Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Vincent Dawn ... Of The Dead II

Zombies: The Beginning

‘‘ I heard that there’s a problem on an island, and they called us !’’
When the dead rise up and one amongst them shall lead, who shall stand against them in deterrence of a new species of Zombie existence !?. The U.S. Naval Marine Corps that’s who, themselves raised on red meat and highly able to chew chunks out of any enemy standing in their wake. There has been no transitional wake for this army of the un-dead though, no last rights, and any piece of ground set aside for a final resting place surely has a vacancy sign crossed out in blood !. This then is the stage set for Zombie Armageddon, as the next generation of flesh eating fiends strive to leave The Island Of The Living Dead (2006) and rise up their brethren for global domination !. Send in the marines, and someone get hold of that girl who survived come the end of the first movie. They’re gonna need her for this sequel, because Director Bruno Mattei is back for one final feast for all with his super schlock-buster Zombies: The Beginning.
Adrift at sea on the man made raft, swiftly put together to escape the island at the end of this Zombie prequel, Sharon is rescued by the coast guard. Rushed to the Middle East Asia General Hospital by helicopter, exhausted from her traumatic experience she spends a week in an unconscious state, relieving the gruesome events that befell her and her crew mates through recurrent nightmares. One terrifying vision sees her turned into a flesh eating creature herself, and graphically ripping out the throat of a nurse attending her bedside. A mere entrée for the carnage to come.

Sharon’s employers, The Tyler Incorporated Company, want answers and solid proof of what happened to her team of treasure hunters, and their insurance company wont pay out on the destroyed salvage ship without a sound reason for its destruction. Tyler Inc want her to return to the island with another team to gather substantiated proof of her unbelievable tale of events. Sharon has no intention of going back and drops out of society, choosing instead to take solitude in a monastery. She spends the next six months in the Wai Sung Temple, but her nightmares still visit her with great regularity. The Tyler Incorporation come looking for her again, having sent a team of experts to the island and successfully set up a base of operations, only to then loose all contact with them !. They need Sharon as a consultant biologist to send in with a crack team of navy seals, and a shady scientific representative of their own named Barker. Sharon still wants nothing to do with a return trip to dead central, but with her nightmarish dreams unabated she knows that the only way to end the nightmares is to face up to them, and so she finally agrees to undertake the trip back to the island where it all began.

Bruno Mattei gets to rework his own movie Shocking Dark (1990), itself a bizarrely brilliant hybrid rip of equal parts Aliens (1986) and The Terminator (1984). Arriving under cover of dark at the island by submarine, and beaching by motorised dingy, the marine corps with Sharon and Barker hit the shore with their wits about them. Not far in land they arrive at the Tyler Incorporated Company base camp. It is desolate, and no sign of life. Incredibly though, stretching out before them, is a vast industrial estate. A multi million dollar installation constructed in just six months !?. Suspend all disbelief at this point as either, completely unexplained in the movie, the Tyler Corp have known about the island for longer than they have let on and built this vast installation secretly on the other side of the main island, or the writers have been watching recent episodes of TV’s Lost, and decided to throw in their own time displacement mumbo jumbo. If Doctor Jack Shephard turns up, and Hurley is responsible for raising the dead because of a formula relating to his winning lotto numbers, then maybe an appearance by Sayid, arriving to shoot them all, wont be such a bad thing !.

Armed to the hilt, and kitted out on their wrists with motion detectors, the marines break into the sealed complex. There are immediate signs of a struggle. Further in they discover ghastly experimentation's upon decomposed bodies, and a collection of baby foetus’ contained within glass jars !. Female company representatives lay in an almost unrecognisable state upon steel gurneys, each seemingly with a foetus ripped out of their bellies in violent fashion. The results of these abominable experiments awaits them all !.
The unit is suddenly attacked by a gene mutated hybrid mini Zombie, a grossly deformed freaky little fella with a determination to maim. Is this evil urchin the resultant cross fertilization of human and the un-dead !?. Whatever it is soon becomes a moot point as the crazed creature is besieged with a gauntlet of firepower, rendering it in a bloody pulp that even a Jack Delane power juicer could not squeeze another drop out of !.
The immediate job at hand is to find any sign of recognisable life. Every member of the Tyler Incorporation has a surgically applied tattoo etched on to their arms, transmitters and personal data coding. A perturbed Captain Jurgens, heading up the navy seals team, raises the serious issue of the application being a procedure that the Nazi S.S. used. Barker nonchalantly agrees, but insists that it enables the location of their people within the vast complex. Sure enough signs of survivors do show up on the tracking device, but they each appear in a dispersed fashion. To seek them out the marines have to go beyond the base camp facility and into the nearby main complex, it is there that the perimeter motion sensors they have go haywire !.

The commandos are dropped off at the main instillation by a fortified MPV. As they explosively gain entry through the steel door, posted bio hazardous !. Sharon, Captain Jurgens and Barker stay within the vehicle, viewing the units incursion via on board monitors. From here on in things get freakier and bloodier in equal large measure, as the startling truth behind what has gone on ghoulishly unravels. Genetic experimentation between human and Zombie cellular structure with the purpose of creating a new race !.

Deep within the main Tyler Inc complex the commandos find themselves caught up in the mix of Zombie activity and are set upon from all fronts by the ravenous creatures. Witnessing first hand the explosive birth of a mutant Zombie baby, tearing itself out of the womb of a still conscious, and severely distressed mother host, they fire up the flamethrower and incinerate any future hope the newborn has of ever becoming a terror-way. Captain Jurgens and Sharon, along with a fixated Barker, can only watch in horror as the soldiers are besieged by an ever increasing number of the un-dead. They are ordered to make a retreat and hastily back track to where they came in, as Sharon takes charge of the MPV and races to their aid. Together all that survive make a hasty return back to the base camp and stockade themselves in, but communications with the submarine are down. It’s up to the fearless female navy commando to venture back outside and realign the satellite receiver on the island tower mast. Time is of the essence, but what lingers outside is a larger developed strain of creature that can’t wait to get its claws into some fresh meat !.

The situation gets progressively worse as the facility is compromised both from without and within !. The Tyler Incorporation wants Barker to bring a live sample back to the mainland at any cost, even to the final detriment of those that accompanied him to the island. It’s a fight for survival all round as the Zombies overrun the place.

In a rewarding rerun of the first movie Sharon kits up to clean house at Zombie HQ. She escapes base camp and heads back into corpse central, where our heroine uncovers far more than she bargains for. It’s a creche for mutant killer kids with Zombie cone heads !. Dan Ackroyd’s not responsible for this turkey shoot, and these creepy critters don’t need a baby sitter, so when Sharon comes calling they sense her presence and the threat to their existence. She has stumbled into the gruesome breeding ground and birthing pool for the next wave of genetic abominations. Not so far removed from the ending to Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination (1980) this is a great indoor set, suitably garish and gaudily lit to accentuate the scene perfectly. Face to face with an overseeing creator, that would not be out of place in an episode of Dr. Who, Sharon squares up to her greatest threat for survival. Time then for her to introduce a deadly pacifier, and for the monstrosities to say hello to her little friend, Mr. Flamethrower !. It’s flame on to fricassee the new wave Partridge Family before they get on the bus to the outside world. A flame-tastic finale with an explosive conclusion.

Bruno’s bow out to ‘B’ movie brilliance is as wild and wondrously stupefying as ever. How befitting that one of Italian cinema’s most prolific entertainers should leave us with such a prophetically titled movie, Zombies: The Beginning. Sadly, The End.

For Bruno 30th July 1931 - 21st May 2007
Review: Paul Cooke / Source Japanese DVD
Zombies: The Beginning (2007)
Director Vincent Dawn aka Bruno Mattei
Starring Yvette Yzon, Alvin Anson, Paul Holme,
James Gregory Palely & Robert B. Johnson

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