Thursday, January 23, 2014

DVD Review: REEL ZOMBIES (2008)


Label: Synapse Films
Release Date: February 11th 2014
Region: 0
Duration: 89 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Directors: Michael Masters. David J. Francis
Cast: Michael Masters, David J. Francis, Stephen Papadimitriou, Sam Hall, Paul Fler

Redbox, Netflix and the shelves at Best Buy are littered with low-budget found footage-type and zombie films - the market is stuffed to the gills with both. It should be no surprise that there are a number of mash-up movies that meld the two ideas,  it's not exactly a new conceit, For better or worse George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead and Zombie Diaries come to immediately to mind. Now filmmakers Michael Masters and David J. Francis have thrown their own hat into the ring with a mockumentary variation on the sub-genre exploiting the low-budget movie making process. Reel Zombies (2008) features  the co-directors of a shot-on-video zombie franchise exploiting the real-life zombie apocalypse happening around them. There's stoke of genius is to use the actual undead to amp up the production value of their schlocky zombie gore-fest. It's really a slice of pure inspiration and you just know Roger Corman would have done something very similar if the zombie apocalypse had happened during the New World Pictures golden age.  .

It goes for comedy straight from the get-go as the duo put together a script and rag tag film crew to get the production underway. Holding script meetings, location scouting and casting sessions requiring women to bare their assets. Sure, the zombie apocalypse is in full swing but its nice to know that some things never change. Along the way we experience the true-spirit of independent filmmaking in a very real way, you could actually learn quite a bit about making low-budget movies watching this one. Shot like a pretty typical behind-the-scenes documentary with interviews from cast and crew with clips from the previous Zombie Night movies stitched in alongside new raw footage from the new sequel in progress.  We see both the positive and negative of having actual zombies on set. Spoiler Alert! The downside is that the undead extras just might eat you if you're not careful, gotta love it. So whatya do when your star is eaten by a zombie - you get that shit on film obviously! 

The film sorta went where I figured it would with a  few surprises, but even if you're expecting it what you may not expect is just how fun the script and characters are. It's a fun variation on the mockumentary plus with a decent cast and the gore is pretty satisfying. There's a lot to enjoy including an appearance from Lloyd Kaufman as himself and some fun commentary on Troma and Lloyd built into the script. which is self-aware but not too clever for it's own good if you know what I mean. 

Special Features
- Audio Commentary with Directors Mike Masters and David J. Francis, and Producer Stephen Papadimitriou
- Over 40 Minutes of Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
Original Trailer

Verdict: A second watch of the movie confirmed that it holds up to repeat viewings, it's quite funny and the performances are spot on. If you enjoyed the mockumentaries Behind the Mask: The Rise and Fall of Leslie Vernon (2006) and Brutal Massacre: A Comedy (2007) I think this is a watch for you. 3 Outta 5