Horrorible Review: “Rise of the Zombies”

Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!

Rise of the Zombies - 2012 movie poster

Rise of the Zombies

The Asylum studio blundered into the direct-to-video “mockbuster” (titles very similar to blockbusters) market a few years ago, and they make a pretty good living out of it as well as giving asylum to some recognizable tv actors.  For Rise of the Zombies we have Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl), Mariel Hemmingway, Levar Burton, Danny Trejo, French Stewart (3rd Rock from the Sun, Mom, The Middle) in a story of a lone scientist (Burton) and his protectors (Hemmingway, Trejo, Suplee) hiding from the zombie apocalypse on Alcatraz while the population of San Francisco gets eaten.  The horde crosses over – under, actually – the bay and causes the protectors to flee, hoping to reach an evacuation center so they can send help.

After twenty or thirty other The Asylum film trailers at the front of the disk, you will find this to be everything you want from a B movie. The acting is standard, and of course no one explained to Ms. Hemmingway that you don’t shoot a stockless shotgun from the shoulder.  Suplee plays an Airforce pilot who prays for help and explains about faith, in what I thought was an actual subtle joke that made me smile.  The Airforce has had a lot of issues these past few years with rabid evangelical officers denying rank to anyone who doesn’t pray the right way. Unfortunately, I read that The Asylum likes to include religious themes in their schlock so I guess it wasn’t a joke.  The only way for a low budget studio to simulate zombie apocalypse in a metropolis is to shoot VERY early in the day on the weekend, film in alleys and isolated beaches, and use cgi.  They did all these, but as you might expect the cgi was a little too obviously cheap. The zombies weren’t bad, but needed more coaching.

The low budget surely contributed to the gaps in logic, as when a character cuts off the meaty part of his forearm (you know, where all the muscles for moving your hand reside) and then uses his cell phone with that hand.  The cutting scene was gory and horrific if you like that kind of thing. The science sounds good, with a Star Trek alum’s technobabble expertise, but the scientific technique (aka research) is cringe worthy.

On the other hand, the gore is well done, and there were some frightening scenes.  Most of those came from people not bothering to be hyper-vigilant when face eating zombies might be right around the corner, but they still worked. The actors may not have brought their A game, but they’re good enough to be watchable even while slacking.

There were some interesting things in the film that I don’t remember seeing either in a zombie film or any film for that matter.  How often do you see an SUV flipping end over end down Lombard Street, or people (well, zombies) climbing up the Golden Gate Bridge rather than jumping into the water?  They didn’t stint on the zombies, with many running bodies, gory features and some interesting kills. If you can’t abide the thought of infant zombies, please don’t watch this.

Because the film reflects the typically low, low budget this studio works in, you should watch it with a bottle of cheap wine and Dollar Tree popcorn for an okay, not great, time.




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