28 April 2009

ZOMBIES JOIN THE MILE HIGH CLUB IN PLANE DEAD


Here is a pretty good and entertaining zombie movie that mixes in elements of old disaster films as well. A sort of Airport with George Romero as the pilot. The copy I picked up is called Plane Dead but the bulk of the reviews I skimmed on the net calls it Flight of the Living Dead and I will assume that is a marketing ploy and it is unfortunate. Calling it FOTLD gives it the feeling of being a spoof of zombie movies in the way that the excellent Shawn of the Dead was. However this a good little stand alone film and does not need to exploit Night of the Living Dead to develop a following. I found and edited an image of the Korean version of the film poster and thought it looked cooler than the regular poster I have been seeing online. There are a lot of really low quality Zombie movies coming out lately trying to capitalize on the much welcome zombie revival that bigger films (28 Weeks Later for example) have helped to bring about. Plane Dead falls in the middle as a fun and exciting ride while having neither the budget and talent of films like Land of the Dead or the Dawn of Dead remake, but not falling into the low budget morass of so many zombie movies I have seen recently. Not to say the movie lacks problems, it has more than a few, but it's a fun movie and the glitches can be overlooked.
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The movie contains all the elements of a good zombie movie and does a good job of using the disaster movie formula as the vehicle to work from. There are all the stock disaster film characters we are introduced to one by one as the movie develops: the pilot on his last flight before retirement, the sexually frustrated and morally flexible teenagers on holiday, the cop and his prisoner, the love hungry nest of flight attendants, the couple with marital problems that we know will be resolved by the films end and there is even a studious and quiet nun who gets "converted" eventually. And for the zombie part of the formula there is the group of greedy scientists who have learned to reanimate dead tissue (using a rare mosquito from Vietnam with a 100% mortality rate, with death occurring within seconds!) and the US military who will stop at nothing to contain the virus, including blowing the plane out of the sky. The virus is being transported in the cargo hold under armed guard. Problem is that the virus is "contained" inside one of the high-strung doctor's wives and since there is a raging thunder storm the plane must navigate through it is only a matter of time before turbulence shakes her loose from her refrigerated cell and she escapes and starts biting people and spreading the virus among the passengers.
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There are no surprises in the film really after the action takes off and you simply must allow suspension of disbelief to take over to accept what is happening. People go one by one in the cargo hold to check on possible damage and to search for the escaped con-artist prisoner and of course in the process unwittingly spread the contagion more and more. The zombies escape into the plane via the air shafts and soon there is plenty of blood and mayhem and bullets of various calibers going off in the jumbo jet and into the craniums of flesh eating zombies. If there were a serious criticism I had it would be that the zombie deaths and killings lack imagination really, except in one or two instances (check out the umbrella death). The zombies are killed off quickly with bullets and the scenes where a passenger is bitten happens really fast. A really good zombie movie will create outlandish and sometimes even comical death situations for the living dead to go down for a second time by. Another problem situation is that they are on a plane and the action is all contained there and after a while there is not much new to expect.

Zombie movies normally always contain an element of claustrophobia and the normal people on the inside are trying to keep them, the living dead, on the outside while dealing with each other's fears and issues. Here the zombies are already inside and there is no outside. The zombies sort of just keep popping from behind a seat and get shot in the head and it feels like one of those arcade video games after a while. The acting is not bad really and for this type of movie the effects are above average and there is plenty of blood spatter that looks like the type from Dawn of the Dead (remake) and 28 Days Later. The zombies are all fast and pissed off but they go down easy and stay down. So if you go into this as an open minded zombie movie fan (and aren't zombie fans usually the most open minded people you know anyway?) you will not be disappointed despite the flaws.
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