dead,” and she’s never carted away in an ambulance, since the movie ends once we learn who the killer is.


After “Camp” 1, 2, and 3 came out, a fourth film was in the works. Parts of it were shot, but the money ran out and the film was never completed. The footage was released only in a special box set put out by Anchor Bay. The story goes that, at the end of the film, we would learn that Judy was the murderer – she was driven mad by her disfigurement by curling iron. Or something equally disturbing.

Of course, eventually, there WAS a fourth camp movie – which ignored 2, 3, and the unfinished 4 totally.

But wait! There’s more! A script also exists for a “fourth” camp movie that follows parts 2 and 3, and at some point there are plans to release a “Camp” movie that follows the storyline of “Return to Sleepaway Camp.”

So, to reiterate – Judy is probably dead, but any one of a number of “Sleepaway” projects could bring her back at any moment.

Q: Who’s the guy in the silver-toed boots/black hat in “Halloween 5?”

A: Depends on who you ask. (See, I told you that you’d see this answer a lot.)

According to the people who starred in “5,” the person had no name, and he entered the “Halloween” mythos with no definite plan of action for how he fit into the story of Michael Myers in the future.

Since part six was written by another person, we have to assume that we’ll never know the so-called “true” story of just who that guy really was.

Or, if you follow the story of part six, Silver Toes is Wynn, Loomis’ friend – the guy who ran the asylum Michael lived in for roughly 15 years.

Q: What’s the deal with the Cult of the Thorn in Halloween 5 and/or 6?

A: As far as part five goes, your guess is as good as anyone’s.

As far as part six goes, the cult wanted to control Michael, so that things could do back to the way they were in the old days, with evil, and child slaughter, and stuff. No, it doesn’t make even a tiny bit of sense.

Q: Is Loomis dead at the end of “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers?”

A: Depends who you ask. (Man, I love that answer.) Oh, and also which cut of the movie you watch.

Assuming we’re talking about the theatrical release, the answer is… uh… there’s no way to tell. Loomis goes back to find Michael, but in the end, we only see Michael’s mask, and we certainly don’t see Loomis being killed by Michael. Though we do get some screeming.

The writer of the movie, in interviews, has said that Loomis is dead. Of course, Loomis was also dead at the end of parts five and two, depending on who you ask. And “H20” ignores all the movies that aren’t part 1 and part 2 – and Loomis is dead for sure in “H20.”

But the mystery deepens, as hardcore fans of the “Halloween” series have also gotten their hands on a “Producer’s Cut” of “Curse,” in which Loomis lives. So there you go.

Q: Why are you so mean to Jennifer Tilly when talking about the “Child’s Play” movies?

A: I don’t have any problems with Tilly. I think she’s a good actress who looks a certain way, and sounds a certain way, and subsequently always ends up in certain kinds of roles.

Tilly, who I’m positive is not an idiot, is well aware of this, and has turned it into a lucrative career. To this I say, good for her.

My “complaint” with Tilly, if it has anything to do with her at all, is how she’s parodied in “Seed of Chucky.” “Seed” has a lot of problems – it’s barely a horror movie at all, for starters. It’s a camp take on dramas, and something of a satire of the Hollywood system. The problem is, it goes for every single painfully obvious joke, from Glen(da) wetting his/her pants, to the whole, tee-hee, Tilly is trying to get a job as the Virgin Mary by sleeping with the director gag.

It’s about as funny as a series of knock-knock jokes.

Q: Seriously, what’s the deal with the “Phantasm” movies? Those recaps made no sense at all.

A: By the creator’s own admission, he’s kind of making it up as he goes along.

In short: The Tall Man is a being from another dimension. He’s come to our world to take corpses, which he shrinks down so they can handle the gravity in his dimension. He also takes the brains out of the corpses, and uses them to operate those killer balls he’s got.

Michael is the first person to discover the evil Tall Man. His brother Jody is killed and captured by The Tall Man, and may or may not be working with him.

Reggie was Jody’s best friend, and he and Michael are on a cross-country journey to stop The Tall Man. Oh, and Reggie sells, or used to sell, ice cream, and carries his uniform with him throughout the whole series.

Over the course of four movies, The Tall Man wipes out various cities to add members to his dwarven army.

There are other details, but if you want to try to make sense of them, you’re on your own.

Q: Why didn’t/don’t you cover “Day of the Dead 2: Contagium”

A: Hoo boy.

Let’s talk about the “Dead” movies for a minute, shall we?

I’m pretty sure someone out there can prove me wrong, but I suspect that “Night of the Living Dead” might have more sequels, remakes, and spinoffs than any other film in history.

To date, the movie has been remade twice. “Dawn” and “Day” have also both been remade, but not, I repeat, NOT as sequels to the original “Night.” The second version of both “Dawn” and “Day” don’t acknowledge the original “Night,” and they also are NOT sequels to either of the “Night” remakes.

In fact, the new “Day” isn’t even a sequel to the new “Dawn.” It stands all by itself.

As for “Day of the Dead 2,” it’s billed as a sequel to “Day of the Dead.” But it isn’t one. It has nothing to do with the original. It has different zombie origins, a different backstory, and uses none of the characters found in “Day of the Dead.”

It’s just a rip-off title meant to make the filmmakers some more money.

But wait! That’s not the first time that happened. The original “Dawn” was re-titled as “Zombi” when the movie went overseas. And someone released a movie called “Zombi 2.” Only here in the states, it was just called “Zombi.”

And then? Oh, man. Then there were sequels to the “Zombi” movie as well – they got up to part five.

But wait! I’m not done yet! You know what happened? It turns out that John Russo, who co-wrote the original “Night,” felt like making his own set of sequels. So produced “Return of the Living Dead,” which is a more-or-less direct sequel to “Night.” That movie was also followed by four sequels that bear the “Return” moniker.

Even Romero got in on the action, bringing the “Dead” movies to a close with “Land,” then re-launching the series with “Diary of the Dead,” which takes place at the start of the zombie uprising. He followed this up with a movie that was originally called “Diary of the Dead 2,” though the name has since been changed.

All told, there are 20 movies that exist because of the original “Night.” That thing made more babies than 12 inches of snow in Wisconsin.

Q: Why haven’t you covered X series yet?

A: Two common answers: 1. I’m getting to it eventually, hold your horses. 2. It’s just way too hard to track down all the parts and pieces.

I mean, there are three “The Stepfather” movies. How many of them are on DVD? One. And there are also a ton of “The Howling” movies, some of which are on DVD, and some of which aren’t.

I may be able to locate them all eventually, but it’s going to take some time.

However, if you have a favorite series, note it in the comments and I’ll try to get to it eventually.

Q: How do you choose which version of a movie to watch, what with all the director’s cuts, producer’s cuts, etc.?

A: Generally, I try to locate the most common cut, unless I think there’s something of value in watching an extended or otherwise “corrected” version of a film.

In most cases, I try to watch the “cannon” version – the movie that people who wrote the part III, IV and V would have had on hand when putting together their final product. This is why, even though the director’s cut of “Army of Darkness” is widely available, I wrote up the original version – because THAT’S the version any subsequent movies will follow.

To some extent, I suspect writing up every version of a movie could drive you insane. “Exorcist II,” for example, at one point had several minutes cut out of it – all of which were restored for the DVD. Trying to track down a cut version, just to see what all wasn’t there, probably wasn’t going to do anyone any favors.

By contrast, I did watch the extended version of “The Exorcist,” because the writer of that movie felt there were some important moments at the end of the film left on the cutting room floor – stuff that was important in “Exorcist III.” Of course, “III” came out before the extended version of “I” ever did.

Land of the Dead

“Land of the Dead” opens up with something of an anomaly: The ancient Universal Logo that was used back in the days when “King Kong” was a brand-spanking-new film.

This is followed by a few more credits, and then a burn-in: “Some Time Ago.”

From there, we get black-and-white footage of “the recent past,” with an old-fashioned radio broadcasting various and sundry voices, who explain what we’ve learned in the last three movies.

In other words, anyone dead gets up and kills, as long as anyone is alive they’re essentially a food source, you have to knock out the brain of the creatures to kill them, and so on.

Finally, black-and-white turns to color, and we get another burn-in: Today.

Man, I hope not. I’m a little nervous to look out the window now.

At any rate, as the movie really begins, we’re in a park, where a bunch of zombies are shuffling around. Except for the one playing the tuba. He’s mostly just standing there, playing the tuba.

At a nearby gas station, a zombie steps on that little hose that tells the dude inside that there’s someone outside who needs his gas pumped.

A black zombie steps outside, picks up the gas pump, and looks around for a vehicle to fill. But of course, there isn’t one. Unless that other zombie is headed off to grab a car and drive it over.

In the nearby bushes, two dudes who are not dead debate what the creatures are up to. One of them says they’re learning to be “us,” by which he means living, breathing, people.

The Black Zombie sees the two men in the bushes and does a large grunt at some other zombies, who turn towards the Black Zombie.

The two dudes realize that now would be a good time to go.

Elsewhere, a bunch of dudes dump crates filled with “trash,” at a dump site. One fellow notes that there’s a lot of trash, while another points out that the trick is to not end up as part of it.

Since one of the boxes is bleeding, I’m guessing the “trash” in question is, or was, some version of human.

And then we’re back with the two dudes who were spying on the Black Zombie. They’re walking towards what looks like the band of raiders from “Day of the Dead,” but which is in fact a group of professional raiders. As opposed to the amateur ones from “Day.”

Behind the two dudes, another guy who looks semi-dead stalks up behind them. One dude turns around, and the not-zombie asks if the kid is any good with his gun.

Thanks to the subtitles, we learn that the guy who did NOT draw his gun is named Riley, and the dude doing the stalking is Charlie, who claims he was only doing it because he doesn’t like it when Riley heads off without him.

Charlie, by the way, has something of a messed-up face.

Riley talks to someone on the radio, and tells them to “Put some flowers in the graveyard.”

Which, apparently, means, “Set off some fireworks to distract the zombies.”

Charlie asks why they call them flowers. It’s a whole long thing. You don’t really want to know. They’re just babbling for a bit anyway, so that Riley and crew can get to a nearby jeep, which is sitting in front of… I don’t even know what to call it.

The words written on the side say, “Dead Reckoning,” so I guess I’ll call it that. It looks like what you’d get if a school bus and a tank mated.

And here comes the dude dumping garbage and talking Spanish from earlier. His name is Cholo, and he and Riley do a whole back-and-forth thing that basically comes down to:

Riley: Hey, these zombies are communicating with each other. Also, don’t screw up, this is my last night in command.

Cholo: These things are stupid, and they are NOT talking to each other. And it’s my last night, too.

The New Kid gets on a motorcycle with Cholo, and he asks why they go out at night, instead of the daytime. Cholo says that the zombies can’t take their eyes off the fireworks.

Did I mention they’re here to raid the local town for supplies? No? Because neither did they, really, but it’s kind of implied.

The group rolls out, and the zombies just stand around, watching the fireworks. Except for the Black Zombie, who seems seriously miffed about the fact that no one is watching all the living people driving through the town.

Black Zombie grabs one of his compatriots by the head just as a biker blows off his body. The head looks at the Black Zombie, who throws it to the ground and crushes it.

You know, Black Zombie needs a name, or something. I think I’ll call him Buzz, in memory of Bub, who is still probably running around in Florida somewhere, looking for more soldiers to eat.

The raid commences, with people taking food and medicine. Then, suddenly, the fireworks stop firing, and the zombies stop looking at the sky.

This is Not Good.

Riley tells everyone to get out of town, while Dead Reckoning lays down some cover.

Dead Reckoning is being driven by Pretty Boy. Who’s a girl. Just FYI.

Riley contacts Cholo, who says he’s picking up some supplies. By supplies, he means booze, which sells for a lot of money back at… wherever they live.

Cholo is there with a guy named Foxy and a guy everyone calls The Kid, who doesn’t have a name, so he’ll be dead soon. Real soon.

Cholo goes to get something of a fridge in a liquor store, and gets attacked by a zombie. Foxy and The Kid try to help Cholo, but Cholo grabs his weapon and deals with the zombie.

Then Cholo knocks some cigars onto the floor, and tells The Kid to pick them up. The kid does, and a zombie takes a bite out of him.

The Kid runs outside, where Cholo and Foxy are loading up the hooch. Riley and Charlie pull up in their jeep. Riley shoots the zombie that bit The Kid.

He then goes to help The Kid, only The Kid jams a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger. I’d say his chances of recovering just went down pretty significantly.

Riley and Cholo exchange meaningful looks. Cholo and Foxy drive away.

Riley radios everyone to cease fire, pack it up, and call it a night.

Everyone drives out of town, really, really, really angering Buzz.

As everyone drives away, Buzz moans at them loudly. Then heads after them, with his various zombie buddies following along behind him. And did I mention he’s now carrying a semi-automatic weapon?

Okay, the next couple bits are a little jumbled, but it comes down to this:

Riley is mad at Cholo, since Cholo is responsible for the kid’s death. Cholo says the kid knew the risks, that they all know the risks, and that he’s going to be moving on up.

Moving on up to what?

Well, there’s a commercial on the TV talking about that – it’s called Fiddler’s Green, and it’s a big old building in the middle of the city where all the people with money live now.

Cholo thinks he’s going to move in there. Riley says it’ll never happen, they’re “the wrong kind.” I’d think it’s a racial thing, only Riley is white. So I’m at a loss as to what “The Wrong Kind” means. I’m guessing it’s a poor people issue, but if everyone is dead, how does one define wealth?

Cholo takes the cigars and liquor to some kind of office area, where a man behind a barred window asks Cholo what he’s doing. Cholo says he’s brought essential supplies for Kaufman.

Moments later, Cholo is in the middle of a massive way-upscale mall-type place, with shopping and eating and other such things. Imagine a mall for adults. Like that.

Cholo looks out of place, carrying his booze.

Elsewhere, Riley and Charlie walk through the deserted streets until they end up on some not-deserted streets, where a few scattered military guys let them into the area.

The area is a massive outdoor market, only with prostitutes among the other goods and services.

Charlie asks if Riley wants a drink, but Riley says he has to go see a man about a car.

Elsewhere, a handful of people in military garb explain how the city stays protected. It’s protected by water, for the most part, plus a half-mile electric fence. A zombie walks into the fence and starts on fire. So, you know, clearly this method works.

Inside the market/slum, a dude named Mulligan tries to get people to join forces with him, to storm Fiddler’s Green and take it over. Riley and Charlie show up, and Mulligan asks them the join his forces.

If I knew a dude named Mulligan, every time he did something stupid, I’d be like, “Hey dude. Do you want to take a you?”

Riley gives Mulligan antibiotics for his sick kid.

Inside Fiddler’s Green, Cholo goes into Kaufman’s apartment, where he encounters the black butler. Or whatever he is. The butler heard crying, so Cholo goes to investigate the apartment across the hall.

Cholo finds a dead man, who’s an older dude, hanging by his neck from a ceiling lamp.

Cholo gets ready to re-kill the dead guy once the dead guy wakes up, only the dead guy’s wife comes around the corner (she was the one crying) along with the dead guy’s son, who sets up the chair the dead guy jumped off when hanging himself, and tries to help his father.

Only the dead guy wakes up, and takes a bite out of his own kid.

Cholo tries to keep the dead guy’s wife quiet through all of this.

Then he clubs the dead guy back into death with a heavy statue.

Security shows up, armed and ready to do some killin’, and Cholo says it’s security’s problem now.

Out in the slum, Riley goes to get his car, only his car isn’t there.

So he heads to the slum’s version of Vegas, which has gambling, drugs, ladies in cages, and a chance to have your photo taken with a live zombie.

Riley approaches a fellow named Roach, and asks where Chihuahua is.

Roach tells him. Then he explains to a couple of folks about a new game, wherein two zombies fight over food.

It goes like this. Two zombie in chains go into a pit with fencing around it. Then they stick a person – in this case, a woman – in there with them and she tries to survive while the zombies fight it out.

This goes on while Riley confronts Chihuahua, who is a little person in a purple suit with a huge hat. Say what you will about George Romero, the man has his demographics covered in this flick.

Chihuahua says he’ll check into the missing car. Then he goes to the bar, and orders a drink and his gun.

Riley stands around waiting, when he hears a scream and notices that a person is trapped in a cage with two creatures that want to eat her, and that this totally isn’t Babylonian times, so that probably shouldn’t be happening.

He pulls out a gun and shoots both zombies in the head. Chihuahua takes aim at Riley and tries to shoot him, but shoots another guy instead.

Chihuahua takes another shot at Riley, only the woman he just saved kicks him in the head and knocks him to the ground. She appears to take the bullet meant for Riley, but it’s just her arm, so she’ll live.

Chihuahua runs around the gate to go shoot Riley. Only Charlie has pulled his gun, and he takes aim, and he shoots Chihuahua right in the noggin.

Riley shoots the lock off the fence, and goes to help the person he just saved. He sees that she’s bleeding, and gets ready to shoot her in the head. She sits up, and yeah, she’s just been shot in the arm, so she says she’s all right.

They both do a, “I’ve seen you around” kind of thing, and then guards come running in, and arrest Riley.

And Charlie, and what’s-her-name.

Oh. Slack. Thanks, subtitles.

Charlie asks Slack how she ended up in the cage with the zombies. First, she spouts some exposition about how Kaufman runs and owns everything, and then she follows that up with how she got thrown in the zombie cage for helping Mulligan and his people.

More information comes out. Riley plans to head North, to Canada. He wants to be where there are no people.

Charlie says he might be able to come along, because he’s useful.

Slack says she can be useful, too. She was training to be a member of the army before they figured out she’d make a better lady of the evening.

I don’t even want to ask how someone makes that determination.

Riley says he doesn’t want to hear her story.

But hey, it’s time for a new prisoner. Mulligan. A couple cops drag him by. Charlie asks if they’re going to kill him. Slack says they’ll get information out of him first – information about people like her.

Ladies of Easy Virtue? That seems like a strange thing to grill a man about. I guess everyone’s feeling a little lonely, at this point.

Out in the middle of nowhere, the zombie gang led by Buzz encounters a poorly constructed wall. Seriously. It appears to be made of plywood.

Buzz grabs a zombie carrying a cleaver and has him chop through the plywood. Which is one whole layer thick. The mind boggles.

Buzz peaks through the plywood, and sees a half-dozen zombies hanging in the air, strung up by their feet, with targets on their chests. This does not please Buzz.

Beyond the “targets,” Buzz can see Fiddler’s Green. That’s probably a bad thing, for the folks who are less than dead.

Back in the Green, Cholo finally delivers the box of booze to Kaufman, who mentions the neighbor that Cholo clubbed in the head. In an appreciative way.

Cholo opens up a bottle of booze and offers some to Kaufman, who notes that this is very extravagant.

Cholo says that it’s all right – with the $20,000 Kaufman owes him, plus some other money Cholo saved, Cholo now has the money to get his own place in The Green.

Kaufman says that there’s a “very long waiting list,” to get in, and Cholo replies, essentially, that if Kaufman doesn’t think Cholo is good enough to live there, Cholo will start telling people about what goes out with Kaufman’s garbage.

Something tells me that Cholo is unfamiliar with people in power. My suspicion is that if Kaufman took Cholo to the center of the mall, and then killed an ate him, as long as Kaufman had Cholo roasted first and/or used barbecue sauce in the eating process, no one would really care.

Kaufman suggests he and Cholo can talk about this when Cholo is “a little less excited.” And then in comes a guard.

Kaufman tells the guard, “I won’t be needing this man any more.”

Cholo starts walking down the stairs with the guard, then beats the guard down. And takes his gun.

Cholo heads out into the slums, and collects Foxy.

Out at one of the guard posts, two dudes who’ll surely be dead soon are having some target practice with a giant balloon-zombie. There’s no real sense of scale, so the thing appears to be Macy’s Parade-sized. I think a smaller target would be a better practice option.

Did I mention I suspect these guys’ll be dead soon?

Cholo and Foxy go up to another army dude and tell him they’re taking the truck out. Army dude asks for their orders, and Cholo hands him some.

Army dude tells Cholo that the orders are from the night before. Cholo reaches for his stolen gun, but pauses when he hears shots. The army man assures him it’s just target practice.

The two dudes having target practice get into an argument about one of them making too much noise. The noisemaker claims it’s not him, and turns on the search light. They see Buzz. They scream.

Cholo inquires if this is screaming practice. Sirens go off. The army faces down the cadre of zombies being led by Buzz, and shoots a whole lot of them.

Cholo, Foxy, and the rest of the Dead Reckoning crew get into the Dead Reckoning. Pretty Boy asks if they should do something about the zombies storming the single gate that’s holding the zombies back.

Cholo says that’s their way out.

The zombies knock over the chain link fence which, I think I should repeat, really was the only thing keeping the zombies away. So let’s recap. Keeping the zombies out:

One sheet of plywood.

A single chain-link fence.

I’m looking forward to the “line of banana peels” defensive strategy that I’m sure is coming up soon.

The zombies move in and starting eating army men, and the Dead Reckoning takes off. As this happens, Buzz accidentally pulls the trigger on the gun he’s been carrying around. It goes off. So Buzz points it at the Dead Reckoning and fires off a bunch of useless rounds.

No, wait, I take it back, he manages to hit a drum of something flammable, which blows up.

And so, the zombies walk on towards Fiddler’s Green.

In Dead Reckoning, Cholo calls Kaufman and says he wants his money, with interest. Five million dollars, or he blows Kaufman’s castle out of the sky, using Dead Reckoning.

Possible? Plausible? I have no idea. I didn’t realize that Dead Reckoning was that heavily armed. Maybe they’ll use the fireworks to torch the place?


Either way, Cholo hangs up, and Kaufman tells the dude who’s in the room with him (don’t ask me who he is, what he does, or what his name is, ‘cause I don’t know) what’s going on.

Random Dude says that Kaufman should pay Cholo, but Kaufman notes that they don’t negotiate with terrorists, and says they have other options.

I feel I need to reiterate this fact: In a world where money has lost ALL meaning, why NOT give Cholo 5 million bucks? Where’s the guy going to spend it? And on what? All of that paper money is just that – paper.

But I guess that wouldn’t make for much of a plot.

So Kaufman drags Riley out of prison, which makes Charlie sad. It seems to make Slack sad as well, which is interesting, since she just met the guy a couple of hours ago.

Kaufman tells Riley that he wants Riley to get Dead Reckoning back from Cholo. Apparently, Dead Reckoning is worth 2 million dollars. Oh, and it was designed by Riley.

In exchange, Riley wants a car, and enough weapons and ammunition to head North. And he wants to bring his friends. I find it odd that he used the plural, since as near as I can tell Charlie is his only friend. He can’t be talking about Slack, right? They JUST met.

We get a short scene where Cholo drops off a dude named Mouse at the pier where someone is supposed to drop his money. It’s meant to build tension, but nothing actually happens, so I’ll just mention it’s there and leave it at that.

Back in a locker room at The Green, Riley, Charlie, and Slack are suiting up and getting ready to go out and find Dead Reckoning. Okay, it appears no one is listening to me: They JUST MET Slack. Why is she even on this adventure? Anyone?

Seriously, now. If she shoots Riley in the head and takes off on her own, will anyone be surprised? At all?


On with the show.

Slack wants to know why Riley is helping Kaufman. Riley points out that if Cholo shells The Green, it’s going to hurt the people in “the city.” By which I’m guessing he means the slums.

In addition to our lovable losers, Riley is given three more people for his team. They all get cute little names and such, but I’m just going to call them Skinny Solider, Chick Solider, and Fat Soldier. Because they’re really just along to keep the body count high.

Riley and crew head outside, to the place where all the vehicles are kept. Of course, this is where all the dead people just were. Along with, like, the flames and stuff.

Uh… say… question… Why aren’t there more soldiers there now, cleaning up the dead bodies? And/or wiping out the undead ones? Did they somehow just miss all the explosions and such? And the fact that their gate has been knocked over?

Riley tells Charlie to go fire up The Woody, which I hope is some sort of vehicle. He then radios back to Kaufman that the zombies got through his tiny little weak fence, and that they’re headed for The Green.

Kaufman says that the creatures will never get past the water in the way, which is pretty stupid, as it’s not like zombies even need to swim. They don’t breathe. So they can just, like, walk across. I’m not really sure what kept them back this long.

Kaufman adds, “Zombies, man. They creep me out.” Which I think might be the very first time someone has used the word zombie in one of these movies. Though I could be wrong.

Probably not, though.

I confess I love the next scene, but it’s totally pointless. They find “Woody,” which is a big old car that has guns welded to it. They keys are melted (they fat guy points at the fires, so I guess they used to keep the keys on top of easy-to-explode fuel drums) so Chick Solider hotwires the car.

Charlie looks down his rifle, carefully aiming for a zombie that’s somewhere. Eventually, he’s pointing his rifle right at Slack’s head. Charlie fires, Slack jumps, and then turns around and sees that there was a zombie RIGHT behind her, which Charlie shot.

Instead of, say, telling her to duck first. Or maybe telling her to run away so he could shoot it. That was pretty reckless, all things being equal.

Riley and Skinny Solider go into the ammo room, and get ammo. And shoot a bunch of zombies in the head.

Back at the car, Slack sees a zombie behind Charlie, and she shoots the zombie. She also nicks Charlie’s ear with the bullet. On the side of his face that looks normal. Poor dude just can’t catch a break.

Riley and Skinny Solider run up to the vehicle, and they all pile in.

Then an nearly-headless zombie trundles up, his head hanging by a bit of skin at the back of his neck. Headless swings forward, and bites Skinny Solider. Then he falls back, and Charlie shoots the zombie through the chest, and the bullet goes all the way through the zombie and through the zombie’s head.

Riley asks if Skinny Solider is bit. Fat solider says yes. Riley says, “Go!” Meaning the car. Not skinny soldier. Who actually should leave, before he becomes undead and tries to kill them all.

The crew drives out. Slack asks Riley how long Skinny Solider has to live. Riley said he had a brother who got bitten, and that the brother turned in less than an hour. Slack shoots skinny solider in the head.

Back in The Green, Kaufman assures his various “board members” that even if things go south, he has set up places for them to go to, where their families will be safe.

Over in Dead Reckoning, Cholo talks about how he’s never going to be anyone, because he never did anything. Then he shoots a zombie in the head.

Next, with Riley and crew, Riley tells Slack where to drive, because she’s driving now and he has a homing device.

Slack tells Riley she’s never been out of the city.

Riley tells Slack to pull over. He tells Charlie to cover the soldiers, and informs them that Kaufman is never going to see Dead Reckoning again. And if they have a problem with that, they can get out. Only, of course, they can see the various and sundry zombies walking around, so they know that’s not really much of a choice.

The crew drives on.

Cholo radios Mouse to ask if the money has arrived yet, and Mouse says no. Then Mouse gets attacked by zombies. And eaten by a zombie clown. And then some other zombies.

Mouse dies. There are intestines involved.

Elsewhere, Buzz and his zombie army encounter the water barrier that prevents them from getting to The Green. Buzz steps off the ground and into the water.

A couple of short scenes later, Buzz and his cohorts step out of the water. Yep. Bunch of zombies stepping out of the water and walking towards the city. If you’re a fan of this kind of thing, this is the moment where you simultaneously wet your pants a little bit, and start composing your fan letter to George Romero.

Oh, and there are some scenes where Cholo loads up the rockets on Dead Reckoning so he can blow things up. And Riley sees where Cholo is headed, and tells Slack where to go to stop Cholo.

Kaufman starts packing up his money, in preparation for leaving The Green. Seriously, y’all, the man is packing a bunch of green-tinted toilet paper.

I guess we’re getting into where everything is supposed to fall apart, so let’s just rock off some twists.

Long story short, the Fat Solider realizes he’s better off throwing in with Riley, so he punches Chick Solider in the face, and knocks her out. And leaves her in the back of the stolen vehicle, which has no roof. And she’s unconscious. I can’t say I feel really good about this particular story piece.

And Riley and Charlie go to “talk to” Cholo about his poor life choices.

And Slack and Fat Solider chase after them, after punching Chick Solider out and leaving her lying around like a tasty, tasty steak.

Cholo opens up Dead Reckoning, and lets Riley and Charlie in. Then he sticks a gun in Riley’s face, and tells Pretty Boy to get ready to shoot the rockets at The Green.

Meanwhile, at the city, everyone outside is getting eaten. So, you know… maybe being blown up wouldn’t be so bad at this point.

In the midst of all this, Buzz teaches another zombie to shoot an automatic gun, so they can more efficiently kill their prey.

Back at The Woody, Chick Solider wakes up. And grabs a gun. And wanders around for a little while, almost effects the main plotline but doesn’t really, then she gets eaten.

Cholo goes to blow up Fiddler’s Green, only Riley uses his homing device/remote control to keep Cholo from doing anything. And then he destroys the remote.

There’s some gunfire, and Charlie takes the guns out of the hands of the people holding guns on him.

Did I mention Cholo totally got shot in there, somewhere? He did. The chick solider did it, just before she got eaten. But like I said, it doesn’t really effect the plot, since Cholo is still super-alive.

Kaufman is confronted by one of his cohorts – whose money is in the bag? Kaufman pulls a “look over there!” trick, and shoots his friend in the head.

Riley calls Kaufman to tell Kaufman that they caught Cholo. Kaufman is saddened by this, as he wouldn’t have had to kill his cohort, if he had known this.

Suddenly, something in The City blows up real good. And now everyone is finally aware that The Dead have totally gotten into the city, and that they are totally eating people.

Riley tells his people to pick Cholo up and put him in Dead Reckoning. Cholo says he’d rather take The Woody. Foxy opts to go with Cholo.

Foxy is the stupidest person in this movie who doesn’t end up as lunchmeat.

Cholo says he’s going to head to an outpost in Cleveland. Riley says they haven’t heard anything from them in a while.

I just cannot get over how dumb Foxy is, following this guy.

Moving right along.

Riley tells the crew that they’re going to head back to the city, and see if they can help anyone.

Man, that’s like an hour’s drive. Everyone’s going to be a chew toy by the time they get there.

Kaufman states, “You have no right.” I guess he’s talking to the zombies. He is a silly man.

Riley and crew head back to the city, informing whoever is still running the place that they need to shut down the electric fence that surrounds the city so that people can escape. A few army folks say they can’t get ahold of the power people – everyone is gone. Or dead. Or whatever happened, they don’t know, they just know they’re leaving. So they do.

Riley babbles a bunch of, “We can’t help people in any of the following ways,” lines, but notes that he has a plan.

I should point out that in the middle of all the zombie mayhem, a biker from “Dawn of the Dead,” now available in zombie form, hacks up some people with a machete.

Back with Cholo and Foxy, Cholo spots a zombie, and shoots it in the head, and then gets bitten by another zombie. Foxy cocks his shotgun and gives Cholo a choice of whether or not he wants a shot in the head now, or not.

Cholo opts to NOT get shot in the head, stating, “I always wanted to see how the other half lives.”

In the city, it’s more zombie mayhem. And things blowing up. And zombies on fire. Buzz headshots the zombie on fire. Zombie mercy killing, apparently.

They all just keep on heading to Fiddler’s Green, the big old building at the heart of the city.

Foxy drops Cholo off in the city so that Cholo can do whatever, and then Foxy takes off. Adios, Foxy. I have no idea how you lived this long. I truly do not.

Buzz and his cohorts break into Fiddler’s Green and start eating people.

Riley and Dead Reckoning arrive at a bridge, and Riley goes to lower the bridge, which will hopefully allow people to escape.

Meanwhile, a bunch of residents of Fiddler’s Green have managed to run outside, only the electric fence is still active.

Riley goes into the bridge-lowering building, and goes to lower the bridge.

Inside Dead Reckoning, the various people inside realize that they’re surrounded by zombies.

They open the roof hatch, and Riley runs up the front of Dead Reckoning. Only he can’t get in, because Pretty Boy is driving Dead Reckoning around.

They cross the bridge. Riley is still up top.

Riley tells them to fire off some sky flowers. Sky flowers are fired.

Over by the electric fence, a bunch of people have a fence on one side, and a bunch of zombies on the other. And here come the flowers.

The zombies are distracted for about a second, and then they get their focus back, and people are gonna get eaten. In a big way.

Kaufman and his man-servant head out of Fiddler’s Green and go to Kaufman’s car, pausing to shoot at Buzz on the way. Kaufman hits Buzz twice, which makes Buzz mad. This is probably not a good thing.

Kaufman gets into his car, and his man-servant goes to open the garage door. Did I mention they’re in some sort of underground garage? They totally are.

A hand slams Kaufman’s window. It’s Buzz!

Kaufman’s driver makes a run for it – and he’s got the keys.

Buzz pounds on the window. Kaufman goes to shoot him, but he’s out of bullets.

Buzz grabs a nearby gas pump, and makes as if to pump Kaufman’s gas. Then he jams the gas nozzle through the car’s front window, and just kind of wanders off, with gas leaking into Kaufman’s car.

Kaufman gets out of the car, gets some ammo, and reloads. And here comes Cholo, who fires at Kaufman. Kaufman fires back, but Cholo keeps on coming. Because Cholo is all dead and such.

Kaufman locates an extra set of keys, then turns around, and realizes that Cholo is still moving, because Cholo is a zombie. A really rotted one, which is strange, since Cholo has been dead for like 20 minutes.

Eh. Whatever. We’re talking about a movie that involves the walking dead. Time to suspend some disbelief, methinks.

Anyway, Cholo grabs Kaufman, and Buzz rolls a firebomb kind of thing into the garage, which hits all the gasoline on the floor and causes the car to blow up. Thus allowing Kaufman to be killed by a Latino and a black fellow, both of whom were poor. Romero might have gone just a touch over the top with the irony.

Outside, Dead Reckoning finally gets to the electric fence, and Charlie prepares to fire. But they’re WAY too late. As I predicted. Because seriously, that was a long, long, long drive they had to make.

Riley tells Charlie to shoot. Charlie shoots three rockets, which… kills a bunch of zombies, I guess. Seems like a waste of ammo, really.

Pretty Boy says they’re too late.

Slack says, no, wait. And then all the poor people come wandering out. Guess they’re better at hiding from zombies, or something. And explosives.

Riley steps outside and says howdy to Mulligan. He and his people are staying, and planning on attempting to rebuild the city. Somehow. Seriously, does no one realize that Fiddler’s Green is like ten blocks away, and TEEMING with the living dead? Run, Mulligan! Take a You!

Or is that the joke? Mulligan gets a second chance at creating a safe city?

All right then. I’m just going to let that go.

Riley notes, once again, that he’s headed out of here. In a gigantic gas-guzzling vehicle, which I hope runs on solar power, because I can see no way he’s going to find gas, or diesel, or corn oil, or whatever that thing runs on.

Inside the Dead Reckoning, Anchor, a guy who didn’t have a name until now, gets attacked by a zombie. Which someone shoots and tosses out of the vehicle.

Riley looks outside, and sees a bunch of zombies, including Buzz, walking across a bridge. Pretty Boy goes to fire at them.

Riley says, “No. They’re just looking for a place to go.” Then he tells his crew to fire off the last of the sky flowers. And to head North.

That way, we can get a shot of the Dead Reckoning heading off on the highway, while fireworks fill the air. Happy Ending!

And really, that’s the end.

I feel the need to bring this up because, if you know anything about these movies at all, you’re probably well aware that there’s another movie in the series: “Diary of the Dead.”

But here’s the dilemma – “Diary” doesn’t follow this movie.

There are a lot of words used when it comes to “Diary.” Reboot. Starting over. Sequel. But really, it’s more of a side-quel – “Diary” takes place at the beginning of the zombie uprising.

Only, of course, the zombie uprising happened in 1968.

Now, honestly, even that’s in question when you take the first four “Dead” movies into consideration. If you tried to timeline them out, “Night,” follows the first night of the zombie uprising. Which is followed by “Dawn,” which partially takes place at the same time as “Night,” even though it was shot roughly ten years later.

And then ten years after that came “Day,” which may or may not take place at the “same” time as “Dawn.” Seeing as how there’s a pregnant woman in “Dawn” who never gives birth, we have to assume the heroes of that movie are only in the mall for a few months. Six. Maybe seven at most.

And the people in “Day” haven’t been in their hidey-hole all that long. Months? A year? There’s no way to tell.

“Land” is, in fact, the only one of the three that must take place after the other movies, though trying to figure out an exact timeline is probably completely impossible.

So… what to do with “Diary?”

I’m going to include it.

But I wanted to note, here and now, that “Land” really completes the story of the dead. In the first movie, they’re mindless beings. In the second, we learn that they’ve retained some memories. And that to some degree they can learn.

In the third movie, we discover just how much they might be able to learn – and in part four, the zombies are on their way to building a new society. One that’s going to run out of food pretty quick, seeing as how there aren’t a ton of people left.