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TL: So, it would seem that Constantine enjoyed a bigger budget than Dog Soldiers, but I think it may have been ahead of its time in terms of Angel popularity. This kind of pseudo-religious apocalypse at the hands of an angel movie has been done a few times, most famously in The Prophecy and most recently in Legion. Constantine fits right in the middle time-wise, but was, in my opinion, the best of the three.

What did you think of the movie?

KW: I agree. Putting aside all bias toward werewolves, I have to admit this was a stellar movie.

One of the things I usually dislike about film adaptations of graphic novels is often the attempt to capture the look overrides other elements of the movie. The result is usually high art for the sake of high art, celebrities thrown into the mix making the the high production value fall flat for me.

Movies like Sin City, for example, wind up being nothing but a second-rate imitation (from which I frankly wanted to walk out of). Graphic novels have the ability to depict things that are unimaginable in real life and that can entail some horrific scenes. But, nobody wants to see the real Wile E. Coyote actually get smushed by the falling anvil. My measure of success for adaptations of graphic novels is balancing the art with the storyline and acting. Constantine was able to pull it off. And then some.

That said, there were a significant amount of changes from the original source, particularly the character of Constantine. What are your thoughts on filmmakers drastically altering or mixing content in the process of adapting novels for the big screen?

TL: That kind of thing doesn’t bother me that much. What works in a book doesn’t always work on-screen. The Da Vinci Code for example. They were too true. In Angels and Demons, they changed more and the movie benefited from those changes. It’s interesting to see what another mind does with the original story, what compromises they choose to make, what works and what doesn’t.

I haven’t read Constantine, so I can’t compare them, but I also appreciate the fact that the movie isn’t overdone. I found it very appealing visually but I also really enjoyed the story, the humour and the mythology. The final confrontation in this movie is fantastic – the motivations of each character and the role they play is so… cynical? Is that the word I am looking for?

KW: Agreed. The original source can’t be translated literally. I appreciate when a filmmaker can “interpret” the original source so it’s true without being literal. Keanu Reeves, though great to look at at, is not the finest actor but he did a good job. Overall, I enjoyed the acting. The cinematography and special effects were especially cool. As for cynical perspective of the characters: maybe. I think there had to be an aspect of hope to pull the protagonists out of the frightening prospects that lay ahead of them though. Don’t you think?

TL: Hope is there. But Constantine hopes that if he commits suicide (again), that he can save the girl. Lucifer hopes that if he saves Constantine’s life, that he will mess up again and go straight to Hell next time. Gabriel hopes that Hell on Earth will make humanity worthy of God. It’s a pretty grim set of hopes.

KW: Yeah, but hope is hope, grim or not. The darkest hour is before the dawn and all that. I actually like the bleakness of it in a way because despite the cool special effects, the overarching premise of the movie wasn’t heavy-handed in the way that a lot of big budget Hollywood films are with an obvious pulling at heartstrings or morality.

TL: I will tell you a secret: I Love Keanu. He picks movies that work with his Ted vs the Matrix legacy. They are always burnt out a little, they speak slowly, but they have an inner stregnth that I think he actually works quite well. So maybe he didn’t quite pull off being Buddha. He is apparently a reaally intelligent person and voracious reader.

And the young Shia Lebeouf! I had forgotten about his role in this movie. He does a great job at annoying sidekick.

What did you think of Gabriel being played by a woman?

KW: Since we’re admitting to secrets, I too will admit that I love Keanu. He’s not likely to win any Oscars but you can’t fault him for knowing his limitations and picking characters that he’s able to portray honestly. I feel that critics who find his acting wooden or reminiscent of some of his earlier roles, are biased in their reviews and pan anything in which he appears. As for Shia Lebeouf, I also forgot about him in the film and with reason. He was the biggest cliche in the movie, right up to how things end up for him.

As for my thoughts on Gabriel being played by a woman: fantastic! However, I think it worked only because it was Tilda Swinton. Any other female actor might not have been able to pull it off. She was able to balance the androgyny of this character with playfulness that was more charming than creepy. You?

TL: When I first watched this movie back in the day, it made me a fan of SWINTON. She is fierce and beautifu but androgynous, exactly. She’s perfect – a brilliant choice for this role.

Constantine was the kind of movie I wanted Legion to be – smart, dark, a little bit mystic. I’m going to give it 9/10 – it’s a contender for top of this (hopefully!) burgeoning genre.

KW: Yes, this was an enjoyable movie and one that Hollywood producers should be mindful of when creating the next films of this theme. It had all the right elements of both story line and style without being over-the-top. So, I’m going to agree with you here and give it a 9/10 also in the hopes that we see more films of this calibre in the future.


Alright, unDead nation, I am feeling a little defeated this weekend. Legion, though creeptastic in parts, was a pretty big let down. Let me just say that if you are going to watch an apocolyptic angel movie this weekend, save some money and rent Constantine.

Let’s start with the good. The creep-factor is pretty high for some parts of this movie. That old lady from the trailer is even worse on the big screen. Ditto for the ice cream man. But HOLY CRAP.. wait til you see the kid. “It’s OK. I just want to play with your baby”. *shudder*

I liked Paul Bettany, and I actually kinda liked thier take on Micheal. Michael disobeying God is a new interpretation of his angelic archetype, and I am always a fan of innovation. Michael is a pretty arrogant guy, and could be a little more forth-coming with plot-enhancing explanations, but he comes by his arrogance honestly and he’s right almost all of the time.

Gabriel, on the other hand, was a pretty weak character. And, it’s been done better in Constantine and The Prophecy. He’s somewhat of a minor character in Legion, which is strange since he is the one who leads the army of creepy possesed people. He doesn’t even appear until the last third of the movie.

About the fighting: This is the kind of movie that needs a pretty epic battle; it IS the end of the world, after all. And to his credit, Gabriel tried. He came onto the scene ready to kick-butt and take some names. But there was no ‘battle’, just a couple of scuffles.

But, the biggest problem is that nothing in the plot makes sense.

Consider this your fair warning: The rest of this is spoilers…

Things that were never explained:
Who the hell names thier kid “Jeep”?
Why don’t the angels just possess the people in the diner?
Why THAT baby? He’s just some bastard son of a waitress.
Why does the baby stop the possessed people in thier tracks?
Is this baby made of adimantium? He gets tossed around like a pigskin.
Why does Jeep get covered in angel tattoos, but never gets any angel powers?
Did this happen to the whole world? Or just the South Western US?
Were all the possesed people ok after God changes his mind?

This is a pretty big month for Undeath Match at the box office. Deanna, Katie and I are all pretty excited about the release of Daybreakers, Wolfman and Legion respectively. (But really, were all pretty excited for all three of these movies!) So we just had to know which of these movies you, our Undead Devotees, are most excited for. Check out the trailers below, and vote in our mini-poll.


Wolf Man


Unlike Vampires and Werewolves, whose respective traditions are only a few centuries old, Angels go waaaaaaaay back. A few millenia at least. Having been around that long, a few of them have reached a kind of celebrity status, at least among the religious set.

But where can you find them in popular culture? Let’s find out together.

The Metatron

The Metatron is number one among all the angels in Heaven. Now, I could tell you all about his job description, or I could let the wonderful Allan Rickman do it:

He also figures quite prominently in Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass.

The Archangels
There are generally thought to be 7 Archangels. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel are almost unanimously agreed upon by all Western religious traditions to be part of this group. The other 3 angels’ names vary depending on the source.

Now, if THIS is what you are thinking of when I say Michael, you might be following the wrong blog.

Michael is the head of God’s Army. When Lucifer rose up in Heaven, it was Michael who led the defending army, and who personally put Satan in his place. In Judaism, it is believed that Michael was the protector of the Jewish people back in the day when other gods still existed in the Middle East. Michael is almost always depicted with either a sword or a spear. He is the warrior angel, no doubt about it.

In the upcoming movie Legion, Michael is the only angel fighting on our side. Michael is mentioned in the Milton’s classic Paradise Lost, and according to wikipedia, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty was based on the diary of a man named Father Bishop, who performed an exercism on a 13-year old boy. During the ritual, “the boy saw a vision of the Devil and ten of his helpers engaged in a fiery battle with St. Michael. At one point during the dream, the angel smiled at the boy and said “Dominus.” Shortly thereafter, the boy shouted out: “Satan! Satan! I am St. Michael, and I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits, to leave the body in the name of Dominus, immediately.” Thomas B. Allen also used this diary as a source for Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism.

Raphael is God’s Healer. In art, he is generally depicted holding either food or medicine, not a weapon. In Paradise Lost, Raphael is the voice that talks to Adam about the Tree of Knowledge, and also the history of the War in Heaven.

Raphael is known for one battle – his fight with Azazel, whom he bound and cast into a crag.

Gabriel is about to take the spotlight from Michael, IMHO. Traditionally, he has been God’s herald, delivering important messages to humanity on His behalf. He will also be the one blowing the trumpet that will signal the End of Days. Like his buddies Michael and Raphael, Gabriel was also in Paradise Lost, as the chief of the angelic guards placed over Paradise. More recently, Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses has his main character be the modern incarnation of Gabriel.

But it’s on the big screen that we see a darker side of Gabriel, on that shows the angel to be jealous of humans, and rather violent. In The Prophecy series of the 1990s, Gabriel (played by Christopher Walken) wants to destroy humanity because he is sick of the love God shows them. This theme is played out again in the 2005 film Constantine, where Gabriel is played by Tilda Swinton. She plots to release Hell on Earth so that humanity will have to fight and earn God’s love. And of course, Gabriel will reprise this role in Legion, leading the army of God to destroy humanity.

Oh, and did you know that vampire slayer extrodinaire, Van Helsing, is actually the angel Gabriel? True Story.

Uriel is the angel with the Firey Sword. He booted Adam and Eve out of Eden, and now stands watch there, barring reentry. He is the angel of repentance and wisdom, who both delivered important figures from harm and taught the prophets divine knowledge.

Uriel’s best known reference might be the book Uriel’s Machine: The Ancient Origins of Science. It is based partially on the tradition that Uriel taught Enoch (a rather holy man who may or may not have become The Metaron) all about the solar system.

And finally, the angel you’ve all be waiting for…

Also known as Sataniel, he was originally an Archangel. In the Latin, Lucifer translates to Bearer of Light. It is said that he was the greatest among the Angels at one time, the most beautiful, and the most dear to God.

However, Lucifer wanted to be as powerful as God, and had to be put down. Michael and Gabriel put him in his place and beat back his armies. They were thrown into the depths of hell, and have since been thought of as demons.

Now, there are literally thousands of references to The Devil and Satan in movies and literature. But, to get a good sense of Lucifer as a fallen angel instead of the father of all evil, I would recommend Paradise Lost, or I, Lucifer.

Here's an Idea Bella: Run. Fast. With Both Feet.

Katie and I became slightly enraged talking to one another (not AT one another) about New Moon. As it’s been well documented, I think this film is one giant sparkle away from complete suckage, but who am I to begrudge the tween girls their indulgences. Wait…that’s exactly what we do below. So, without further ado, Katie and I go head-to-head with the Twihards. We fully expect backlash. Indeed, we do.

Good afternoon friend. So, I hear you’ve had the pleasure of seeing New Moon. There’s just one thing I want to point out before we start our undeath match unreview — that director Chris Weitz has been saying all over the place that if people just don’t like and/or get the film it’s because it’s not made for them — it’s for the “fans.” Personally, I think this is just one giant cop out.


Um, wow. That’s, like, a supernatural-sized cop out. Would you care for a slice of humble-pie with that statement? I get that he was burned pretty badly by his work on The Golden Compass but, come on, dude. That’s like saying people who hate the Twilight series of books just aren’t “fans” of the genre. A good movie is a good movie. And a bad one is a rotten tomato.


Likewise for books. And, for the record, that doesn’t mean a bad movie or book can’t be a commercial success.

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Scott Speedman in Underworld: Evolution

Scott Speedman in Underworld: Evolution

Katie and I were both felled by a terrible bout of sickness as we started to discuss this film. Imagine the two of us curled up on the couch with hot tea, Kleenex, and a cozy blanket while trying to think of witty (and sometimes scathing) things to say to one another over the course of our virtual conversation.

Good morning. Hope you’re feeling better. Let’s get right down to it — I’ve seen Underworld: Evolution probably a dozen times. And I can’t explain my truly odd fascination with these films. What did you think?

This was only my second viewing of Underworld: Evolution. Admittedly, my first impression was kind of meh. On second viewing my opinion improved somewhat. Overall, I tend to find sequels not as great as the original with trilogies sometimes making up for the middle film (as is the case here). I think it was the realization of the hybrid on-screen that didn’t appeal to me. I found that Michael’s altered state didn’t come off nearly as cool as a vampire or a lycan. In fact, there were points in the film where I felt he was kind of like a greyish Incredible Hulk (a la Lou Ferrigno). Plus, let’s face it, there really wasn’t enough lycan action throughout this movie.

Read the rest of this entry »

[We’ve got a list of top vampire and zombie movies floating around on the (un) Death-Match site. Well, it’s high time that we take a look at werewolves. My lovely friend from The Dartmouth Soundsystem agreed to shower the site with her expertise in this area. She takes a look at werewolves on the big and little screen.]

By Lauren Oostveen

Twilight has made a bold attempt to turn vampires into wimps, and with that mopey sequel in theatres, werewolves are getting the pre-teen treatment, too. Alas. I fear for the youth of today.

For your benefit, here are some facts you should know about werewolves:

1. A werewolf would eat you.
2. A werewolf doesn’t care about your feelings.
3. A werewolf won’t hold your hand while you cry.
4. Lon Chaney Jr. > Taylor Lautner times ONE MILLION.
5. Benecio Del Toro > Taylor Lautner…and I haven’t seen The Wolf Man remake, yet! My assumption is based off of the ridiculous poster. See:


If you agree with the statements above…then read on! Here are a few of my favourite werewolves in television and film.

1. An American Werewolf in London
We have many things to thank John Landis for (and a few things to loath him for). My personal favourite of his is An American Werewolf in London, which successfully merges horror and comedy to create a really fun film. Two American backpackers are travelling around the UK when they’re attached by a mysterious beast. Don’t go out to the moors at night, OK?

2. Ginger Snaps
Growing up sucks! Two creepy sisters, Ginger and Bridgitte, are having fun being morbid and stuff when A) Ginger gets her period for the first time and B) Is subsequently bitten by a werewolf. Isn’t puberty the worst? As Ginger gets scarier and scarier, her sister tries to find a way to cure her. Awesome Canadian film!

3. The Wolf Man
This film is like the Holy Bible of werewolf flicks. It introduced the notion that a silver bullet can kill a werewolf, that they are forced to change under a full moon, and that they are supposedly marked with a pentagram. Lon Chaney Jr. portrays a man who goes to visit his ancestral home when he is attacked by a werewolf. His performance in this film is chock full of guilt and torment, leaving the audience more sympathetic than scared. The make-up in this movie is ridiculous, especially when you account for it being 1941 and all.

4. The Howling
Joe Dante, I love you! Please do a sequel to The ‘burbs. Another great 1980s werewolf movie. A TV news anchor heads to a commune-esque clinic to take a break after being traumatized by a serial killer. Fun party, right? NOPE. Straaaaaaange things happen once she arrives. What she doesn’t know is that there is a “den” of werewolves nearby…dun dun DUNNNN.

5. Wolfen
OK, so they’re not really werewolves…just really smart wolves who decide they’re hungry for MAN FLESH. Features kind of heavy-handed social commentary and views of urban decay in New York City. If that doesn’t interest you, your boyfriend Edward James Olmos is in it.

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Seth Green plays an introspective teenager named Oz who plays lead guitar in Dingos Ate My Baby and turns into a werewolf every once in a while. By dating Willow the witch, he becomes part of the Scooby Gang until things go decidedly bad and he leaves town. Oz is mostly well behaved and only occasionally eats people.

7. The Hilarious House of Frightenstein
This amazing 1970s Canadian kids show had a cast of creepy characters, but The Wolfman stood out for me as being the best. The guy has a bunch of things going for him…he’s a DJ, he gets to listen to Sly and the Family Stone all day, sports a fashionable beard, and has excellent dance parties with Igor. Lucky.

8. Werewolves on Wheels
A biker gang smashes up the monastery of some Satan-worshipping monks. OH NO! But the monks have a trick up their sleeve, as they have turned one of the biker chicks into a werewolf via their evil powers…with dire results, mwahahha.

9. Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too
Michael J. Fox is an average guy, but then he turns into a werewolf and is a BASKETBALL STAR and A TOTAL STUD. But what he wants most is to be normal. Sigh.
Jason Bateman stars in the so-bad-it’s-kinda-good sequel with basically the same plot. Except he’s in college. And the sport is boxing. OK.

10. Dog Soldiers
British soldiers are on a training operation in Scotland, which, unfortunately, is overrun with werewolves. And the full moon is rising. Well, darn it. The soldiers fight for their lives as they attempt to live through the night. A pretty tense movie with lots of jumpy moments.


The Zombies from Shaun of the Dead Wear Great Outfits as They Lust for Flesh

The last thing I want to do is help Dan lose any more painfully than he has already…but, I said we’d post up the 10 Best Zombie Films and by gosh, here they are in no particular order. Again, I had help compiling this list. Again, holler back if we’ve gotten it completely wrong.

Shaun of the Dead (2004) directed by Edgar Wright
This one’s easy. It’s funny, has lots of gore, and moves from “good horror film” to “great film” easily.

Dellamorte Dellamore aka Cemetery Man (1994) directed by Michele Soavi
Rupert Everett is super hot! Also, if you’re catching a theme: comedy seems to work well in terms of making a successful zombie film. Um, we like a touch of funny with our gross and our scary.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) directed by George A. Romero
Obvious one.

Day of the Dead (1985) directed by George A. Romero

Fido (2006) directed by Andrew Currie
While it might not be the greatest film we’re listing, it stars Billy Connolly and is actually a Canadian film — and not just a picture made here and dressed to look like some inane American city/place (Resident Evil; we’re looking at you).

[Rec] (2007) directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
The whole hand-held, one cameraman “faux news” technique (kind of akin to Cloverfield only they’re technically professional news peeps in [Rec]) does the trick in this Spanish film. See if you still want to grow up to be a firefighter after watching this picture.

Dead Alive (Braindead) (1992) directed by Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson with a decidedly lower film budget.

White Zombie (1931) directed by Victor Halperin
Before zombies were reinvented by Romero. Bela Lugosi in all his creepy overacting glory.

I Walked with a Zombie (1943) directed by Jacques Tourneur
Jacques Tourneur also directed Cat People. This film’s truly an old school zombie/voodoo deal that is also an adaptation of Jane Eyre. Hummm, I wonder where the idea for P+P+Z came from?

Dawn of the Dead (remake 2004) directed by Zack Snyder
I know we just made a snarky comment about films made in Canada to look like the “Midwestern” US (or anywhere in the US) but this picture is kind of the exception. Plus, Sarah Polley rocks in it. And as far as remakes go, it’s pretty damn good.


Let The Right One In

Here’s my conundrum: I am the wrong person to try and point out the best or the worst in terms of vampire  films. Let me get a confession off my chest right now: scary movies frighten the bajeezus out of me. I gasped so many times in the theater while watching 30 Days of Night that my friends were visibly embarrassed by me. So, I consulted another expert in this area to school me in the vampire vs. zombie movie ‘best of’ lists. Here, in no particular order are  The Undeath Match’s 10 Best Vampire Films.

Martin (1977) directed by George A Romero
A creepy, gross and strangely sweet vampire tale. Lots of blood and flowing white shirts. It’s a really disturbing and beautiful (yet not disturbingly beautiful) film.

Let the Right One In (2008) directed by Tomas Alfredson
Oskar, a terrifically awkward twelve-year-old, befriends the new girl in his apartment complex. Set in the dead of winter in Sweden, this stark, shockingly heartwarming, story slowly reveals Eli’s true nature.

Near Dark (1987) directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Good, old country boy Caleb picks up Mae, who then bites him by accident (in a fit of misguided passion, natch). Soon, Caleb’s feeling terribly unwell. Before he can even start to feel better, he’s abducted by Mae’s “people.” The film plays with the Dickensian notion of families formed of disparate folk and that any of us is worthy of redemption. It’s also the hey day of vampires with punky haircuts and trench coats, although not gelled hair. That was more Lost Boys, which we’ve left off the list.

Fright Night (1985) directed by Tom Holland
Roddy McDowall as vampire hunter and Chris Sarandon as the vampire/neighbour is a winning combination. A lovely mix of pop culture and playing with and against the genre. Horror film tropes are discussed and on display then mocked (sort of). Also, the scene of Roddy McDowall holding a crucifix in front of vampire Chris Sarandon and vampire crushing the crucifix with his handing saying, ‘You have to have faith for this to work’ kind of sticks with you.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui
The original film doesn’t have the cache of the long-running, beloved and asskickingly awesome TV series, but it definitely has its moments. David Arquette floating outside the sliding glass window saying, “you’ve got to let me in man,” or something like that, toes the line between utterly creepy and oddly funny in that pop culture-esque only Joss Whedon does so well.

Nosferatu (1922) directed by F. W. Murnau
C’mon, this one is obvious! Rotten Tomatoes (linked above) has this as it’s #1 reviewed vampire film, and for good reason.

Nosferatu (1979) directed by Werner Herzog
Doubly so! Same movie (as above) but very different.

NOTE: Honorable mention goes to Shadow of the Vampire (2000), which is a meta-kind of film about the making of Nosferatu (1922) where the main character takes himself just a little bit too seriously. Willem Dafoe is wicked in this film.

Les vampires (1915) directed by Louis Feuillade
French movie serial. Lots of sexy lady vampires in Isadore Duncan-esque outfits. The lead character’s name is Irma Vep. Anagram that!

Vampire’s Kiss (1988) directed by Robert Bierman
Back when Nicholas Cage was good and Jennifer Beals wasn’t.

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001) directed by Lee Demarbre
If anyone has seen all of the above, and any other brand of low-budget horror and action, well, how could you not like this fine example of Canadian cinema?

So what have we missed and what have we gotten all wrong? Holler back if you completely disagree with us. We’ll continue with the best 10 zombie movies tomorrow.

Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later

Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later

Our final review/conversation of movies in the Undeath Match genre: Danny Boyle’s awesome 28 Days Later. Following the discussion between Dan and I you’ll find a note from my friend Kathleen, who knows more about film than any other person I know. She weighs in on our categorical mistake of calling this a “zombie” movie. Clearly, the two of us are seriously unqualified in terms of our ability to defend our positions. Where’s Jim when you need him? I’m sure he’d set us straight.

Let’s just open our discussion about 28 Days Later by stating the obvious: it’s a really fucking good film. Sorry, was this supposed to be PG? I’ll rephrase: it’s farking good film. Did you feel the same way?


There’s so much to like about this movie: Danny Boyle’s direction, the shocking way it opens (regardless of the non-realistic way that Cillian Murphy wakes up from his coma.

(No offense but he wouldn’t just be pulling IVs out of his arm… if you get my drift, and he would have been suffering from far more severe infections if they would have just been left dry… but anyway, it’s not meant to be totally realistic, right, it’s still a movie.)

Anyway, the freaky nature of the infected brings me to my first point: the debate that arises around whether or not we can convincingly call them zombies. I say yes. But I know many would disagree with me. What do you think?

One thing I will say, though, was the Lord of the Flies-type subplot that involves the soldiers is slightly less convincing and way more Hollywood than the rest of the picture. It might be the only section of the film I could convincingly critique. For me, when the movie took that turn it became less about Jim et al‘s struggle to survive and the very traditional man vs. man stuff that tends to happen whenever people are put in situations that challenge their traditional and comfortable modern-day lives.

I agree that this is definitely a zombie movie, even though they aren’t technically dead. People infected by the virus are no longer human and — as we’ve discussed before — if it looks like a zombie and wants to eat your face: it’s a zombie, (or a really bad date).

Anyway, it is a great film. It’s still amazingly creepy to see London so empty. I mean it’s NEVER like that, so it’s very disconcerting — very simple and very cleverly done.

And I think what makes this film creepy overall is that IT IS all kind of believable as far as zombie apocalypses go you know? I mean I didn’t really have a problem with the soldier subplot. Christopher Eccleston is suitably bonkers. And I seem to remember there’s a survivalist community locked away (and crazy) in a country house in Day of the Triffids too, so I wonder if that’s where that comes from?

How do feel about Cillian Murphy?

I think Cillian Murphy is amazingly talented (also, HOT). He can move from The Wind That Shakes The Barley to the Batman films, and then play a transvestite, and it’s all totally believable. He’s got one of those actor-ly faces that’s pretty enough to look good on the big screen but has enough talent to really pull out a great performance.

Was the idea of him being a bike courier and then an amazing survival-slash-apocalyptic hero all that convincing? Maybe not, but the film on the whole remains convincing. Each time he survives, maybe he feels a little more confident he actually deserves to do so and isn’t just sticking around because the script says so. Does that make sense? But my favourite character in the film has to be Brendan Gleeson’s Frank. His survival isn’t necessarily just about him — it’s all about his daughter.

I’ve never read Day of the Triffids so I can’t compare. But I would call the infected zombies. I mean they go way beyond a bad date and the change happens after you’re dead [note: they are technically NOT dead as I’ve since discovered] right? Plus, they’re unrecognizable as themselves once the change occurs. But how much slack will we get from calling them zombies from the purists out there? It’s also a little muddled because it’s a “rage” disease that’s transferred through the blood — and that’s kind of vampiric, isn’t it?

There’s something about Cillian Murphy I find a little sinister. It’s those super-blue eyes I think…. Or maybe that’s just the roles he’s played in other movies? That said, I thought he was great as Scarecrow in the Batman movies and I actually thought he was quite believable in 28 Days Later as “just some guy” who accidentally survives. He certainly looks rangy enough (and crazy enough?) to be a bike courier in London!

I think I’m just showing my age and my substandard English education harping on about Day of the Triffids — I’m pretty sure we had to read it at school. Or maybe it was the The Chrysalids, another post-apocalyptic sci-fi by John Wyndham? Anyway, in Day of the Triffids, almost everyone is blinded watching a spectacular meteor shower except the few people — including the hero who was in hospital with bandages over his eyes — who just missed it for some reason. Needless to say, everything goes to shit, and the people who can still see struggle to rebuild society while fighting these crazy walking flesh-eating plants called triffids!

So 28 Days Later is kind of similar only with zombies.

As a general rule I’d say that wobbly plants are a lot less scary than zombies, but there was a BBC TV series based on the books that terrified the shit out of me when I was little. It was kind of mind-blowing to my 8-year-old brain. The triffids made this weird rattling/clacking noise… creepy!

But back to 28 Days Later zombie debate. They’re definitely zombies to me. I think there’s kind of a history of “toxic zombies” who have been changed by radiation, or some virus or bio-hazard. I mean the zombies in the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z are created by the virus Solanum right? Although maybe they are the undead reanimated by the virus? I’m sure someone will tell us…

So I think 28 Days Later is probably my favourite of the movies we’ve watched so far. And I’m not just saying that because it’s a zombie movie. What say you?

Day of the Triffids sounds kind of like Blindness by Saramago (minus the meteor shower part). Anyway, there was a crazy miniseries that aired here in Canada about nuclear war that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of. It terrified my brother and I, like he slept with the lights on terrified, for WEEKS. But that sense of abandon, that sense of the entire human race being evaporated except for a few survivors, is one of the reasons why the film is so great (you mentioned that a few paragraphs ago). And I think that’s why I truly found that the first half of the film was so effective. The zombies are scary, sure, and like you I do think they are zombies, but I think that science or speculative fiction (if that makes sense) is always better when it’s just slightly to the side of reality.

Did you see Children of Men? That film terrified me because it felt so real; it felt exactly like something that COULD happen at any point in the future. Films like 28 Days Later do the same; they’re not straight up horror or straight up action, but something a little more intelligent even. I agree entirely, it’s an honest to goodness great film — nothing guilty about the pleasure in watching it; it’s just good solid storytelling and fine acting. And yes, there’s something deliciously sinister about Cillian Murphy, but it works so well in this picture in the second act.

What would you give it out of 10?

Triffids isn’t quite as glum (or allegorical) as Blindness, but there are definitely some similarities. But I thought that 28 Days Later owed something to Blindness as well come to that…

I used to hand-sell the shit out of Blindness when I worked at Pages…couldn’t bring myself to watch the movie adaptation though. Sigh. AND I loved Children of Men. It felt all too believable and was all the more chilling as a consequence. Clive Owen is great in that movie.

ANYWAY, I think 28 Days Later is a solid 8.3 for me. How about you?

Okay, so 28 Days Later. Yes, I’d agree 8.3, a solid A.

Added-value commentary from Kathleen, who later convinced me that the infected in 28 Days Later are indeed NOT zombies:

In my opinion, the thing that makes zombies scary is that the zombies don’t have a plan, a mission or a higher need other than eating flesh. They are primal killing machines (much like people used to think of sharks before ‘shark week’). It is the encroaching wall and the increase in numbers — every time someone dies, they will rise — that makes it feel unstoppable. It is the plague coming through before they figured out the whole rat thing.

For 28 Days Later (as opposed to 28 Days, of course), they have an active and aggressive purpose. Their rage propels them forward and it enables them to have a plan and work as a team. (Zombies arrive in huge numbers but they are not team players. Their actions are exactly the same whether on their own or in a large group. And just so you know, I purposefully avoided the word ‘mob’ as that implies a group mentality of sorts.) Also, the folks with the rage virus are still living and still human so they die if they do not receive sustenance. We see this at the end with the soldier tied up and starving to death. His body will give out and he will die. He will die and he will not rise again. The ‘ragers’, for lack of a better title, will die for the same reason that any other human will die. A zombie could be disemboweled and only have torso, one arm and a head and they will still come at you looking for a feast. The rager will not. He will be dead. The end.

Before 28 Days Later becomes the video game [note: the section of the film that deals with the soldiers], it follows the same model as zombie films with disparate people coming together (as does Dickens’ novels and Wes Anderson’s films. It’s a good motif and I’m very fond of it). What I like about the argument with 28 Days Later is that the ethical questions of killing humans vs. finding a cure vs. finding other options is given a very ‘at war’ or ‘under siege’ response. It is very different when it is zombies. Although I understand that it is hard to destroy a zombie loved one, you are still destroying a zombie and not a person. 28 Days Later felt (and okay, maybe I’m pushing this too far) like a comment on civil war and that’s why I think it is misleading to call it a zombie invasion film.

Clearly, I’ve thought about this far too much.

Nope, Kathleen, you’ve got it just about right.

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