DNDF: Eco-Zombies

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

DNDF: Eco-Zombies

And so it was written, for I went unto IMDB and offered up a sacrifice to the divine search engine and in the keyword search field I entered ecological horror. 

Ecology - the branch of biology dealing with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment, including other organisms.  Zombie - the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.  Eco-zombie – a type of horror movie sub-genre that deals with a horde of undead that usually masks a message of “don’t screw with the environment.”

The Grapes of Death (1978)

  • Original Title: Les Raisins de la Mort
  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed: Jean Rollin
  • Produced:
    • Jean-Marie Ghanassia 
    • Claude Guedj 
    • Christian Ruh
  • Written:
    • Jean-Pierre Bouyxou 
    • Christian Meunier 
    • Jean Rollin
  • Starring: Marie-Georges Pascal, Félix Marten, Serge Marquand, Mirella Rancelot, Patrice Valota, Patricia Cartier, Michel Herval, Brigitte Lahaie, Paul Bisciglia, Olivier Rollin
  • Music: Philippe Sissman
  • Cinematography: Claude Bécognée
  • Editing:
    • Dominique Saint-Cyr 
    • Christian Stoianovich
  • Studio:
    • Films A.B.C.  
    • Off Production  
    • Rush Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Another World Entertainment  
    • Cinéthèque  
    • Filmfreak Distributie  
    • Redemption Films  
    • Synapse Films
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date:
    • 5 July 1978 (France)
    • 25 April 2002 (US)
  • Running Time: 85 minutes
  • Country: France
  • Language: French

“Les Raisins de La Mort” (English title: The Grapes of Death) is a 1978 French horror film directed by Jean Rollin.  It centers on a young woman who becomes trapped in a village where a dangerous pesticide has turned the residents into zombies.

When a worker at the Roublès winemaking vineyard becomes ill, complaining of a pain in his neck, his boss insists it's a minor injury and tells him to go back to work.

Élizabeth is travelling by train to Roublès to live with her fiancee, the owner of the vineyard.  She makes a friend with a woman on the train.  The worker with the neck pain boards the train and stares at Élizabeth's friend. Élizabeth becomes worried when her new friend excuses herself to visit the restroom and doesn't return for a long time; the man then comes and sits with her.  The man's neck starts to bleed.  Élizabeth escapes him and discovers her friend dead on the restroom floor.

Leaving the train, Élizabeth flees to a nearby village for help.  A man and his daughter are sitting quietly inside a house.  Élizabeth describes to them what happened, and they tell her to rest and recover from her shock. Panicking, she enters the bedroom and discovers a woman whose throat has been cut.  The man's daughter calmly explains that the dead woman is her mother, and that her father killed her because he's become insane. The woman and Élizabeth leave the house, but her father catches them and rips open his daughter's blouse to reveal several wounds.  He has the same wounds; so did the man on the train.  He tells his daughter she will not suffer the way he did and sticks a garden fork into her chest.  Élizabeth flees and takes the man's car.  When he gets in front of it and begs her to kill him, she runs him over and drives off.

Élizabeth travels further into the village to look for help and is approached by a man whose head is covered with the infection.  He smashes his head against the car window until it breaks and Élizabeth shoots him.  She comes across a blind girl named Lucy who is searching for her caregiver, Lucas.  Élizabeth helps her and discovers a lot of dead bodies covered with the infection.  Lucy knows something is wrong but Élizabeth won't tell her so she runs off in search of Lucas.  She eventually finds him, unaware he is infected and insane and he strangles her.  Élizabeth hears her screams and finds her dead and tied up to a door, where Lucas chops off her head.  As the zombies chase her, a woman rescues her.  This woman has been trapped in a house for a few days, so she and Élizabeth try to get out and run, but the woman grabs Élizabeth and gives her to Lucas.  Two men, Paul and Lucien show up and start to kill the zombies.  The woman goes to them for help, so they tell her to wait by their truck.  Élizabeth fights Lucas off and goes to the truck where she and the woman get into a fight, resulting in the woman getting her face burned.  She then blows up the truck.

Élizabeth, Paul and Lucien walk to Roublès and on the way they discover that it was a wine festival on the Sunday before that caused the villagers to turn into zombies.  Once they arrive at Roublès, Paul and Lucien have something to eat while Élizabeth searches for her fiancee.  She finds him and discovers he is infected.  Paul shoots him so Élizabeth shoots Paul and then she shoots Lucien.

The film was originally envisioned as a disaster-themed film, but as the production developed, director Jean Rollin saw the potential for it to be a horror film instead.  The filming locations had extremely cold temperatures and often the makeup effects would start to freeze on the actors, making it difficult for them appear realistic on camera.  According to director Jean Rollin while shooting the nude scene with Brigitte Lahaie the outside temperature was so cold that Lahaie couldn't speak her lines.  Writer Jean-Pierre Bouyxou appears in two different bits: as the one-eyed living dead (with mustache), and as the living dead with a scythe (without mustache).

 

Severed: Forest of the Dead (2005)

  • Original Title: Severed
  • Genre: Horror – Thriller
  • Directed: Carl Bessai
  • Produced:
    • Andrew Boutilier 
    • Cynthia Chapman 
    • Stephen Hegyes 
    • Kirsten Newlands 
    • Shawn Williamson
  • Written:
    • Julian Clarke 
    • Travis McDonald 
    • Carl Bessai
  • Starring: Paul Campbell, Sarah Lind, Julian Christopher, JR Bourne, Michael Teigen, Leanne Adachi, John Reardon, Patrick Gallagher, Hrothgar Mathews, Jerry Wasserman, Sage Brocklebank, Amber Rothwell, Kyle Cassie, Brad Sihvon, Colin Lawrence, Zak Santiago, John Callander, Benjamin Ratner, Alex Zahara
  • Music: Clinton Shorter
  • Cinematography: James Liston
  • Editing: Julian Clarke
  • Studio:
    • Chum Television  
    • Brightlight Pictures  
    • Submission Films  
    • CITY-TV  
    • CanWest Western Independent Producers Fund
    • British Columbia Film  
    • Forest of the Dead Productions Inc.
  • Distributed:
    • Emerald  
    • Forest of the Dead Productions Inc.  
    • I-On New Media  
    • Screen Media Films
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 20 October 2005
  • Running Time: 93 minutes
  • Country: Canada
  • Language: English

Severed: Forest of the Dead is a 2005 Canadian zombie horror film directed by Carl Bessai and set in a remote logging community following an incident where a genetic experiment goes wrong.

In a remote wilderness loggers and environmental activists must join together to survive against zombies resulting from a logging company's genetic experiments in an attempt to increase lumber production which will in theory lead to a 15% increase in profit.  A lumberjack is injured when cutting a tree which has been spiked1 by environmentalists.  He is infected by genetically modified tree sap, which causes him to turn into a zombie.  The survivors attempt to leave the area, but the corporation has set up barriers and snipers in helicopters.  The group are rescued from a sniper attack by second group of loggers, who take them to their compound.  There, tensions rise quickly, and the leader attempts to rape Rita, one of the eco-activists.  Carter, a chemist for the corporation, is bullied mercilessly, as they suspect that he is complicit in the events.  Carter sneaks out of the compound and lets in zombies.  All but Rita die in the ensuing chaos.

Robert Koehler of Variety called the film an ingenious genre film "that should greatly please the hardcore crowd and art house denizens."  Brian McNail from Brutal As Hell called the film "boring and stereotypical", though he stated that the gore and acting were both good.  Daniel Benson of HorrorTalk.com rated it 3.5/5 stars and called it "a fairly enjoyable zombie romp" that lacks originality.  Lee Roberts of Best-Horror-Movies.com rated it 2/5 stars and wrote that the film followed the rules of the zombie genre well but did not actually have zombies in it.  Lee also criticized the film's lack of originality.  Peter Dendle called the film generic and predictable, though he wrote that the fresh setting and uniquely Canadian feel help.

 

Notes:

1. Tree spiking involves hammering a metal rod, nail, or other material (commonly ceramic) into a tree trunk, strategically inserting it at the base of the trunk where a logger might be expected to cut into the tree.  It is a tactic used to discourage logging by creating a mantrap which may injure or kill lumberjacks who attempt to cut down the tree, or mill workers who process the wood.  Tree spiking is also highly effective at sabotaging sawmill equipment. Commonly spikes are placed in areas above the base in order to bypass initial spike inspections.  This form of tree spiking is not intended to harm loggers, it is designed to slow down sawmill production.  Furthermore, the presence of the spike reduces the commercial value of the wood, thereby reducing the economic viability of logging in the long term, while not threatening the life of the tree.

 

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