The dead are rising all over Wales, and one family is making their last stand in an isolated farmhouse, hoping to survive the night and maybe escape somewhere safer the next day, but hidden family secrets may destroy them before the dead get the chance.
Before I started The Year of the Undead I had no idea there were so many freaking Night of the Living Dead knockoffs. I don’t mean the hundreds if not thousands of clones that have popped up over the years, that’s to be expected when the basic plot of so many zombie movies is “group of trapped people in some sort of building must survive a zombie onslaught while bickering amongst each other.” I’m not talking about those, but the slew of films that don’t even try to hide the fact they are copying the Romero original that started the undead trend we’ve all come to know and love, the ones that even go by the title Night of the Living Dead. Many of them might add an extra title at the end as if it makes some kind of a difference, titles like “3D,” “Origin,” or in this case “Resurrection,” but they aren’t fooling anyone. It’s obvious that the people making these movies are just trying to make another Night of the Living Dead film and taking advantage of the fact that Romero and crew never put a copyright on their original. Some are just going for the quick buck, trying to make something they don’t have to put much effort into that will draw in a few fans by name alone, but others seem to want to make a version of a movie they absolutely loved and want to honor with their own adaption. Let’s find out which category Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection falls into.
Our film begins with a group of rowdy teenagers threatening an old man into buying them “super strength cans” which according to my British friends means a certain type of shitty beer that tastes like swill but will get you fucked up. The scared old man who seems unnaturally terrified of teenagers, don’t understand why he didn’t just pop one in the face and walk away, enters the store to get the aforementioned cans and we can see little hints that the dead rising isn’t an entirely new problem, but one the world might have been dealing with for a while now. A newspaper reads “Rabid Grannies Bit My Baby” and a paper taped to the front door reads “The Dead Rise?” so zombies have already begun making their moans to an unsuspecting world. While looking for the store owner to purchase the beer he is attacked by a zombie and walks outside to himself attack the teenagers, biting one of them before he collapses. A panicked man comes screeching to a halt in his car and yells at the teenagers to leave both the collapsed older gentleman and the bitten teen alone, but they ignore his warnings leading to another one of the teens being bitten. The panicked man hops back into his car and drives away, making a call to let a woman named Babs know that he’s coming to get her. Unfortunately, his car runs out of gas and he’s forced to walk the rest of the way, but the amount of zombies crowding the road in front of him force the man to seek shelter at a nearby farmhouse where a family is doing its best to survive the night. The family then takes the focus of the story as they struggle through their own personal problems while the dead grow in numbers outside. If they can’t get past their own issues then this might just be their last night among the living.
While Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection is most assuredly a copy of the original Romero flick, it stands out by making the story all its own, but still giving credit through little hat tips to the original film. There’s a few of them scattered throughout, and most are fairly easy to spot like a photo that’s been made into Night of the Living Dead’s movie poster, the photo of the sick little girl in the basement, being the lock screen on someone’s phone, and the names of some of the characters like Ben, the panicked man driving the car, or the woman whom he’s trying to save Babs, a nickname for Barbra. Others might be a little harder to spot like the radio broadcast describing in Welsh how to stop the living dead, a broadcast that matches the words of the sheriff in the original film describing the same thing. It was nice to throw in a few nods towards the original film for the Night of the Living Dead fan to find, making some easy to spot on your own and others noticeable only after a repeated viewing or with a little hint from somewhere else, i.e. the Welsh broadcast. I liked finally seeing a rehash of the Romero film that actually felt original instead of feeling like I was watching a bad remake, something I’ve felt all too often when watching most of these carbon copies. I won’t say Resurrection is entirely original, you can see that if follows Romero’s original film of a group stuck in a farmhouse while the dead try and beat their way inside, but in both the characters and their actions it is very different.
One of the main differences was in the family dynamic that is at the center of the film. Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection is more about the struggles of the family inside the farmhouse than it is about the zombies outside of it. There is a palpable tension among them as they worry about their future amidst the chaos going on not just in their little hamlet, but around the world. They are all very afraid, and each of the actors do a great job portraying that fear. You can read it on their faces and in their actions exactly how terrified they are, how much it is affecting them. They handled it so well that you will truly find yourself believing that they are all terrified of what is happening, so terrified that they begin to slowly turn on each other and fall apart same as the world outside. Family secrets that might have otherwise remained hidden come out and threaten to further break them apart in a time when their unity is the only thing that might save them from an untimely death. Creating a further level of fear and apprehension is the fact that some within the house are infected as well, and while some turn and become zombies themselves, a few are infected but wondering if they’ve managed to clean their wounds before the infection was able to go too deep. Being zombie fans we want to scream at them that they are definitely infected and will turn themselves, but these people don’t know that, furthermore, neither does the viewer as the film does presents it as if it’s possible for them to have beaten the infection. So not only is there a tension within the house simply about their survival, but there is also the tension of not knowing what will become of those infected and what to do with those that have already turned. The family knows that the zombie they are now harboring, albeit harboring in a locked up fashion, is no longer the person they knew, but as it is someone they love they can’t bring themselves to end that person’s existence once and for all. It made for a dramatic take on the tale of a group stuck in a farmhouse trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Well, not entirely stuck as they do make an attempt to get help or escape from the farmhouse, but these don’t end very well for the attempting escapee. I loved that I found myself more worried about the family imploding than the zombies managing to get them. The film also makes great use of camera angles and close ups to further heighten the tension and disorientate the viewer. Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection even makes use of a “zombie cam” aspect or a camera that is mounted in to face towards the zombie actor so you can watch him or her as he stalks their victim. I wasn’t sure something like that would work out very well, but it actually works great, helping to make an already tense atmosphere that much more apprehensive.
There are a couple of things however that keep this from being an absolutely great movie. One is the amount of poorly thought out moments on the part of the filmmakers, things that either didn’t make sense or were out right dumb. Some of them were just the result of poor editing like easily seeing a dead man breathe, a zombie “dying” after being stabbed in the stomach after it had already been established that the only way to kill them permanently was to destroy their brain, or my personal favorite, a man having his legs run over and spitting up blood. I could be wrong as anatomy wasn’t my strongest subject, neither was geography though I have no idea what pertinence that has here, but I wouldn’t think your legs being crushed would cause someone to spit up blood, didn’t think the legs and the esophagus were connected, but again, I could be wrong about that. Then there were parts that just showed bad writing in my opinion, things that annoyed me to no end like a zombie seeming asleep until someone got too close. There is a part where Ben, the man whose car runs out of gas, decides to syphon gas out of another car, but there’s one problem, the gas tank has a lock on it and Ben is forced to get the keys out of the ignition. When he opens the car door to get the keys, a man that seemed dead suddenly awakens and attacks him like it’d been taking a nice little nap previously. Not only does the sleepy time zombie go after him, but a zombie that had been hiding in the back thought playing peekaboo was a good idea and popped up to grab him too. I get that they were going for a scare factor, but it all it did for me was make me question why these particular zombies decided to be so playful. Another instance of this kind of shoddy writing was when the father of the family holing up in the farmhouse resolved to go for help, this being the same man who ends up spitting out blood after getting his legs crushed like the T-800 from the first Terminator film. He runs into a group of road warrior type of teenagers with axes and bats who are blocking his path, threatening to kill him over his wheels. That’s right, he’s in a car and the teenagers are on bikes, now I’m not a physics whiz, but I’m pretty sure that in a match of bicycle versus car the car is going to win so I’m not sure why he didn’t just run right through them. He instead chooses to back the car up, attempting to slowly get away even as they are smashing his window and pulling him out. I’m sure the old man didn’t want to have to hurt the youngins, but when the alternative is being hacked apart by crazy teenagers, probably cursing and stepping on my lawn unnecessarily while I complained about how much things cost nowadays, I’m going to run the mother fuckers over. This rather too easy joke leads us into my other major complaint about the film, it seemed to have been written by old men with either a grudge against the young or at the very least a strong fear of them because teenagers are presented as evil fucks who will murder you if given half the chance. I get that teenagers can be annoying asshats at times, I happened to be king asshat when I was a teenager, but I don’t remember hooking up with one of the roving post-apocalyptic Mad Max style gangs that were forming to hunt down all old people. There is a definite bias towards the young with more than a few examples of teenagers doing absolutely deplorable things to older folks and being shown with little if any kind of a conscious. It was so over the top with how it was presented that if it weren’t for the serious nature of the rest of the film I’d think it was parody.
Still, Night of the Living Dead: Resurrected is one of the better Night of the Living Dead clones out there, and while it’s not the greatest movie, it was an enjoyable watch with a focus more on how a family would deal with the zombie apocalypse than the zombies themselves. I’d recommend giving it a watch if you get the chance.
The Undead Review
Directed By: James Plumb (Final Girl, Kerb Crawlers)
Starring: Lee Bane (A Haunting in the Rectory, Poltergeist Activity), Terry Victor (Score, A Bit of Tom Jones?), Rose Granger (Living with the Dead, Kerb Crawlers), Kathy Saxondale (Granny of the Dead, Pluck), Mel Stevens (Penny, Kerb Crawlers), and Aaron Bell
Written By: Andrew Jones (A Haunting Rectory, Poltergeist Activity) and James Plumb (Kerb Crawlers, Final Girl)
Released By: Mad Science Films, Night of the Living Dead, North Bank Entertainment, 4Digital Media, and Lionsgate Entertainment
Release Year: 2012
Release Type: Theatrical Release
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Rotten Heads: Three Heads Out of Five