His latest blog post reveals some of the frustrations faced when creating a comic where the characters weren’t available for in game screen captures and what he would have done if given the opportunity.
Left 4 Dumb captured some of the quintessential flaws in the writing and level design of Left 4 Dead and expressed them in a comic manner so that even those who haven’t played the game would get why they were funny.
If you’ve not read them I recommend that you go back through a few starting here. I’ll leave you with one of my favourites.
Zombie Apocalypse was one of our first ever give-aways here as Ryan Thomson (director) sent Zombie Command some DVDs to run a competition. Since then they’ve released a comic book and Zombie Panic map for theSource engine on PC.
I should have written this review up last month after the interview but have only now got around to it (sorry Ryan). They’ve also started a Twitter account @ZombieApoc.
The film opens by throwing you into the deep end with a scene that’s later revealed to be between 2 agents of a shadowy organisation. One of the protagonists, Miller (Kenny James), is handcuffed and at the mercy of Agent Net who proceeds to unleash zombies to finish him off. Miller escapes but the zombies get out turning the once peaceful town into your worst undead nightmare.
Cutting to the other characters, Mark (Michael Empson) is despondant at his girlfriend cheating on him by a freshman named Kevin and persuades Tom (Michael Harthen) to head to the pub for 10 cent beers, despite Tom having mid-terms on the Monday.
The final main character we’re introduced to is Raven (Kelly Knoll), who gets fired from her job at a video store and heads to the same pub the boys are. Coming up with a believable set of circumstances where all these characters meet we’re then thrown into a survival situation as zombies attack from every angle.
As the group escape town they hear the offer of a safe haven on the radio and head towards it only to have to make a desperate stand against the undead horde as Agent Net closes in and tries to sabotage their hopes of escape!
While the story itself is fairly standard within the genre, indeed homages to many famous zombie films litter the scenes, it’s approached with a level of humour that propels the film along without it seeming too cliched as if everyone is playing along and knows exactly what their role is. There’s enough back-story alluded to with the agency that makes the film seem bigger than it’s $5,000 budget would suggest and looking past some of the dodgier effects you’re left with a film created by people that know their craft.
The first thing to mention would be the sound. During the interview with Ryan we discussed the music and that they were trying to capture the John Carpenter feel. About 10 seconds into it my flatmate comes out with “Oh my god, it’s like a soundtrack from the 80’s!” – We say mission accomplished Mr. Thompson.
It also becomes apparant that this isn’t the first movie Thompson’s directed with carefully planned out shots panning across well positioned items and cast. If we look beyond the budget (which is the only way to enjoy indie films) then it’s very clear that he knows what he’s doing when trying to tell a story.
The writing deserves to be commented upon, though it is sometimes hit and miss. A couple of times during the film the characters would go back to something mentioned before and would tie in a reason why it was important. That said some of the lines delivered were a little ridiculous but the over the top nature of the line and the delivery simply added to feeling that it was played, in part, for laughs.
Zombie Apocalypse (movie and comic) is available to buy now with free US shipping and Ryan’s already confirmed a sequel is in the works; this time it has boobs!
This first crossed Zombie Command’s radar when it was released in the UK last month. We’ve avoided seeing it so far as we weren’t sure what to expect and it has been picking up mixed reviews but with the discovery of a trailer confirming that it’s not horribly expoitative we might pick it up and see what it’s about.
When teenage misfits Rickie and JT cut school one day, they find themselves in the derelict remains of an abandoned hospital. The gruesome, unnerving discovery they make in the bowels of the facility will test the very limits of their sanity: a woman, naked, chained and covered in plastic. She’s abandoned, she’s beuatiful, she’s dead… or is she?
For those of you not familiar with the novels, Autumn began it’s life as an ebook by David Moody and was available free online for almost 6 years, during which time it was downloaded almost 500,000 times. Unfortunately for you, if the first of you hearing about it is because of the movie, it’s no longer available online but is available to buy in print.
Renegade Motion Pictures have produced the adaptation of Autumn the movie and despite being low budget managed to secure a couple of big budget actors in the form of David Carradine (Kill Bill 1&2, The Serpent’s Egg) and Dexter Fletcher(Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Stardust). It would be remiss of me not to note that this will be the first film of Carradine’s since his passing, though others are in post-production and the world of cinema and tv is a lesser place without him, RIP.
In a spot of controversy Renegade have been forced to release screeners early as illegally released, unfinished version has found it’s way onto the web and Zombie Command have been lucky enough to get a copy of it.
Autumn kills 99.9% of the population in the opening minutes we’re soon left with the remnants of society struggling to come to terms with what has happened. A brief time after the survivors come together in the middle of town the dead begin to rise from where they fell but, unlike traditional zombies, these undead aren’t determined to kill the living. Instead these docile creatures will wander in whatever path they’re pointed in until they find an obstacle they can’t overcome and then turn and walk in a different direction.
Indeed, as per the book, the word zombie is never mentioned and early on it sets the stage for the real danger to be disease and the survivors that remain. After discussing the various ways to progress (stay in a group, split off) the main protagonist, Michael (Dexter Fletcher), sets off with a few others to find a place far away from the cities to start a new life.
Conflict arises again when those who want to rule the new world split up from those who want to build a better one and finally Michael, Carl (Dickon Tolson) and Emma (Lana Kamenov) settle into a farm to create their new life but, as we all know, there are no happily ever afters and the zombies start to regain their senses and their instinct to hunt.
With no immediate danger for much of the movie, Autumn is free to explore the characters but it’s unfortunate that there’s little consistent motivation for each, often with characters seemingly suffering from intermittent explosive disorder and bipolar tendencies.
Secondary characters are introduced and discarded with little relevance to the main story and you’ve long forgotten the ones that are revisited so that you’re never quite sure if they are the same people as before.
The lack of immediacy also seems to have rubbed off on the director and editor with lingering shots (one time stretch edit was ridiculous) and the addition of random scenes that could have easily been cut to bring the running time down to a more manageable 90 minutes.
For a budget indie flick I quite liked the subdued effects of the zombies as they slowly rotted away and while never matching the modern zombie movies for out and out gore it never really needed to.
Ultimately though from, what I presume, is sticking too closely to the book the movie suffers from confusing the viewer with incidental shots, unannounced dream sequences, rapid scene changes (soundtrack was un-mastered so J Cuts may help lessen the jarring effect) and a lack of focus on the main characters.
If you want to see it for yourself, Autumn The Movie will have a limited theatre release and be available on DVD later this year. Find out more over on the official site or follow them on Twitter.
We’re a sucker for a good board game and apart from Zombies!!! and Twilight Creations’ stuff there aren’t many zombie board games. Zombie State is a viral game of global proportions for 2-5 players ages 13 and up.
Firebongo!’s handcrafted, plush, undead, snugglers are only the beginning of the ZOM plague. Bring the epidemic to your hometown. But be warned: ZOMs will steal your heart along with a few other choice body parts.