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Simon Read [Film Festival 11.04.10] post apocalyptic zombies movie review horror mockumentary

Year: 2010
Directors: David J. Francis, Mike Masters
Writers: Mike Masters
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

A zombie mock-u-mentary from the director of Zombie Night and Zombie Night 2, takes the form of a deadpan behind the scenes look at the attempt to make Zombie Night 3, when the world just happens to have been overcome by real zombies. While the first two entries in the series look like z-grade schlock fests, this little spin-off film is actually very well presented and at times extremely funny, with an air of spontaneity and anything goes improvisation. It benefits from a witty script, great comic timing from a cast in on the joke, and a series of uninterrupted long takes during which so much happens one can’t help but wonder how they pulled it off.

David J. Francis and Mike Masters play themselves as a pair of long time filmmakers and old friends who, in the wake of a genuine zombie outbreak, decide to get in touch with their old producers and cast to take advantage of the situation. We get a bit of background; it seems these guys have been making porny zombie films for a number of years without much success, just enough to finance the next one. Now they seize the opportunity to benefit from having some undead actors and they gear up and role camera. The producers, Sam and Steve, have been living in a bunker since the outbreak began and have been under the assumption that they were the only survivors left, David laughs at this and says, “I’ve been living in suburbia the whole time and I’ve been fine!”

With production underway a casting call is organized and script meetings take place; “I don’t think it’s in bad taste, I mean there were 9/11 movies right after, right?” A friend named Paul happens to own a car and is drafted in. Although he’s desperate to have an important role in the making of the film, he’s given the job of ‘Transport Captain’, a fancy term for ‘guy with a car’ and is assigned to look after the lead zombie actor, an actual zombie, “He’s not going in my car! They leak outta their asses!” To control the zombie cast an old fella named Red is hired as lead zombie wrangler. He likes his job, “Keeps me in smokes…”, and explains that for zombie ‘extras’ he simply smashes their teeth out to make them safe. Paul and Red stand out as inspired supporting comic relief. Paul is forever complaining about his role, and when the zombie in his care eats his precious iPod he’s livid, and is given a tape walkman and pair of huge 80’s headphones as compensation. When he attacks said zombie in a blind rage, Red has to hold him back and pleads, “Don’t hurt that zombie!”

David and Mike have a lot of fun as the inept directors trying to keep things going in the wake of inevitable disasters on set. David finds a harpoon and becomes convinced that he must write a scene for it, even if it doesn’t make sense. To give the film a bit of a boost they decide on a musical number for band ‘The Ungrateful Dead’, during which the entire cast and crew get tanked on beer and forget what they’re doing. Producers Sam and Steve basically watch from the sidelines, unimpressed and quietly wishing they had nothing to do with the whole thing, at one point they hear screams from off screen and turn to the camera, “I hate the people I work with.” Two rival actresses vie for position of lead, not realizing just how much they’ll have to perform au natural, “Tell me again why my character is naked in this scene?” A short but sweet cameo from Lloyd Kaufmann is inspired, as he delivers the repeated line, “I’m going to kill as many of those bastards!” We see the line printed on t-shirts worn by the cast and crew and get the impression that David is quite proud of it.

The film is packed with ideas, and subtle references to other movies as obvious as Dawn of the Dead, and as obscure as Shatter Dead (homeless zombies!) and The Stink of Flesh (sexy zombies!), but adds plenty of new material to the game too. The sight of a zombie craft services table pilled high with guts is one gag that stuck in my mind. The poor humans are scavenging for food but the zombies can help themselves between takes. They also manage to capture the sheer excitement of filmmaking; as someone who’s spent a lot of time on sets of ultra low budget films, when things are going well there really is a feeling of euphoria and it rings true as David bounces around on one of the productions better days, he grins into the camera and admits, “I’m just so happy!” Similarly when things get bad and the arguments explode on set, one sees the familiar tantrums that directors and writers can put their crew through in times of stress, or in this case, mass zombie carnage.

If you get the chance to check this out at a festival or on DVD then grab it. For die hard zombie fans it’s a must-see, for casual viewers I guarantee you’ll get a few good laughs from it. The direction, for a mock-u-mentary, is solid and the actors manage to create believable characters who, like them or not, you do end up rooting for. Kind of like American Movie crossed with Shaun of the Dead, the audience at the screening loved it and it was a great kick start to the festival.

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deb (11 years ago) Reply

I want to see it again!!!!!

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