Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cowboys and Zombies and Green Blood Spray: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a screener of this film was provided by Left Films.

Director/writer: Rene Perez.

Cowboys and Zombies is being released in the United Kingdom August 1st on DVD. The film's title may or may not be a way to capitalize on the looming success of Cowboys and Aliens, which releases near the same date. In North America, this title is called the more unique, but less fun The Dead and the Damned and the film will release in this territory July 26th on DVD. This is an independent film from director Rene Perez, who also directed the upcoming War Machine. Set in the 19th Century, a meteorite crashes the party in a small western town. Zombies takeover, while a bounty hunter searches for a wild apache "indian" (Cowboys) to earn a plentiful bounty. Overall, this is a strangely enjoyable time from a gifted first time director.

David A. Lockhart plays a troubled Mortimer. He is a bounty hunter and a man on a mission. His dishonourable pugilistic strategies and the humiliation of a young woman puts him in anti-hero territory. However behaviour problems are the least of his worries, when a local town is overwhelmed by a zombie creating meteor. Glowing green, this meteor spews forth a type of spore. This spore is inhaled by the local swindlers, prospectors and harlots, until a whole town is turned into blood-thirsty zombies. Maybe these characters are better off. Anyways, this set-up is a lot more interesting than the description here and the make-up effects from
Ed Martinez and Jeff Wehenkel are something truly other-wordly.

Mortimer knows nothing of the town's change, as he is focused on apprehending Brother Wolf (Rick Mora). Wolf is wanted for the violation of a local woman; yet, his guilt comes into question, when Mortimer and Wolf bond under dangerous circumstances. Another bounty hunter (Robert Amstler) makes Mortimer's payday a little more complicated. Then some of the best action sequences in indie film take place, as Mortimer and the German run and gun through a zombie infested forest. Perez proves to be a quick study with the camera and the initial battles are very exhilarating to watch. Events work in Mortimer's favour and soon Brother Wolf is brought back to town. But, by now, we know that the citizens have changed into something truly horrific.

Have you ever seen a gunfight with zombies? If you said no, then you need to see this one. The action of the final act is enhanced by CGI enhanced graphics. Green and black blood sprays everywhere. Everything looks believable, even the blind and scalped zombie, who chases after Rhiannon (Camille Montgomery); Rhiannon is an unwitting accomplice to Mortimer's bounty hunting ways. The film moves into full swing by the final few minutes and before you know it, the film is, regrettably, already over. Yet, a few flaws take away some of the enjoyment from this film.

Some scenes are strangely sped up. This is a directing technique rarely seen by this reviewer, but sparsely used in Cowboys and Zombies. As well, some of the audio is poor early and certain sequences do not synchronize. Finally, Mora's Apache lacks any accent at all and his character seems like he stepped out of 2011 and into the 19th Century. This breaks the veil of believability. These minor criticisms hamper the enjoyment of the film only mildly. On the plus side, Cowboys and Zombies is, simply, a fun romp through a time period that is given a refreshing look here. Definitely give this film a spin, when it releases in only a few weeks.

Settings/realism/importance: 8 (the settings look great and realistic).
Characters/individual characterization: 7.5 (sadly only Lockhart tries any sort of western accent).
Plot/story/subject/unity: 8 (begins with two parallel stories which converge, enjoyed the imaginitive take on the classic western).

Overall: 7.75 (a really fun film).

More details on this film can be found at the Cowboys and Zombies official website:

The Cowboys and Zombies' Homepage

A second review of Cowboys and Zombies at MJ Simpson by guess who (MJ Simpson):

Cowboys and Zombies Reviewed at MJ Simpson

Available on DVD in North America July 26th as The Dead and the Damned:

Or in the United Kingdom August 1st on DVD as Cowboys and Zombies:

Cowboys and Zombies at Amazon (DVD)

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