Well horror fans, it was only a matter of time before zombies entered the game here at the Necropolis Macabre. To be honest, I’ve been sort of holding back with zombie reviews. After all, there are so damn many of them, and there’s plenty of time to go through all of them. Not that I really plan to go through all of them however. I mean, do I need to review any of the classic Romero flicks, for example? I really don’t think so.
Rise of the Zombies was aired on the SYFY channel on October 27, 2012 as part of their “31 Days of Halloween” programming. I didn’t watch it myself at that time, but the movie was released on DVD and Blu-Ray February 12, so I decided it was as good a time as any to check it out and offer my thoughts.
Here’s the story: a group of people are holed up on Alcatraz Island in an effort to evade the army of the undead on the mainland. While they’re there, experiments are underway to try and figure out what caused the outbreak, and what can be done to stop it. Unfortunately, the island becomes overrun by the undead, and those who survive decide to try their luck on the mainland. All except for Doctor Halpern, who chooses to stay on Alcatraz to continue his experiments.
Not long after the group comes ashore, their collective intelligence level seem to dip, as they split up into two groups (because splitting up always works out in the end, right?). One group heads for a supposed safe zone, while the other goes into the city to find a scientist who’s locked himself away in a university and claims through an online video that he may have found a cure. Will everyone get to their destinations in one piece? Well of course not. What kind of respectable zombie flick lets a group of 8 people get away clean, especially when the group splits up?
This movie was made by The Asylum, and naturally that gave me initial cause to worry even before I started watching. My history with watching movies from The Asylum has been rather spotty, ranging from cheesy gold mines like Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, to less than stellar showings like Hansel & Gretel (here’s a quick mini-review of Asylum’s H&G: unless you’re a huge fan of Dee Wallace, avoid at all costs).
However, RotZ turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise. Let me count the ways. To start, the cast line-up was quite impressive. Asylum often has 1 or 2 big names per movie to draw an audience, but this time they went all out. Mariel Hemingway, LeVar Burton, Danny Trejo, Ethan Suplee, and French Stewart are the biggest names. As such, the acting was pretty solid through and through. There were one or two odd line deliveries throughout, but not much to outright groan about.
The zombies have your standard look about them, either decayed or fresh depending on when and how they died. The only exception being they all have white eyes for whatever reason. Another interesting point is that as soon as your bitten you’ll change fast, somewhere within 30 seconds. That sort of time frame makes for extra intensity, as the newly infected won’t really be able to help their friends, as they’re too busy getting zombified. And this movie has a lot of zombie killing action going on, with a lot of flesh being ripped, heads being shot and crushed, etc. There’s a later scene with a pregnant lady that was quite the sight, but I’ll not spoil that one. It’s clear the budget mainly went in special effects and the cast.
Alas, RotZ isn’t without its flaws. For one, the standard Asylum CGI is in effect. Highlights include the following: possibly one of the worst computer generated car crashes I’ve ever seen early on in the movie, and the scene of zombies climbing up the Golden Gate Bridge was just absurd. The last example also brings up the issue of how they can climb like that (one even climbed Spider-Man style, not even grabbing anything), yet have trouble infiltrating other buildings or obstacles that shouldn’t cause a problem. Then again, it’s a zombie flick by The Asylum, there’s no need to over-analyze such things.
I hope you didn’t expect a glowing review. All in all, Rise of the Zombies is just another entry in the zombie sub-genre. However, despite it’s flaws, I found this was still an entertaining way to kill 90 or so minutes, and so you should at least check it out sometime. It’s no Walking Dead, but it’s also no Return of the Living Dead 4 or 5 either.
Macabre Rating: 2.5 out of 5 tombstones