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Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

I've decided to create a blog for movies that I watch. Just new movies, for the time being. I haven't spent as much time doing it (watching movies) as I have in the past, but am trying my best to sit through a new film every day.

The last film I watched was called Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. It was recommended to me by Netflix, which does this based on films that you rate; the more you rate, the more "accurate" the recommendations. In this case, it hit a bull's-eye, because this movie was great.

So what constitutes great in zombie films? There's plenty of sub-genres. This one was a comedy of sorts (many are) and as it just so happened, it was pretty damn funny. Part of the humor was in the dialogue (with one character in particular being especially hilarious) and also in the visual gags. The action was hyper-choreographed, zany and over the top in a way that I haven't seen in earnest since Peter Jackson's Dead Alive or Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series. It's like watching a really elaborate domino effect machine at play and I, for one, couldn't look away.

There was quite a few digital shots and similar computerized gore effects that have been plaguing zombie films (and other genres) for years. At the same time, there was a good amount of practical gore and make-up effects, as well, which more than made up for it. It wasn't just your typical 12-gauge shotgun to the head. Some of the deaths here were incredibly creative.

But the creativity applied to the writing, as well. The story has something to do with Revelations, from the Bible. Though honestly there is almost no exposition in this film. It's entirely explained in ways that seem appropriate from characters that should be saying these things (one character is a Catholic). I never stopped and thought, "Well, it seems rather convenient that this character knows all of this." At the same time, there were some interesting ideas used here in regards to the zombies themselves that felt rather fresh and inspired. For example, the use of zombie mind control, though never fully explained, was rather fun, turning the zombies into a useful tool instead of something to be afraid of. I don't believe I've ever seen a film successfully do this (in Day of the Dead, the soldier zombie was "friendly" to a degree, but oh-so-clumsy and slow and not exactly under anyone's control). Or flammable zombie blood. Why is it flammable? Who knows? The point is that it makes for some very fun moments in a film that could have very easily been a much more straightforward affair.

Lastly, the fight scene at the end was quite enjoyable simply because the hero avoids the Angry Hero Always Wins trope. I cannot, for the life of me, stand heroes that win simply because the script demands it. Here, the hero does prevail, but he doesn't really win the fight. He basically picks a fight with a professional soldier and gets his ass handed to him. The way that he wins is a combination of luck and quick thinking and it really was the film's biggest surprise because the soldiers in the masks had all been faceless up to this point and could have stayed that way. Instead, we end the film with the best duel I've seen in years. It's unusual for a zombie film to do this but made me like it even more. It worked for Lethal Weapon and Sword of the Stranger. It works here, too.

Obviously this is a genre-film. Most of the jokes will go over people's heads unless you've seen the classics. It's gory and silly but also serious and smart. You could say it runs hot and cold, but I thought it was mostly tongue-and-cheek, and in the best possibly way. It tells you a serious story and then smirks.


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