|cast: Laurie Baranyay, Shasa Dabner, Johnny Diaz Reyes, Chris Estes, Melissa Frederick
director: Ana Clavell
99 minutes (18) 2004 widescreen ratio 16:9
Whilst this movie takes its title from George A Romero’s classic zombie flick, the similarities end there. Not that I watched this film seeking to make comparisons, but as a movie in its own right. And on those terms, unfortunately, this is a dreadfully bad piece of filmmaking, with poor acting, a confusing and self-contradictory plot, and slipshod direction. Please note: this isn’t one of those so-bad-that-it’s-good cult movies. It just stinks.
For what it’s worth the story begins in 1968 when some phials brought over from Russia are found to contain a virus that turns people into zombies. The army is sent in to clean out the military base that has become infected, but someone escapes with one of the phials in a thermos flask. Although he ends up getting shot, the thermos gets lost in the grass and then found years later in the grounds of the civilian mental hospital that got built on the site. Naturally, the canister gets opened and those in the immediate vicinity become infected. Here, the movie shows some originality in that the finders become dead but retain their faculties – only changing fully into zombies near the end of the movie. They also gain shared experience (for example, when one gets shot they all get shot), yet there is an inconsistency in this happening that undermines the plot device. The main zombie outbreak occurs when one of those infected bites the arm of a doctor who tries to rape her. The doctor mutates into a mass of flesh, and in turn creates more familiar zombies from the other patients. Everyone dies at the end.
Whilst the plot itself isn’t that bad, the handling of it is terrible… The main characters are one-dimensional and – rather tellingly – the actors are better in their zombie roles than they are as people. In addition, the depiction of mental patients is quite shameful and embarrassing to watch. In fact, the entire tone of the movie is way off the mark. I’m sure that if there were any zombies in the audience they’d walk out!
For some viewers the special effects determine a good zombie movie, and whilst there are plenty of entrails eaten here, on balance the film adds nothing to those genre movies that already exist. In addition, there is some very poor CGI when the virus is released from the canister. Any suspense is also shot to pieces by the bad direction, which always takes the route of the obvious.
The film gets one point due to some unintentional laughs that almost made it bearable to watch. Seriously, avoid this movie like the plague and take a trip to the cinema for Romero’s Land Of The Dead, which proves there are still original zombie tales to tell.