05 November 2006

FEZ is a ZOMBIE! 1st Movie Review El Muerto: Romero meets Rodriguez

As as Diabolkal Super-Kriminal I stole my way into an advance screening of a new teen zombie flick, along with my biographer, Mort Todd, who wrote the following critique. Here, then, is the FIRST movie review of the movie EL MUERTO based on the comic book by Javier Hernandez!

The MAN and His MONSTER! Creator Javier Hernandez and actor Wilmer Valderrama.

There have been zombie films, superhero flicks, Latino features and teen romance movies, but this is the first Latino zombie superhero teen romance! And this isn't your uncle's zombie film as El Muerto, unlike other members of the walking dead, can run around during the day, feel love, fight evil and he doesn't have a taste for human flesh.

The motion picture is based on the El Muerto comic by Javier Hernandez, published by Los Comex. It is one of the most faithful transfers of a comic book to the screen as adapted by director Brian Cox. The film's title sequence pays reverence to its origins, featuring art by Hernandez that evokes the opening of many Sergio Leone films (Coincidently the film is produced by unrelated Leones).

Contrary to many comic book films that take forever setting up the origin of the character, El Muerto swiftly unfolds his beginnings and gets to the action, establishing his motivation, his powers and the conflict of being a teen zombie. Young Diego (Wilmer Valderrama, yes Fez from That 70s Show) crosses Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec God of Death and has his still-beating heart (if not his soul) plucked from him. His love for his girlfriend Maria (the beautiful Angie Cepeda) helps brings him back from the Land of Death, much to the surprise of his friend Zak (Joel David Moore of Art School Confidential) and others.

A series of gruesome deaths and some omens lead them to believe the God of Death is up to no good and only Diego as El Muerto can stop him!

El Muerto has something for everyone and will even appeal to people who wouldn't be caught dead watching a zombie movie. This is a zombie film for the entire family! It has an engaging action and a romantic theme, believable special effects, great music and sound design. It boasts many incredible actors like Michael Parks (Kill Bill), Tony Plana (now in Ugly Betty), Maria Conchita Alonso and Tony Amendola. The underused and underrated Billy Drago (The Untouchables) makes an impression in a stunning performance.

Some cite the character's similarity to The Crow, but they are night and day. They're both black-clad reanimated corpses with make-up on, but that's where it ends. Whereas the Crow is dark and cynical, El Muerto is light and positive. Though hearts get ripped out and there's other gore, it's tastefully done, usually off screen though still with impact.

With Wilmer Valderrama in the lead, it should attract a wide female and teen audience. One gets the feeling that this film will ultimately have long legs on video and become a cult/mainstream favorite as the years pass. It's a great character and should inspire many fun sequels and spin-offs.

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