Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 2016


The genre mash-up cross-breeding of literary or historical texts with splatter culture hasn’t set the cinematic world alight; neither Pride and Prejudice and Zombies nor Abraham Lincoln; Vampire Hunter seem to have found much of an audience. While neither film is a world-beater, each film is interesting in the war they attempt to spin out a simple sketch idea into a full feature. Writer/director Burr Steers, adapting the Quirk Books imprint, sees Elizabeth and Darcy (Lily James and Sam Reily) engaging in a tentative romance against the background of a full zombie apocalypse, and the violence is deliberately juxtaposed with the more sensitive feelings on show. The result is clever and nicely done, even if horror or literary fans are likely to be confused, it should be remembered that Steers’ film is a spoof, and has no other intent other than to showcase it’s own oddness.


Stake Land 2010


The big budget version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road fizzled somewhat; perhaps writer/director Jim Mickle might have been a more imaginative choice as director. His follow up to 2006’s Mulberry Street, Stake land, has a similar feel from dilapidated Gothic Americana; after a vampire pandemic sweeps America, Martin (Connor Paolo) falls in with the more experienced Mister (Nick Damici0 for a cross country trek, with New Eden, a safe and resurgent area of civilization, their goal. Along the way they encounter a variety of characters, including Kelly McGillis as a nun, and the treacherous route is populated by vicious vampires, ready to pounce on the unwary. Mickle does well with both tension and character development; in a glut of zombie/vampire films, Stake Land gets good results on a low budget.

The Beyond 1981

TB in hell

Although his early career was distinguished by tense Eurothrillers like Perversion, A Lizard in a Women’s Skin, The Psychic and Don’t Torture The Duckling, Lucio Fulci’s name will be forever associated with his embrace of gore in the late 70’s and early eighties. The derogatory description ‘Ful-shit’ was coined, but many of his attempts to follow up the success of Zombi (1979) can be seen to have values beyond just sensation. After an eerie prologue, The Beyond sees Catriona McColl unwittingly opening the gates of Hell in a South Louisiana setting, and that means the undead in various stages of decomposition, but it’s the dreamlike logic and often beautiful visuals that stay in the mind; there’s a strange poetry at work between the gross-out shocks. That this one banned film is making up the weight on free movie channel Crackle demonstrates how far the climate for horror has changed.

Cemetery Man 1988


Coming late to the 70’s zombie party, and too early to be part of the comic-book fad, Michele Soavi’s Dellamorte Dellamorte is a highly unusual horror-romance, with Rupert Everett as Francesco, who keeps watch in an abandoned graveyard for the unwelcome intervention of the living dead. Francesco’s daily routine of dispatching the dead is interrupted when he falls in love with a mysterious woman, leading to complications that have the knockabout tone of, say Evil Dead II, but also have a spiritual and metaphorical means about the thin line between love and death. The rare thing, a thoughtful, lyrical horror film, the story was told again, less effectively and for just a small an audience, in 2008’s Dylan Dog, adapted from the same popular Italian comic strip.