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Zombie Apocalypse (2011)
22nd Jan 13
Ving Rhames and a bunch of other low paid actors enter the zombie apocalypse, Asylum studio style.
There’s been a zombie outbreak (it’s all over the news so it must be true) and three unlikely friends have been holed up at a cabin in the hills. They decide to come down to the town, to get supplies. When they arrive the place seems deserted, so Ramona keeps watch while Billy and Kevin look for supplies. She spots a zombie “guys…” and then she spots another zombie “Guys!” and they’re quickly over run. While Ramona screams Kevin, fumbling around badly with a shotgun, gets a chunk bitten out of his arm and Billy’s fate looks to be going to be going the same way until, what do you know, Ving Rhames suddenly turns up with his gang of survivors to save the day. His gang consist of, amongst others, a level headed military style guy, a young wise-cracking guy and a very hot Asian-American chick with knee high white boots and a white samurai sword like the one from Highlander. Before you can shout “Left 4 Dead!”, Kevin dies of his wound, turns (his eyes go all CGI white) and Ving Rhames has to finish him off, thus explaining the bite rules to Ramona and the audience. Here we go again.
The rest of the movie is very standard zombie stuff. The rules are explained clearly (shoot them in the head, don’t get bitten or you’ll turn and, intriguingly, watch the fresh zombies as the recently re-animated run a lot faster then their long dead counterparts), everyone grabs the nearest blunt implement and it’s slow chatty bit followed by a bit of zombie bashing all the way. Ving’s group had previously met another group who talked of the island of Catalina where there’s apparently no zombies so the ultimate goal is to get to the docks where a boat apparently comes once a week to collect survivors, although along the way the group seem to keep finding zombies with arrows sticking out of their eyes. It’s no surprise when they finally meet and join with a group who were at an archery class when the outbreak started, which proves to be a handy way to replenish the cast, replacing characters lost in random zombie attacks along the way.
As soon as you hear that Zombie Apocalypse is an Asylum picture straight for the SyFy channel, you’re probably already filled with dread, but surprisingly Zombie Apocalypse is a very watchable affair because, like all the best bad zombie films, when it’s good it’s good, and when it’s bad it’s quite funny. Take the opening zombie attack – Ramona screaming pathetically is quite amusing as Kevin shows us why you should never give a shotgun to someone called Kevin. When Ving Rhames and the oriental chick show up you can’t help but cheer, but did you notice for all the slicing and smashing they’re doing they never get any blood on their weapons? That’s not to say there’s no blood, there’s lots, but it all smells of post-production CG, which is a bit of a shame. The other CG thing they do at the start which is quite shocking is there’s a shot of a zombie taking one in the head, but the zombie is clearly CG superimposed over a background shot of zombies running, but from the slightly the wrong angle, making it look a bit rushed and cheap and shit. Yes, it’s that kind of movie – the kind where they shoot massive guns but the ammo belt doesn’t feed, and you can occasionally spot random people walking around in the background not completely out of shot. The kind where a character dies one minute and everyone’s devastated even though they’ve only just met, then the next a character that has known others for years goes and no one seems to bat an eyelid. It’s that sort of thing.
But despite the grumbles, Zombie Apocalypse is very watchable. The video game Left 4 Dead and the recent excellent zombie TV Series The Walking Dead are they key rip off sources here and that’s not a bad thing. Asylum appreciate that the way to engage a zombie audience is to keep the pace up, sprinkle zombie attacks throughout the movie, have a bunch of stereotyped characters that fight amongst themselves as much as the zombies, and have somewhere for them to go so they’re not wandering around aimlessly. Lose characters regularly to keep the viewers on their toes, add new ones, and have a big final fight at the end. Whoever thought it’d be a good idea to have the final fight against a dodgy CGI zombie tiger though needs to have their head examined. What were they thinking?
This movie does have its moments though. The zombies with arrows sticking out of their eyes are a nice touch, and the archery crew are good fun when they arrive, especially the leader who initially doesn’t want to merge groups, arguing that he doesn’t know if the main group can handle themselves, so doesn’t want to risk putting any of his people in jeopardy. Ving Rhames is amusing too, painting by numbers his way through the whole movie with very few lines, except for those he shares with the hot asian chick, who’s convinced she’ll meet up with her husband on Catalina. Taryn Manning is quite irritating as the female lead that one minute is hiding in the toilet, the next is having a go at the rest of the group for letting another member get overcome by zombies while she was in said toilet. It’s a bit silly. And yes, she does have a whiny voice and weird wobbly botoxed lips.
So, for an Asylum produced straight to SyFy zombie flick, it’s not a bad movie at all, if you know what you’re getting. It’s the kind of movie that, as a respectable lover of film, you know is pointless shit and you shouldn’t be watching it. But as a hardened zombie fan, there’s no way you’re reaching for the off button in any hurry. Guilty pleasure? Yes, and why not.