Saturday, February 9, 2013

DVD Review: MIMESIS: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (2010)

MIMESIS - NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (2010) 

Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: R
Duration: 95 Minutes
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 
Director: Douglas Schulze
Cast: Allen Maldonado, Lauren Mae Shafer, Taylor John Piedmonte, David G.B. Brown, Courtney Gains
Tagline: Why watch a horror movie when you can live one? 


Synopsis: What begins as a horror convention after-party for a group of fans will quickly become a genuine flesh-and-blood nightmare: Trapped inside an isolated farmhouse, they must now survive attacks by hordes of hungry zombies while desperately attempting to escape. But is this gore-soaked siege a twisted prank, an elaborate trap, or has Night of the Living Dead actually come to undead life? Sid Haig (The Devil's rejects) and Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn) star in this award-winning indie shocker from co-writer/director Douglas Schulze that walks the razor-sharp line between edgy homage and depraved reality...then proceeds to rip its guts out. 

When George A. Romero's seminal chiller Night of the Living Dead (1968) fell into the public domain following it's initial release due to an unfortunate copyright snafu little did anyone realize just what a classic had been unleashed upon the world, it changed the face of modern horror.  Pretty sure at that time no one realized either just how often it would be re-used and re-purposed by aspiring filmmakers in the decades to follow. How many times have you watched a film and the characters are either at the theater or at home watching TV and the film on the screen is NOTLD? Hundreds of times,  - it's rampant. Why? It's pretty simple, they don't have to pay Romero and any royalties, it's in the public domain. It's this status as a horror freebie that has allowed film distributors to proliferate the market with unapproved versions of the film on DVD and for aspiring filmmakers to remake, re-use and re-purpose the film for better or worse.


Some of the not-so-great in my estimation were  NOTLD: Re-Animation (2012), Night of the Living Dead 3D (2006) and NOTLD co-writer John A. Russo's NOTLD: 30th Anniversary Edition featuring newly filmed scenes and a new score - what a pile of shit, too

Versions of the film that were quite a bit more successful were 80's effects master turned director Tom Savini's NOTD (1990), a remake of the film penned by George A. Romero himself, it's a grim film with some nice touches, a few key pieces are askew but the film is fantastic. Another nice entry is the  neat animated feature NOTD: Reanimated (2010) featuring a wild array of different animation styles laid over the film's original score/dialogue - it's an uneven affair but it's arguably doing something different the film other than cashing i on it's cult classic status. 

This brings us to Douglas Schulze's Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead (2010) a film that definitely falls into the latter category of something unique and potentially quite wonderful. Two young men attend a horror convention where they watch a q+a with horror icon Alphonze Betz played by veteran horror actor Sid Haig who makes at least his second appearance in a NOTLD remake/re-purpose following the aforementioned and dreadful NOTLD 3D. The two men in the audience are horror nerd Russell (Taylor Piedmonte) and his best friend Duane (Allen Maldonado) who is more there to hit on sexy goth girls than anything else, not really a horror fan at all. If it's sexy Goth girls Duane craves he's it pay-dirt when super-cute Goth vixen Judith (Lauren Mae Shafer) invites them to a party out in the middle of nowhere. Arriving at the farmhouse the two enjoy a night of horror-themed debauchery, it's a great night for the guys - until they black out and awaken the next day dressed in different clothes and trapped in a weird re-creation of George A. Romero's cult classic film where the kills are only too real for those who's strings are being manipulated by forces not yet understood.

It's a pretty sweet premise for a film and there's a lot of promise to the story, too. I love how the characters are cast as certain characters from NOTLD but are just slightly askew, it's a clever homage to be certain  The acting is quite good, not excellent but I bought into the film, so no complaints there. The script is quite self-aware, this is a film made by horror fans for horror fans and it's fun stuff. The gore-hounds will be pleased, too - there's plenty of blood n' guts on display and there's a nice smattering of comedy peppered throughout. 

It's shot on the cheap but the cinematography is excellent and the shoe-string budget doesn't show much visually. The hiccups along the way for me were some annoying editing in the way of artificial ramping up and slowing down of the film, it's way overused and only drew attention to itself. Another debit on the film is that the twist is broadcast early on but it doesn't detract from what a neat concept we have on our hands here. It's not perfect but aside from a few minor quibbles this was a fun watch with some fun appearances by Sig Haig and Courtney Gains of Children of the Corn. While it's not even close to attaining the gory glory of the '90 remake it's thankfully not plumbing the depths of NOTLD 3D either. 3 Outta 5

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