One Cut of the Dead
Director: Shinichiro Ueda
Release: Third Window Films
This is unquestionably the best zombie movie I have seen in a long time. It is certainly one of the most interesting horror/comedy films I have watched recently, and it was well worth the wait to see it.
The most successful independent film in Japanese cinema history! Opening on just 2 screens, ONE CUT OF THE DEAD grossed more than $30 million and spent more time in the Box Office Top 10 than any other film!
A cast of relative unknowns, a brilliantly disguised low budget and an epic, 37-minute opening single take makes Shinichiro Ueda’s feature debut a bright, breezy and laugh-out-loud hilarious zombie comedy. A film crew is shooting a zombie horror flick in an abandoned water filtration plant, allegedly used for human experiments by the military. Just as the director browbeats his actors and demands more special effects blood, a real zombie apocalypse erupts, much to his auteur delight.
I first learned about this movie in the summer of 2018 and was really bummed out when I couldn’t watch it immediately. Around the first of the year it showed up on Amazon, I planning on watching it when I got home, but then it was pulled as a bootleg and I am grateful that I didn’t watch stream it then. A few weeks ago DiabolikDVD announced that they were going to stock the Blu-ray from the UK and I pulled the trigger. This movie is something to behold, and rather surprising. Also, for those concerned, it is region free.
It would be criminal of me to spoil any of this movie for you so I have to be brief. As the title and description suggest this is a long take zombie movie; A very long take. It isn’t the longest one take shot, but where many of its peers have hidden cuts I don’t remember seeing any cut during the action.
The difficulty in what they executed here is simply incredible.
BREAK SPOILERS beneath the scores, but, this is a movie that people will be talking about for a long time to come. Even if you enjoy horror comedy you really ought to watch and support this film. It is absolutely worth it.
- Interview with director Shinichiro Ueda (17min)
- Making Of (45min)
- Take 8 short film (20min)
- Outtakes (5min)
- Go-Pro version of one-cut (38min)
- POM TV Instruction Video (1 min)
- Trailer (1 min)
There is a surprising amount of special features included here. I watched most of the interview with Shinichiro Ueda and it was fairly interesting but by the time I would have watched the Making of featurette I had lost interest, this is solely due to content repetition, not poor quality. Based on the directors responses and the content of the film I was ready to be done, I do plan on revisiting it some day. Don’t let that change your mind on the release. I also didn’t watch the Go-Pro version, again, because I had just watched the movie.
I did enjoy the two shorts, Take 8 and POM TV Instruction Video, they were interesting and the outtakes, which could have been labeled deleted scenes, were neat but understandably cut.
Director: 10 – Cinematography: 8 – Edit: 10 – Parity: 4 – Main performance: 7 – Else performance: 5 – Score: 5 – Sound: 7 – Story: 6 – Script: 10 – Effects: 8 – Design: 6 – Costumes: 7 – Keeps interest: 10 – Lasting: 10
Spoilers section, continue at your own risk.
The conceit of this movie is that there is a new television network focusing on zombie content and they hire a director to create a live broadcast zombie show to kick off the programming. The film takes place in three parts. It starts with the 37 minute single shot film. Next the narrative goes back a month to show the director getting the gig to plan, write, and cast his broadcast zombie and shows a bit of emotional toll on the family. So you have a switch from horror, to drama, and then for the third act they film the filming of the film and it becomes a gory slapstick comedy of errors.
The shear volume of planning involved is in enormous. Now, when you consider that the film came out of a filmmakers workshop and was made for $25,000 you have a small, independent, film that made 250 times its budget, making it one of the most profitable films of all time. This is a movie that people will be talking about for a long time to come. Even if you enjoy horror comedy you really ought to watch and support this film. It is absolutely worth it.