Anchor Bay // 2012 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // June 24th, 2013
Kicking ass and eating brains
More than any other monster, the zombie is special for not being special. Unlike vampires, werewolves, or even ghosts, there's no selection process -- when the zombie apocalypse comes, pretty much everyone becomes a zombie. Sure, films play with "Who will turn?" stories, but in general, the zombie plague is much less discriminating than the average vampire or werewolf. More importantly, other monsters have their origins tied to their ends -- kill the head vampire to wipe out vampirism in his/her line, for instance -- whereas zombies are egalitarian: shoot the head, kill the zombie almost without exception. I think this is part of the reason that the zombie film is one of the most popular choices for low-budget horror filmmakers. Anyone with a few friends can slap on some cheap makeup and concoct a zombie narrative. Because zombies are the everyperson's monster, viewers want to see a zombie film succeeds. That makes it doubly depressing when an undead feature like The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse doesn't live up to its potential.
John Romero is a zombie, and like all the zombies who rise at the beginning of The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse, he wants brains. He wants them so badly that he kills his wife and daughter. Only when he hears the horrified cries of his son, Taylor, does he wake up to the fact that he's a zombie. Though he's not as sharp as he was when he was alive, he does what he can to protect his son.
I love comics and I love movies. However, when the two meet, it can be disastrous. Comics are, by nature, serial narratives that can dole out plots in small chunks. Movies, in contrast, have to get it all together in 90 or so minutes. The best comic adaptations either take comic elements and tell a single, coherent story (Marvel's The Avengers) or they adapt the serial narrative in smaller chunks (The Walking Dead). What does not work is taking a handful of comic book issues and fusing just enough of them to make a film.
I don't know if that's what happened with The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse, but I can say that the film is based on an underground comic of some esteem (at least among fans of both zombies and comics who read something other than The Walking Dead). I can also say that that The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse feels like someone took three issues of a comic book and shoved them together to make a single story. The first story is mostly an origin tale for the Living Corpse, the second is a story of his defense of his son from demons, and the third is about their eventual team-up later to stop an evil mad scientist bent on creating zombie super-soldiers. As individual episodes of an ongoing narrative, I can see how these might make appealing stories. As they are, the trio doesn't do enough to establish character and build to the kind of satisfaction that we expect from feature-length narrative.
I'm not sure how viewers will react to the look of The Amazing
Adventures. The visuals look like cut scenes from a cartoonish but
well-rendered video game. For me they set the film apart from other low budget
zombie offerings, but they're not always pleasant to look at. With that said,
they look pretty good on The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse
(Blu-ray). The 1.78:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer does a fine job
representing the digital elements. Since everything is computer-generated,
there's no room for problems with the source, which means detail stays high
throughout. Colors are limited to a select palate but that's intentional. No
compression artefacts or other digital problems crop up. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1
track is similarly strong. Dialogue is clean and clear from the front (with
English SDH subtitles for the more heavily processed voices).
Sadly, there are no extras. This is exactly the kind of cult release that benefits from tons of creative input. It gives fans more incentive to buy and helps introduce newbies to the world of the stories more easily. A commentary would be really great with this release to help explain some of the decisions with adaptation.
The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse is a swing and a miss. I don't know how hardcore fans of the comics will react to this adaptation, but for most viewers the story isn't coherent enough to justify the low-tech animation. Hardcore zombie completists will seek this disc out, but everyone else can safely skip it.
Guilty. This one should've stayed in the grave.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R