Wednesday, August 31, 2016

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: MPI Media 
Release Date: September 6th 2016 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated

Duration: 84 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-MA 2.0, DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.00:1) 

Director: Kyle Rankin
Cast: Maria Thayer, Michael Cassidy, Ray Wise, Syd Wilder, Chris Marquette

The indie zombie comedy Night of the Living Deb (2015) comes by way of director Kyle Rankin who brought us the bug-horror comedy Infestation back in 2009 and it all begins on the night of Fourth of July as quirky ginger Deb (Maria Thayer) and her ugly Christmas sweater wearing friend Ruby (Julie Brister) are having a few drinks at a local bar. The horny Deb spots pretty boy hipster Ryan (Michael Cassidy) across the bar and is prodded by her ironic gal pal to make her move, which she does, she makes an awkward introduction and manages to anger Ryan's high-maintenance finance Stacy (Syd Wilder) who dumps him on the spot. 

Flash forward to the next morning a somewhat discombobulated Deb awakes in Ryan's bedroom a bit unsure of what happened the night before but happy to be there just the same. She plays cute while poor Ryan kindly tries to find a way to give her the one-night regret brush-off in the nicest possible way, he's too kind. However, Deb is a bit on thick side and doesn't go away gracefully. eventually they go there separate ways, Ryan heads off to the local coffee spot while Deb jumps in her 70s gas-guzzler car named Otis. It doesn't take long for both to realize that something odd has happened in the neighborhood, they've woken up to a zombie apocalypse, with Ryan finding his favorite barista munching on a human foot and Deb cannot help but notice this year's 4th of July parade includes locals eating each other. 

Reluctantly united out of fear the two head for Ryan's father's house, dad is played by the venerable Ray Wise (Twin Peaks), his character Frank runs the city water treatment plant whose crooked dealings may have something to do with the outbreak of gut-munching. Arriving at his father's place Ryan must contend with his dad's disappointment in his lifestyle, while also trying to keep things civil with his dip shit dude-bro brother Chaz (Chris Marquette, Fanboys) and his ex whom has also holed up at his father's home when the human-hungry hordes arrived on scene. 

The movie is a smart and breezy, more along the lines of Warm Bodies than Romero's 
Dawn of the Dead, a charming comedy about two people finding an awkward sort of love during a zombie outbreak without lowering itself to the level of an annoying parody. In my mind the key the movie's success is the chemistry between actors Maria Thayer and Michael Cassidy who play off each other perfectly, great casting choices. Thayer is so awkward and awesome, her interactions with the somewhat prissy Ryan brought to mind the chemistry between The Kid and Apple in Turbo Kid (2015). Thayer is far and away my favorite part of the movie, playing her role with a mix of sweet ditziness and playful sarcasm. Meanwhile Ray Wise's character is initially painted as the face of corporate evil but Wise manages to give the guy some more depth and quirky charm than was probably in the script, the guy can do a lot with just a little, I love all of his line deliveries, weird and heartfelt all in the same breath 

At certain points it does seems the threat of being eaten by zombies takes a backseat the family turmoil and awkward  love story, coming back into play only to give some slight menace to the proceedings and to take a minute or two to poke fun at zombie conventions, including one of the more basic ones which we as horror fans just take for granted, which comes into play during the final few scenes to comedic effect. 

Special Features: 

- Commentary with Writer/Director Kyle Rankin, Actor/Producer Micheal Cassidy, Actor Maria Thayer, writer Andy Selsor, and editor Tony Copolillo
- Bloopers
- Behind-The-Scenes
- Trailer 

The Blu-ray disc from MPI Media Group looks and sounds great, the release includes a cast and crew audio commentary track, a behind-the-scenes making of featurette, a blooper reel and the trailer for the movie. Don't be fooled by the generic artwork on the Blu-ray, this is a fun and goofily heart-warming zom-com with loads of charm. If you have a soft-spot for quirky red heads Maria Thayer might just steal your heart, this is a high recommend to the zombie comedy lovers out there, fun stuff.