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  Zombie Night
David J. Francis, Canada, 2003
Rating: 2.9
 

Posted: November 19, 2004

Okay, devoted readers. After the Maplewoods fiasco, I just had to see if there were any low-budget zombie flicks in the offing. As fate would have it, I found one called Zombie Night, and it is not without its merits. Maplewoods was an affront to the zombie genre. Can a (seemingly) lower-budget effort surpass it?

Zombie Night earns points for setting the tone early: A family returning from a vacation in the woods (not the Maplewoods, let us all give thanks) picks up some radio news reports regarding biological warfare between India and Pakistan, and the detrimental global effects that result from it. For whatever reason, a zombie plague breaks out, and things get real bad, real fast. Zombie Night scores here because all this happens within the first two minutes of the film!!! As I always say, we know it's a zombie film. Get to it already! Anyway, this family hides out in what appears to be some kind of warehouse complex, and soon they meet others facing the same threat. They band together, figuring there'll be safety in numbers. It turns out that's not really true, however.

The zombies are excellent. They stumble (no hyperactive running zombies here, as has been the recent trend), they moan, ooze various fluids, and generally behave like good zombies should. There are decent shots of the zombies in the distance, gathering outside doors, and climbing stairs as they move past a barricade that the survivors have erected. In short, all's well on the zombie front.

Then, as with most zombie films, there is the human struggle. There's a bad seed in the group (I think his name is Derrick), who constantly tries to steal food and weapons, and for some inexplicable reason, is always allowed back into the group. He gets a few goofs to follow him and heads out into the surrounding woods. Derrick's a troubled soul. Fortunately, the rest of the group has a fiendish plan for how to deal with him. Now, I don't know about you, but if I am faced with a zombie attack and I got some pencil-dick stealing my food and ammo, it's all over for him. My boy is gonna get a one-way trip off the roof, end of story. But that's just me. Why they allow this winner to keep causing trouble is beyond me. This humans-can't-manage-to-work-together angle is a trifle annoying, but it doesn't de-rail the film.

No, it's in the acting department that Zombie Night takes a serious hit. Bangkok hookers do a better job of playacting than the cast of Zombie Night. I mean really, people, these meatbags might as well have been holding the script in their hands and reading from it. That may have actually worked better. Look for one character to lash out and speak to God aloud, questioning why humans have been forsaken. It is truly the William Hung moment of thespian artistry. At some point during his soul-depleting soliloquy, I felt actual physical pain from the performance. But hey, these guys are not actors, just dudes with a dream. I respect that.

There is one brief scene, however, that acts as the yang to the terrible yin of the acting. As people join the survivors (you can't really keep track; one moment there's five and then there's, like, 22), fresh new faces start to pop up. Well, one of these newbies decides to get it on with her boyfriend. And in a scene that completely justifies the film's existence, as she sits atop him, her 1-megaton naked cleavage swings freely. This scene saves the film, and refreshes you for its conclusion. I know there's a zombie plague going on and all, but man, it just goes to show you that there's nothing so urgent that we don't have time for a gratuitous shot of naked breasts. It's what separates us from the zombies, people!

Now, I ain't gonna lie to ya. Zombie Night is not zombie-flick perfection. In fact, it's far from it. But it stays true to its rules, and it does a lot with very little. Beneath the rough exterior, there's a fairly decent zombie flick yearning to breathe free. Fans of the genre will be patient enough to try to find it. Others can just ogle the naked chick having sex in the shelter. So you see, there's a little something for everyone. How can you lose?

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

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 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
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