Zombie Night (2013)
Zombie Night was produced by The Asylum who are more infamously known for their Hollywood rip off 'mockbusters' such as Transmorphers, Alien Vs Hunter and Atlantic Rim but it seems once in a while they can come up with something a little more original, and watchable.
One film that springs to mind is their 2006 film Halloween Night, judging by the cover and the synopsis one would think that it's just a bad Halloween rip off (me included) but after giving it a go I found myself really enjoying it. For me Zombie Night is another one of those films. Directed by John Gulager who previously directed the Feast trilogy and Piranha 3DD which I thought was a bit of a career drop for him as most of The Asylum's films either premier on the Syfy Channel or go straight to DVD. I loved the Feast trilogy and unlike a lot of people I know I really liked Piranha 3DD as well. Sure it wasn't as good as Alexandr Aja's Piranha 3D, it had some terrible acting, some very unlikeable characters, some dodgy effects and a ridiculous plot but for me it was one of those so-bad-it's-good type of films and I laughed my ass off at it. I'd actually really like to see Gulager do a sequel to it - who doesn't want to see a film about [Spoiler Alert!] piranhas with legs that can walk on land? I'd buy that for a dollar.
Anyway back to Zombie Night, unlike a lot of The Asylum's films and others shown on the Syfy Channel, it features a few recognisable 80s stars and TV actors - Anthony Michael Hall (Weird Science, The Dead Zone), Daryl Hannah (Splash, Blade Runner, Kill Bill), Alan Ruck ( Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Spin City) and Jennifer Taylor (Two And A Half Men).
The film begins with Patrick (Hall) driving home with his daughter and her friend when they reach a traffic jam due to a big car accident. Patrick decides to turn the car around to take a short cut and eventually drives through a nearby cemetery. There they run a guy over and when they get out of the car to investigate they realize that he isn't the only dead person they need to worry about, it's the dead people crawling out of their graves.
Cue funky 80s style synthesizer music which is clearly a nod to Return Of The Living Dead as the trio flee across the graveyard dodging zombies on the way and they eventually take refuge in a small shed. After that we are introduced to Patrick's wife Birdie (Hannah) and her slightly senile mother who are at home hiding and wondering what the hell is going on outside. Birdie gets a phone call from her neighbour Joseph (Ruck) who is next-door also hiding with his wife Karin (Taylor), their two sons and their crazy Latino housekeeper. Their plan is to let nobody in or out and lock themselves into their upstairs safe room and wait for everything to blow over.
Eventually Patrick and his daughter make it home and are reunited with Birdie but decide their house isn't safe enough so they make their way next door to see if their neighbours would be kind enough to let them chill out in their safe room. Turns out their safe room isn't very safe after all so finally the survivors of both families make a run for it through the hordes of the undead, down underground passageways and find refuge in a mausoleum.
I'm a huge fan of the zombie sub-genre when it's done right but for the last decade or two there has only been a handful of good zombie films. Other than 28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later the only good ones I can think of to come out in the last few years have either been comedies (Shaun Of The Dead, Doghouse, Cockneys Vs Zombies, Zombieland) or foreign ones (REC, Dead Snow, The Horde, Juan Of The Dead). So for people who prefer their undead without laughs or subtitles all that's really been on offer is a slew of shitty D.I.Y. indie zombie flicks where maybe one out of every twenty is good, a Resident Evil sequel every two years or The Walking Dead. Even though I loved Land Of The Dead I'm still hoping Romero can redeem himself for Diary & Survival of the Dead.
For me Zombie Night was nothing great but I did enjoy it and found it a slight breathe of fresh air in a genre that lately stinks almost as bad as the undead corpses residing in it. All the cast put in solid performances and the zombies looked great as well, actually the best looking zombies I’ve seen in a while that haven't been done by KNB.
Like most films from The Asylum some of the CGI effects looked a bit dodgy in places but the practical effects and blood & guts looked great. Two things that separated the film from others in its' genre was the fact that for some reason the zombies only come alive at night, as soon as the sun rises they all just fall down dead again. Another thing I found odd that doesn't happen in most zombie films (none that come to mind anyway) is the fact that we aren't given any sort of an explanation as to how it all happened. No toxic waste spillage, no comet, no voodoo curse, no nuclear fallout, nothing. It's just left up to the imagination which I think is a good thing for a change as usually explanation take up a lot of time and can be boring. Give Zombie Night a go if you're a fan of the genre who doesn't mind something slightly different with a bit of cheese on top.