Film: Kingdom, Seasons 1 & 2

by Kim Eun-hee
available in the US on Netflix
2019 – present

A nice distraction from a devastating real life plague is… A story about a much gorier and even more devastating FAST ZOMBIE plague with gorgeous sets and costumes, political drama, and a dreamy lead actor!

Set in a mythical, historical version of South Korea, Kingdom follows attempts to take the (alternate history) Joseon throne through political intrigue during a concurrent zombie plague crisis. While medical professionals are initially ignored (so relatable and familiar), and class concerns override action for the public’s well-being (same), all the key characters are soon navigating a dangerous political situation while struggling with a fast-spreading zombie plague that sounds too outrageous to be believed… which means people have to learn about it the hard way.

Fast spreading in this case means the infection spreads within minutes, resulting in fast zombies – the worst kind. Especially if you are trying to flee from large groups of them in a very elaborate period costume!

I enjoy the fast pace of the story, especially Season 2. I also appreciate the handsomeness of the put-upon crown prince character, played by model-turned-actor Ju Ji-Hoon. (There are some great photos of him in lovely clothes on the Internet… *sigh*)

My father got Netflix and asked what to watch, and was immediately addicted to this story, so I’ve been quite pleased with myself for recommending it.

Highlights: Hostile royal families, rivalries, murders, pretty gowns, hilarious hats (historically accurate), sharp swords, horses, spikes, blood, battles, bureaucrats, executions, self-absorbed rich people, GORGEOUS palaces (including the historic palaces that I had a chance to visit in Seoul!), sensible anti-zombie precautions, teamwork, bravery, good intentions, strategic planning, bad odds… It’s all so well done!

This series is highly recommended if you like fast zombies, political scheming, Korean historical buildings and costumes, and a fast narrative pace.

Film: Dystopian Anime: Iczer 1

Iczer 1
based on manga by Aran Rei
directed by Toshiki Hirano

Admittedly, this is a sci-fi horror story, not merely a dystopia. But… have you watched the news lately?

Overview: Humanoid aliens looking for a new home get mixed up with some creepier aliens, and by the time their ship arrives at earth, these alien “Cthulhu” immediately cause humans to have weird mask faces, become murderous, or explode in gory, bloody ways as they turn into an army of monsters. This approach allows the Cthulhu to take control of earth without having to have a destructive, conventional war (which humans still think they have a chance at!). A blonde alien with enormous hair and an even more enormous giant robot takes the humans’ side of this fight. All she needs is a sympathetic human girl to [take a deep breath here] get naked and use her emotions to power the giant robot, so she can succeed in battle. (I probably had you until that last sentence.). The Cthulhu also have a giant robot or two, and they fight back!

This embedded video is a link to a gorgeous, clean, fan-subtitled version of the film (via Reflex Studios)(YouTube):

Why I like it: It has everything – alien invasions, secret earth spaceships hidden near Mt. Fuji, light sabers, big hair, energy weapons, giant robots, fights that throw people into walls that they make craters in, parents that burst and turn into monsters, tentacle attacks, and a nearly all-female cast! (This particular version is CLASSY, so the tentacle scenes are brief! ) The timing and use of music is brilliant in several scenes, which I don’t want to spoil for you.

You’ll notice the summaries elsewhere describe the “body horror” elements quite a bit, and I’ll just say: it is definitely in the sci-fi horror genre, and the body horror is much like that of the film Aliens. So, while it isn’t realistic, just the same, the idea of parents exploding and becoming monsters isn’t exactly child-friendly, so don’t share this with little ones.