Zombie Night

ZN1

After Pakistan and India fire nuclear weapons at each other, the result is not just the destruction of two countries, but a plague that brings the dead back to life, leaving a small group of those still among the living trying to survive in a world more favorable to the dead.

I’ve always wondered where the idea of nuclear radiation creating zombies, or zombie like monsters, came from. I assumed it had to do with the misunderstanding of everything that happens when you drop a bunch of nukes, the horror of possible zombie creation seeming less than the horror of what really could happen. That’s the way of a lot of fantasy I think, no matter how horrendous you make it, it’s always better than the horrors of reality. It’s why so many of the torture porn films like Saw, Hostel, and the various copycats are so popular, while the things being shown are horrific in nature and sickening to think about, we know they’re fictitious and it gives us a break from the real life horror happening all over the world. It’s easier to see a made up version of something appalling than it is to deal with the reality of it. Sometimes it’s actually used to good effect to both distract the viewer and impart a little lesson, since we’re on radiation, Godzilla is a good example. I’m not talking about the less than stellar America remake in the 90’s or the even worse version made recently. No, I’m talking about the original 1954 classic. It’s easy to forget that the first Godzilla movie wasn’t supposed to be as fun or silly, it was supposed to be a fable about the dangers of using nuclear weapons. Don’t get me wrong, I adore all the Godzilla movies with the exception of the American ones, but some of them get damn ridiculous. Not the first one though, that was supposed to be taken seriously with Godzilla being used as a metaphor for the unchecked power of nuclear armaments. My guess is the same thing happened with the nuclear created zombie, a shambling corpse that refused to die not being quite as terrifying as the threat of total annihilation via nuclear war. Just remember that the next time you want to talk down to a zombie, an undead take over might not be great for the living, but we’re still better than nuclear war.

Our nuclear themed flick begins with Mark and his family returning from a vacation deep in the woods. Having been away for two weeks and completely cut off from civilization, they are eager to get caught up on the news, but the news isn’t so good. While they were away, India and Pakistan exchanged a barrage of nuclear attacks that led to things falling apart all over the world. China invaded Russia which caused complete chaos, the fallout from the Pakistani Indian war reached the United States, and more importantly, the dead begin to rise from their graves and attack the living. As if finding out the world as they knew it had ended wasn’t bad enough, their car dies and leaves them stranded in an unfamiliar area. They make their way to a somewhat safe warehouse nearby, but without any food or supplies they won’t be able to stay long. Figuring that they’re safest where they are now, Mark decides to go out searching for supplies and runs into fellow survivor Dave who is forced to put down his infected wife and child. While the pair mourn the loss of life, people begin showing up out of nowhere, all of them drawn to Mark and Dave for whatever reasons. The group hightail back to Mark’s hideout with the supplies Dave had previously collected, among them the very unstable Derek who immediately causes problems when he demands more than his fair share of supplies before abruptly making the choice to leave the group. They allow him to leave with a few items, but warn him that he will not be allowed back inside once he goes. When he leaves, Derek proves he is not only unstable but inept as well, coming back to the hideout after being unable to survive on his own. He breaks down the entrance after being told he made his decision and cannot come back inside, his stupidity causing him to not realize he’s just destroyed the door, making the place useless as a shelter and safe haven against the undead. Now the group, Derek included, will have to traverse a dangerous world to find a new hideout or end up like the roaming dead outside.

ZN7

{You might as well get used to the dead eyed stare now because that’s Dave’s face for most of the movie}

I don’t even know where to begin with this movie it was so bad, one of those films you almost feel was made on a lost bet where someone placed a wager that no one could get a film this bad made and someone took the bet just to spite them, resulting in this cluster fuck known as Zombie Night. You can immediately see some problems right there in the plot synopsis with two things I mentioned, the random group of people who keep showing up at Dave’s hideout and the survivors’ refusal to boot Derek despite him being such an astounding asshat that puts everyone in constant danger. People showing up out of nowhere is a constant throughout the movie too. It’s bad enough that when people start showing up at Dave’s hideout like there was a beacon calling to them, running in from all sides because different people who didn’t know each other happened to be in the area at the same time, but having people constantly popping up throughout the movie was ridiculous and just made the film seem like even more of a bad joke than it already was. There was the scene with Dave and Mark at the beginning, a scene where they are walking to their new shelter and halfway there have more people, during a zombie attack not long after that a man in a wheelchair appears out of the blue, and later on during a meeting there are suddenly more people than there were the entire film. The absolute worst example of this was when an old man shows up out of nowhere as a part of the group and proceeds to bite another survivor who was also not in the group before. It’s not like the group is picking up people as they go, these people just pop up randomly, like they’ve been there the whole time and you simply didn’t notice. I felt like the filmmakers where forgetting how many people were supposed to be in the group, so they flubbed the numbers as they went. It would have taken a simple line like “Man, we sure do seem to be picking up a lot of survivors,” to explain the whole thing, instead we get people appearing out of thin air. Then there’s Derek, poor, poor, Derek whom they try to make appear psychotic but only comes across as a man child throwing a temper tantrum, tantrums that can turn violent, but are no less tantrums. He breaks the door to their only place of safety and instead of realizing the man is a danger to the group, they accept him back into the fold where he is eventually able to do more damage, causing the death of most of the group and nearly ending any hope of survival. These are hardly the only times Zombie Night proves just how awful of a movie it is, and it definitely isn’t the only times things are just down right poorly written, to the point they make very little sense.

ZN6{The car ride in the beginning is one of the few times the movie does actually make sense}

There are so many instances of what a horrible movie this is and how badly it was written that I almost don’t know where to start. I always take notes whenever I’m going to review a movie, and I ran out of room on the sheet I was using to mark down all the instances where things either didn’t make sense or were outright dumb, scenes that only proved how little anyone gave a shit about the movie being made. Let me give you a few of the more glaring examples:

  • I already mentioned where they are making their trek to a new shelter. Well during that trek they have to sneak past a group of hillbillies ganging up on a naked, zombified woman. They walk through a field with absolutely no cover, and somehow make it past the hillbillies without them noticing, a near impossible thing to do considering the hillbillies were standing around in a circle and would have easily seen them.
  • When they finally do find their new shelter, the survivors stumble inside where the zombies “wake up” like they were hibernating before living, human flesh came around. Why were they all asleep? And why would a zombie sleep in the first place?
  • Sleeping aside, why do the zombies sometimes eat blankets? I’m not talking about bad effects where something looks like a blanket, I’ll get to how awful the effects are in a bit, I’m talking about them eating actual blankets.
  • They go on and on about checking anyone who leaves for bite marks when they come back, yet they allow three people to reenter the shelter with bite marks. Then, when one of them turns and bites a nearby woman, they let the woman go about her business as if nothing had happened.
  • Where exactly do they get all their weapons from? They start out with just a few handguns but have an entire arsenal by the end of the movie. Not to mention the fact that they have an unlimited ammo supply somehow.

I could make an entire review out of listing off each time something like the above examples happened, it was that prevalent throughout the film, but I still have the awful effects and atrocious acting to get to. Zombie Night was just a mess of poorly thought out scene after poorly thought out scene, dragging you through a movie that makes you feel like you must have been drinking heavily even when you haven’t touched a drop. At least being completely drunk would explain why nothing made sense, instead it’s just a movie with writing so awful See Spot Run seems like best seller material.

ZN5{When you’re film makes Tommy Wiseau look good you should just give up}

I’m not sure if I should mention the acting or the effects next, both being as equally terrible as they were. I guess I’ll go with the effects first, like everything else in this movie they are abysmal. Sometimes it was as if they weren’t even paying attention to what they were doing, someone would get bit and instead of there being any kind of mark there would be nothing. This happened several times, people were attacked and bitten but would be free of any wounds, another sign of the lazy approach the filmmakers took to making this movie. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered if they had paid attention because the times where something gory was shown, it looked absolutely awful, like when a zombie spits what were obviously gummy worms out of its mouth or munches on red rope that it can’t chew, the rope intended to look like intestines but looking like painted rope instead. I understand the limits of what an independent flick can do, but they could have at least put a little more effort into it. The sound effects were just as bad as the visual effects too, whenever the zombies are eating someone it sounds like they are eating Captain Crunch. Worse yet is when they rip out organs from a person and it sounds somewhere in between a wet fart and the sound someone makes when they slurp spaghetti noodles.

ZN13{Supporting zombie eating habits since 2003}

Lastly, there’s what passes for acting in this movie. After watching Forest of the Living Dead I was positive I’d seen the worst acting possible, turns out I was wrong. The acting here is dreadful, and wins the award for worst. Most of these people didn’t look like they bothered to try and make their characters even halfway decent, forgoing acting and just adlibbing in the blandest tone of voice they could muster. The best of example of this would be Mark’s daughter. *Spoiler Alert* Mark ends up bitten by a zombie himself at one point and jumps off of a building rather than turn into a member of the undead. His daughter sees him dead on the ground, head split open, and looks as if she’s just missed the ice cream truck, a little saddened but otherwise fine, and it’s not because she’s in shock, she’s clearly trying to act devastated, she simply can’t do it. Scratch that, that’s not actually the best example, the best example would go to Dave’s angry prayer near the end of the movie where he shakes his fists and does a halfass scream. That kind of lackluster acting is prevalent throughout the film. Part of me wondered if it didn’t have to do with the bad writing again though because the characters are badly created and the dialogue is appalling, on par with what an 8th grade drama club member might write if he or she tried to imagine what adults would sound like at the end of the world. Stellar lines like:

  • “I beat cancer, I’ll beat this,”
  • “We’ll make them go away someday.”
  • “Why’d you take them goddamnit?” That being part of Dave’s angry prayer.

The dialogue never improved and I felt like I was watching an 80’s infomercial about someone’s backyard acting school.

ZN8{Ed Wood looks down and smiles at this movie}

Please, for all that is unholy, do not waste your time with Zombie Night. It’s only value might be in forcing someone to invent a time machine to get the time spent watching this garbage back.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: David J. Francis (Awakening, Reel Zombies)

Starring: Danny Ticknovich, Dwayne Moniz (Sex, Lies, and Celebrity Recipes), Sandra Segovic (A Woman of Wealth and Taste), and Johnny Cole (You’re the Bomb, The Visitor)

Written By: Amber Lynn Francis and David J. Francis (Awakening)

Released By: Primal Films Inc. and SPG Motion Picture and Video Distribution

Release Year: 2003

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Rating: Rated R

Rotten Heads: Empty Skull

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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