Movie Reviews 29 – Midnight Horror Zombie Collection

I picked up the Midnight Horror Collection which is one of those dual sided, 4 movies on a single DVD packages in which the movies all share a “Zombie” theme:

Last of the Living (2009)
This zombie comedy starts of with three young guys holed up in their apartment somewhere in New Zealand as zombies rule the streets and cities and, one would presume, the rest of the world . Aside from the occasional foray for food, music and movies, they don’t seem to do much. Of course all this changes when they unexpectedly run into a girl and her dad. “Dad” doesn’t last long, but the boys find out that the girl is on a mission to process some blood sample in a particular lab that she then intends to deliver to some remote island of survivors that can then somehow further process the blood for a cure to the zombie problem. Yeah, its all a bit foggy, but so is everything else about the movie. The first problem with this zombie comedy is that it isn’t very funny. With the ‘comedy’ aspect gone from the zomcom, all you’re left with is a zombie movie. But for that to succeed on it’s own, it has to be interesting and a have an actual story to tell. And that’s the second problem. There is really nothing of substance to the rest of movie. A lackluster survival run purportedly to deliver the serum ends in a heartbeat complete with a nonsensical ending to the movie. I think it would have been almost better to just keep filming the boys holed up in their apartment. At least some of their jokes were borderline funny before they left their pad.

I am Omega (2007)
The title is a riff on the great “I am Legend” Richard Matheson masterpiece and the second adaption of said novel, the classic “Omega Man”. Timed to coincide with the release of the latest movie adaption starring Will Smith, the obvious knock off seemed to have little promise. But even a few minutes into the film watching star Mark Dacasos, a fit martial arts expert and former Karate champ with at least some acting cred, it was evident that some serious effort was put into this film, and while still not a great movie by any stretch, it was worth watching. For those not familiar with the novel (shame on you!) and who have never seen the prior adaptations (“The Last Man on Earth” (1964) starring Vincent Price, “Omega Man” (1971) with Charleton Heston, or even the pale in comparison Will Smith effort that kept the original “I am Legend” (2007) title) it’s a simple yet effective premise. What if you are the last man on Earth after living through a Zombie (or Vampire as in the original novel) outbreak? The movies all have their variants on the theme, but in each case, the last man on Earth really isn’t the last and does find other humans. What makes this installment particularly interesting is the wavering sanity of our protagonist, Renchard, who has lived in isolation far too long. This brings into question the reality of the efforts by others alive to communicate with him. The movie then winds down with him evading a bunch of crazed, back country hicks with their own views of how the world should be run. And there’s the pretty chick to deal with of course. Because what’s the point of even going through the survival rigamarole if there is no hope for humanity in the long term and you really can’t do that without a woman, right? Some flaws, but still by far the best movie in the lot.

Awaken the Dead (2007)
A pretentious piece of self indulgent drivel of a movie that tries to take in way too much. Starts off boring and goes downhill from there. A mysterious unseen man leaves cryptic notes to his estranged daughter and onetime best friend, now a booze guzzling priest, that results in them being united in his old house. Before you can blink there is a zombie infestation in the streets and a lucky few that seek refuge in the home with the two. While locked up in the house they notice that there is one guy out in the streets taking notes who also seems impervious to the zombies. They continue to find clues left behind that ultimately leads them to be reunited with the mystery man who has a explanation for everything that has happened. But I lost all interest long before the ending and only plugged along until the very end hoping that it would somehow tie in all nicely. Instead there was some lame ass ‘experiment’ going on with even lamer explanations. It’s a sad testament when the only empathic character is the dorky Jehovah Witness dude thrown in for comic relief.

Grave Mistake (2008)
For a while, I thought that the title would be indicative of my decision to watch this movie. It falls squarely in the realm of “Zombies take over a small town” movies with the usual rag-tag crew of humans one step ahead of being assimilated. But I hung on for a while and most of the annoying aspects were either self corrected (I’m thinking of the lisping village idiot who wrote the “Zombie survival Guide” who, thankfully gets mauled very early in the movie), or quickly dissipated as the movie developed a somewhat believable sequence of events or at least what passes for believable in a Zombie flick. Someone got a little to cutesy with some of the CGI effects, going to the point of overlaying license plates and signage that do not follow their reference points, but other effects and gore work quite well. I’ll also give credit to the writers from straying from the obvious and throwing some bona fide twists. Now if you’re asking me whether I’m actually recommending this movie, that’s a tougher call. If you really must watch another Zombie town infestation movie, then I guess this’ll fit the bill.

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