RUNNING TIME: 90 Minutes
•Making of documentary
Take the zombies from 28 Days Later, add aliens, mad scientists and the military, put them in a cursed hotel.
Director: Chris Conlee
Cast: Eric Peter-Kaiser, Sandra Ramirez, Tim Colceri, Noel G, Guillermo “Half Baked” Diaz, James Duval, Nathan Bexton, Jonathon “Jeepers Creepers” Breck, Billy “The Cult” Morrison
Military scientist Darren Hall (Peter-Kaiser) escapes the destruction of his military base with a vial of a chemical being used to create undead soldiers. Relocating to an apartment complex to continue his research he finds, unsurprisingly, that the same problems keep happening. Meanwhile the military finds he survived and took the substance with him, so they send one guy (Colceri) after him. All hell breaks loose after Darren revives a gang banger (Noel G) shot dead. It all leads to revelations of the chemicals true nature and lots of dead bodies.
I tend to consider myself a horror buff. Among the internet elite the breadth of my knowledge of all things horror might start to look less than all encompassing, but to the average person I’m considered highly knowledgeable. If there is one thing I know being a child of the genre it’s that I would be terrible at creating something fresh, original and capable of standing on its own in an overcrowded field. Trying to create something that wasn’t overtly referential and convoluted by association of collected knowledge should be the goal of more film makers. These things have become apparent since the beginning of the fan generation of film making.
Don’t get me wrong, film has for the majority of its life been populated by film fans. Some artists get into it because of the capabilities of the medium more than any inherent love of it above other available fields of work, but for the most part these are appreciators of film. The fan generation seems to be a more recent development. Spurred on by the sense of community the availability of these films and forums to discuss them has existed, they believe that homage is an art unto itself. In the hands of a talented film maker homage can be used in interesting and creative ways, but typically this is in service to something greater.
All this brings me to this film. For the most part it is both well made and well acted for the limitations of the budget. The sets are nothing special and many of the actors seem far too young to believably be playing the characters they’re given, but for something fun these faults are easy to over look. Unfortunately there is no reason to spend any time watching this film since it’s more interested in being a pale shadow of the classic that came before it.
Starting out at a military base we see a couple scenes of carnage with running zombies and a shaky camera that immediately brings to mind 28 Days Later. The protagonist Darren Hall escapes the bombing of the base which copies one of the final scenes of Return of the Living Dead right down to the freeze frames as the bomb hits. At least one blatant lift and plenty of homage all before the opening title credits, wonderful.
Arriving at an apartment complex named the Necropolitan (c’mon, really?) Darren meets the manager (Bexton) who goes on about things he shouldn’t know about concerning the history of the evil apartment and the circumstances of Darrens relocation. The apartment is populated most notably by three gang bangers and an enormously breasted woman named Maddie (Ramirez) who seems to immediately take a lust to Darren.
The purpose of the gang seems to be to provide some early tension and set in motion the second half action, otherwise they’re characterized by being aggressive, dumb or crazy. Darren himself seems at first to be some sort of combination of Herbert West and Dan Cain From Re-Animator but without the charm or motivation for why he does such dumb irresponsible things. Maddie is completely a blank, she tells us she watches a lot of television and dislikes boorish men, likewise she is never given much of a reason why she falls into bed so quickly with Darren other than Darren needing a love interest.
Once the leader of the gang Random (Noel G) gets gunned down in a disagreement (this happens almost immediately after develpoing a relationship with Darren, while he was stitching up a bullet wound of Randoms) Darren sees his chance to try his formula on a human, which he does. The military reasserts itself in the story, of course in the least believable fashion of sending one guy (Colceri) to destroy the formula and most likely Darren.
This is where the stupidest and least necessary part is revealed. The formula is actually an alien intelligence that animates the dead and is interested in conquering the earth. Which only seems to be the case because that was the writers idea of how to come at the concept of zombies from a new angle, nevermind how silly it is.
It really seems like three films are going on here. The collision of which is what is on screen. There is an apparently evil apartment complex story that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the movie, there is an alien invasion story that has almost nothing to add to the story, and of course it is a mad scientist and zombies story (ala Re-Animator). It was bad enough that the film was already as reference heavy as it was, but to have such an unclear story is unforgivable. Of course the final ‘fuck you’ is a lift from the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Avoid.
Trailers for the film and another film called Basement Jack are included on the disc. Making of documentary clocks in at around 25 minutes and details the involved parties and how they came to the project and a bit on the make-up and stunt work. Too much of the doc is spent talking about the haunted hospital they filmed in and the work of the people involved outside of the actual film. There is also a directors commentary although he all but admits he was a hired hand on the project and that it was the writers baby first and foremost.
Yep, that’s right. A parkour zombie.