When a mysterious blast decimates the city of Reno, Nevada, turning anyone not incinerated into bloodthirsty monsters, a few unlucky survivors hole up in a casino to plan their next move, but turmoil within the group threatens to tear them apart before the zombies can even get a chance.

You know, a casino might not be that bad of a place to hole up in case of an apocalypse. At least I don’t think it would be that bad, so take my advice with a grain of salt because I don’t go to the casino much, and even when I do it’s only to play twenty bucks in the penny slots. I like my money to go to more important things than a slot machine, things that have meaning, things like comic books, LEGOs, and movies. Not to mention that when I’m going to spend money going out, I’m certainly not giving much of it to a casino, not when miniature golf and bowling exist. That being said, the few times I’ve decided to throw my money away at a casino, they seemed like places that could be secured fairly easily, they always have a ton of food, and I don’t think a heck of a lot of people are going to consider a casino when the world decides it doesn’t want any more humans on it. That means you should be able to kill or turn the few humans hiding there, store bits for later, and wait until others come along to check the place out which they will do because it’s secure and has lots of food. What, you didn’t think I was talking about a good place for the living did you? No, when the time comes, you meatsacks are on your own. I’ll just be hiding out in a casino, waiting for my tasty treats to come into my all you can eat buffet. Suddenly casinos seem a lot more enjoyable.

Our story begins in Reno, Nevada on what has come to be known as Peace Day, a day when the world has decided it’s time to get rid of all nuclear weapons. Why the world decided Reno, Nevada was the place to do this is beyond me, maybe the UN just really liked Circus Circus. Something goes wrong at the celebration, and a nuclear blast either kills or mutates everyone in town, everyone except for a few not so lucky people that were inside a casino, or just hiding under a car because nuclear blasts aren’t enough to get past good old American engineering when a writer doesn’t feel like explaining how certain people lived and certain people died. Anyways, while Reno was becoming an even worse hellhole than it was before, card dealer Tom and cocktail waitress Tori were busy getting it on in a storage room of the Silver Star Casino, the thick walls being the only thing that saved them from the blast. Jensen, an amateur magician at the same casino, also survived the explosion while everyone else in the casino was mutated. You’ll notice he was not behind thick walls yet still survived, but since the fourth member of the group of survivors, Victor, made it by hiding under a car outside, I’m beginning to think the thick walls didn’t have as much to do with it as the film would have you believe. The four survivors are forced to work together when they come to the realization that they might just be the last humans in Reno and will need each other’s help to make the Silver Star a safe haven. Unfortunately for them, those affected by the fallout are still mutating, becoming faster and stronger by the day, but a convoy of military vehicles might spell salvation of the Silver Star survivors or it might simply bring more death.


{Can you believe that’s little Gage from Pet Sematary all grown up? I still see him as a tiny terror with a huge knife. He plays amateur magician Jensen.}

There’s one thing that really, really bugged me about Remains, might be a couple of spoilers here, so forewarning. My problem is this, why didn’t the military send someone in sooner because the film implies that Reno is the only place effected. Only one blast is ever mentioned, both by the people stuck inside the Silver Star and the military convoy when it shows up, that blast being the one that hit Reno. The Peace Day celebration isn’t given much screen time, so the only thing I know about it is that it had something to do with getting rid of all the world’s nuclear weapons, something that was to go down either in or around Reno, Nevada, but the disposal went wrong and an explosion turned the residents into zombies or mutated humans or whatever they were supposed to be (more on that in a bit). Okay, that’s fine. Maybe there were simultaneous blasts around the world, but we don’t hear about them because they aren’t important to the plot. Maybe all over the world people are going through the same things as our four stalwart survivors. Except that once the military convoy arrives, they only talk about the one blast too, and they mention that they are trying to get to Lake Tahoe because it was far enough away from said blast as to be safe. Lake Tahoe is only about an hour and a half away from Reno, so if it only takes a short Sunday drive to get away, why is the situation so dire? Why is the military convoy out of food when there’s a safe zone the next town over? Why is there no support, no aid workers, no soldiers, no nothing in a town that just got hit with a massive disaster if it’s safe everywhere outside of one of the world’s worst tourist destinations? It doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.  I learned after giving Remains a watch that it’s based on a Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre) comic book, so maybe the comic answers these questions, but the film presents the situation in such a way that it only seems like there was one explosion in Reno and anything outside of that one specific town was fine. Though even if they had explicitly stated that these explosions occurred all over the world, with a fallout zone that only takes a few hours to drive through it still wouldn’t have made much sense to have them completely cut off, nor would it have made sense to have a military convoy that was barely surviving on the road when there should be safe zones and government shelters up and running all over the damn place. I’m probably being too nitpicky, Remains is ultimately a “meh” kind of movie, so it’s doubtful anyone making this thought all that much about it, or would have even cared if they did, but it stuck with me none the less. I might have even been able to let it go had the rest of the movie not been such a mess of bad dialogue, terrible characters, and poorly thought out “zombies.”


{The zombies also sleep at night, yes, you read that right, when the sun does down, they pass out standing up, so the four survivors could have walked to Lake Tahoe with time to spare}

Besides the illogically laid out plot of having people “trapped” inside a casino when a good hike would have brought safety, the zombies were the another huge problem if only because the film has a hard time figuring out if they’re undead or just mutated. The makeup work isn’t bad, even if the glowing green eyes they gave them looked cartoonish. The zombies don’t look rotten or falling apart, but they are covered with sores and horribly deformed, reminding me of the mutated people in Night of the Comet. I just wish they would have decided what the zombie were instead of jumping back and forth. One minute they specifically mention them being undead, even mentioning that only a bullet to the brain will put them down (this despite the multiple times the viewer was shown otherwise), the next they’re irradiated mutants that are quickly evolving to become faster and stronger than your average human, and then they’re undead again. Repeat ad nauseam. I’d understand if it was about them learning more when it comes to the nature of the undead/mutated, but it just changed on a whim, and it went back and forth throughout the film. At least the makeup was decent despite the writers either being too lazy or too unwilling to make a decision on their status, the CGI is another matter entirely. There’s not much in the way of gore or FX work in Remains anyway, so this isn’t one to watch if you’re hoping for some gory fun, which makes me wonder why they didn’t put some more work into the few scenes that required at least passable looking FX. While the makeup might have reminded me of Night of the Comet, the CGI reminded me of those stores they used to have in the mall where you could get a cheap music video made.


{The zombies also eat themselves because when you’re hungry, you’re hungry}

There’s one thing that could have saved Remains from being an absolute waste of time to watch, good characters. I’m sure by the way I worded that you already know I’m about to tell you Remains didn’t have good characters. I don’t think it was all the actors’ fault, there’s only so much you can do when your character is hampered by atrocious dialogue. It appeared that they were going for an action movie vibe with the series of tough guy one liners, rally cries, and battle ready metaphors. I say appear because while I’m sure they thought they were being clever, it came out more like that one friend that gets really drunk and then thinks he’s being deep when he tells you why he wants to beat the hell out of the dude who looked at him wrong. Beyond that, film leads Tom and Tori spend most of their screen time bickering with one another like an old married couple. It gets old quick, like after the first fifteen minutes of the movie quick. I understand that they have a past together, and that past is supposed to be a central part of the film’s dynamic, but nobody wants to watch a couple squabble with each other for two hours. If that were the case, family get-togethers would be a lot more fun.


{Every freaking Thanksgiving}

In the end, I didn’t absolutely hate Remains, but I did find it to be very “meh,” and I’m not generally excited about “meh” movies. If it comes on television one day, then give it a watch, otherwise it’s just not worth it.


The Undead Review


Directed By: Colin Theys (Dead Souls, Wishin’ and Hopin’)

Starring: Grant Bowler (400 Days, Defiance), Evalena Marie (Serena and the Ratts, Dark Feed), Miko Hughes (Pet Sematary, New Nightmare), and Anthony Marks (Airplane vs. Volcano, Age of Tomorrow)

Written By: Steve Niles (original comic book) and John Doolan (Dead Souls, Deep in the Darkness)

Released By: Chiller Films and Synthetic Cinema International

Release Year: 2011

Release Type: Chiller TV Release

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

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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