What exactly makes a zombie-film Romeroesque? At his best, George A. Romero used the zombie as a metaphor for some collective ill on society. Often to bring a social issue to light in the guise of gore and terror involving the undead. There have been other zombie films that use the zombie as a metaphor, such as Fido. Few of these films play the terror straight. Often, those that follow tradition rarely have anything important to say at all. That is not the case with Yeon Sang-ho’s Seoul Station.
What is Seoul Station?
Seoul Station is an animated zombie thriller directed by Yeon Sang-ho. The film serves as a prequel to the live-action South Korean box-office smash Train to Busan. Released in 2016, Seoul Station is a return to the animated from by Sang-ho, who previously directed the animated films The King of Pigs and The Fake.
The film concerns the plight of the homeless community around Seoul Station as a zombie outbreak begins. Amidst the chaos are three individuals, Hye-sun, a former sex-worker, Ki-woong, her lazy boyfriend, and Suk-gyu, who is looking for Hye-sun, his wayward daughter. The social order disintegrates and the police begin cracking down on the homeless, convinced the violence is merely a riot. Suk-gyu and Ki-woong seek out the missing Hye-sun who seeks safety alongside an older homeless man.
Seoul Station stars Ryu Seung-ryongas Suk-gyu, Shim Eun-kyung as Hye-Sun, and Lee Joon as Ki-woong.
What Works about Seoul Station?
The commentary on the treatment of the homeless by the state and society at large is rather blunt but is very much in the vein of the work of George A. Romero. One particularly powerful scene comes when the police have cornered survivors in an alley. The survivors are a mixture of the citizenry who have fled the undead using a makeshift barricade, yet all the police see are the homeless. Anti-riot gear and the militarization of the police force is, of course, taken to its natural end.
The film’s breakout character goes unnamed; The old man who escorts Hye-sun through most of the film is pragmatic, noble, and a deeply sad character. His fate, as expected, is horrific, but his purpose as the representative of the larger failings of society ends up being quite effective.
The film also features a twist that is immensely satisfying. Rather than a cheap reveal, the twist ends up being recognizable upon re-watching as a proper reveal should be. It radically alters the dynamics between the three main characters in a chilling way.
What Didn’t Work?
An animated horror film is a welcome sight, but the animation of Seoul Station is a combination of 3D character models with toon shading and traditionally illustrated backgrounds. At times this works, but the character animation can feel particularly rough, particularly when characters find themselves running, which happens a lot.
The film’s arguable lead, Hye-sun, is not a particularly strong character. Most often she serves as a hapless victim who gets other characters killed by virtue of her own inability to survive. There is still room for characters like this in fiction, of course, not everyone is a natural survivor. Unfortunately, Hye-sun does not have any real development throughout the film and that can be frustrating.
It is rare to find a zombie movie in the last 20 years in the traditional Romero style that is truly excellent. Seoul Station is one of those films that manages to do what even George Romero struggled to do within the final films of his life. If Seoul Station is any indication, Train to Busan should be an excellent film when it finally lands on Shudder later this month. For now, though, you can prepare for it by watching Seoul Station on the streaming service.(4.5 / 5)
Have you seen Seoul Station? If so, what did you think. Please let us know. Please continue to check Haunted MTL for more zombie goodness.
The Last Drive-In Valentine’s Day Special Live Watch Party February 10th!
The sweet putrid stench of love lingers through the air which can only mean one thing…Valentine’s Day and its annoying little winged cherub, Cupid, is fast approaching. Soon, partners will be spoiling one another with extravagant bouquets of roses, heartfelt Hallmark cards, obnoxiously large teddy bears, glistening diamond jewelry, and heart-shaped candies or boxes filled with assorted mediocre chocolates. You know? Normal things couples do. I tend to prefer my chocolate boxes filled with bleeding hearts, à la ‘My Bloody Valentine’ but, beggars can’t be choosers, right? All jokes aside, Valentine’s Day is special for many couples, however, there are also many others who find themselves celebrating this day without a significant other. Luckily, Shudder, along with drive-in king Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) will graciously be keeping us lonely mutants’, and yes, all you horror fanatic couples’ company on Friday, February 10th as they return with The Last Drive-In Valentine’s Day Special, premiering live at 9pm EST.
Love Spells Abound…
Back in 2021, Joe Bob and Darcy invited us to a gruesomely passionate night of spell-binding love witches and animatronic dinosaurs infused with teenage human brains during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You. Many, including myself, were introduced to the tantalizing 70’s inspired retro throwback ‘The Love Witch’ and the graphically goofy cult classic ‘Tammy and the T-Rex’, providing the perfect viewing pleasure to mend any broken heart. While the two films for this year’s morbid love-induced special have yet to be announced, we here at HauntedMTL are eagerly awaiting the return of the ghoulish duo. As is tradition, we will be proudly hosting a watch party on Twitter during the live broadcasting of The Last Drive-In Valentine’s Day Special. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us @hauntedMTL as well as @shudder, @therealjoebob, and @kinky_horror to partake in this night of unholy love.
What started off as a one-time special premiering on Shudder July 13, 2018, ‘The Last Drive- In’ was originally meant to be Brigg’s swan song; one last special before hanging up the bolo tie in retirement. However, due to so many mutants, excuse me…viewers tuning in and breaking the Shudder servers, it was only natural to announce an official full season of ‘The Last Drive-In‘, which would make its explosive debut March 19, 2019. Since then, Darcy and Briggs have spawned many exclusive holiday specials, have graciously donated to many charities within the community, and have accumulated 4 seasons of ‘The Last Drive-In’, with a fifth currently in production premiering on Shudder’s 2023 schedule sometime this year, let’s hope sooner rather than later.
Horror Noire, a Film Review
Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”
Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.
As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.
The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.
What I Like
Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.
My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.
However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.
What I Dislike
As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.
Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.
Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
(3.5 / 5)
Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.
And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.
Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.
Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship.
Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.
Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar.
At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.
Then, of course, things go bad.
One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.
If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.
This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today.(5 / 5)