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Bluray Review: ZOMBIE NIGHT (2013)

The Doctor | 31 December 2013 | DVD/BluRay Reviews, Movie Lounge | | 0 Comments   

MV5BMTY1Njg5MzQ0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTg1MDA1MDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_ZOMBIE NIGHT (2013)
BY
SHAWN FRANCIS

Zombies are my least favorite movie monsters. They always have been. Having said that I will also admit I do own a small collection of their movies: Return Of The Living Dead (1985), Night Of The Living Dead (1990), Dawn of The Dead (2004), Dead And Buried (1981), Resident Evil (2002), and the pseudo-zombie flick, Planet Terror (2007).

And now Feast trilogy director, John Gulager, adds his two cents to the sub-genre with Zombie Night. He doesn’t attempt to redefine it other than tweaking the myth ever so slightly with the idea that once daylight comes the walking dead return to their normal, inert, non-malicious state; personally I thought it was a nice slice of, or more precisely a nice ‘night in the lives of’ that chronicles two families desperately trying to keep themselves alive, and in one piece, over the period of a single night as corpses begin returning to life and feeding on the flesh of the living.

The movie begins precisely at sundown and ends precisely at sun-up. One family led by Joseph, (Alan Ruck from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the series, Spin City) are all together at their house. He has a wife named, Karin (Jennifer Taylor) a teenage son named, Perry (Daniel Ross Owens), and a younger child by the name of Nathan (Gibson Bobby Sjobeck). They have a panic room and Joseph simply cannot get his eldest son to join them in it because he told his girlfriend he’d wait for her downstairs until she showed up.

The second family led by Patrick Jackson (Anthony Michael Hall from Weird Science, National Lampoon’s Vacation) is, unfortunately, split up. His wife, Birdie (Daryl Hannah from Splash and Memoirs Of An Invisible Man fame) and Birdie’s blind mother, “Nana” (Shirley Jones from The Partridge Family) is home waiting for Patrick and their daughter, Tracie (Rachel G. Fox) and Tracie’s friend, Rachel (Meg Rutenberg), to return. They’re all in a car coming home from some unknown destination and on the cusp of learning the dead have risen.

The big plan is for all of them to hole up in Joseph’s panic room, but as is the case with all “big plans” monkey wrenches are bound to find their way into them, and in this case those wrenches inevitably lead to tragedy.

Along with the two families the movie breaks away for a few scenes to follow the exploits of a local cop who has a pretty rough time of it as he fends off the ambulatory corpses and in the process—SPOLIER—gets a little girl killed. In this film, the bite of a zombie does not turn you, only death in it’s many forms will convert you harking back to Romero’s original, if I recall. And now this poor, zombiefied, little girl must be dealt with in the harshest of manners.

Gulager’s real-life main squeeze, Diane Ayala Goldner, makes a cameo as doomed Officer Johnson and I’m almost sure Gulager’s father, Clu, makes a cameo, too. There’s a very brief close-up of a zombie who bears an awful resemblance to the man.

The movie has its ups and downs, moments where I lost interest and moments where it grabbed me again, but there were enough moments of being grabbed that I found myself enjoying the flick as a whole. Of course my opinion may be in the extreme minority. I have yet to read a review lately that gives it a thumbs up. It reminds me of Brian Yuzna’s Amphibious: Creature Of The Deep (2010). I loved that movie despite all the bad reviews I had read.

There was also a moment where I finally realized Anthony Michael Hall was in it. I had only vaguely paid attention to the opening credits and at about the 40-minute mark, I said to myself, “Holy shit, that’s Anthony Michael Hall!” And then remembered he was supposed to be in it.

All the zombie FX is practical with only a smidge of CGI thrown in (i.e. a sword kill, some spurts of blood, a car explosion at the end which gets augmented by computer). There was only one effect I thought that didn’t work and it involved a legless zombie that shimmies up the back of Tracie’s friend. First off his weight alone should have driven the girl to the ground and secondly the cable effect made him look more like he was levitating.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed John Gulager’s fifth movie and obviously it ends in such a way you could conceivably do a sequel. I wouldn’t mind seeing one as long as he directs it.

This originally debuted on the SyFy channel back in October and it hit DVD and Blu-Ray separately courtesy of The Asylum Entertainment early in December. It says ‘Unrated Version’ on the top of the cases, and there does seem to be some subtle gore additions, like holding longer on a gore effect.

The what I assume is the 1080p high definition 1.78:1 transfer is a hell of a lot better looking than the SyFy airing. Audio options are 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio only. No subtitles. Extra features consist of The Making Of Zombie Night (7:25) and a Gag Reel (1:02).

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