Rise of the Undead (2005)
By: Markus Zussner on November 3, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
York (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3 Non-anamorphic English DD 2.0. 91 minutes
The Movie
Directors Jason Horton, Shannon Hubbell
Starring: Whitney Getz, Kyle Jemison, Skye Jordan, Chantal Koerner, J. Brandon Maughon, Christian Recile, Leonard Zanders, Mark Karem
Screenplay: Jason Horton, Shannon Hubbell Music: Maximilian Kabong
Tagline: Flee or face the creature inside.
Country: USA
Romero, Romero where art thou Romero. Certainly not here that's for sure, but don't get me wrong, this doesn't have to be a bad thing. George Romero has a lot to answer for as far as setting standards for zombie movies are concerned. He has created a whole folklore for living dead tales. Just like the standard vampire movie uses fangs, stakes through the heart, garlic, silver crosses, coffins and lethal daylight, Romero has popularised the fatal zombie bite which turns its victims into one of the undead, the awkward stiff zombie shuffle with the occasional floppy limb, and brain damage by bludgeon or shot to the head to take them down. There have been many Romero rip-offs; some of them good but most fail miserably. There's nothing wrong with sticking to the rules put down by the master, and in most cases it would be intelligent to follow these rules, but remember, what makes Romero's zombie movies great is not just the guts and gore but the drama and the underlying theme that unfolds within the body of the movie. Most undead movies follow the standard rules and lay on the gore but they fail in the storyline department. By all means make a traditional Z movie but make sure there's a whole lot more going on other than blood and guts otherwise the audience may go outside and shoot themselves in the head. Take a look at Kathryn Bigelows Vampire masterpiece Near Dark. She threw all the normal conventions of a vampire movie right out the window and reinvented the whole idea, which makes Near Dark stand out on its own and is one of the best vampire movies ever made. No Crosses, garlic, or fangs in this movie. Now I just looove zombie movies, but with the over saturation in the marketplace of below par shoot-em-in-the-head movies I am beginning to tire of this genre, but it still doesn't stop me from getting my hands on every one that comes my way in the hope (vague hope) that one will deliver the goods, especially one that may reinvent the whole genre. I had hopes for Rise of the Undead. Not high hopes, but some hope. In the end there was little hope to no hope at all. Rise of the Undead tries to be its own unique shuffling dead movie and fails miserably. I have seen other reviews that are real kind on this movie because it is made by first time film makers, but I have seen low budget horror films made by first time film makers that rock, so there's no reason for me to be soft on Rise of the Undead and treat it with kid gloves. I mean look what they did with The Blair Witch Project. Three actors, some twigs, no SPFX, and a handy cam, and it scared the shit out of me.

Rise of the Undead starts well enough with a massive unexplained world catastrophe. The opening of the film shows the whole world burning up in a scorching inferno via Playstation computer graphics. Wether it's a nuclear holocaust, a science experiment gone wrong, comet collision, or the hand of god, it's unclear and left for the viewer to exercise their imagination (which I like). A group of survivors find themselves in a top secret government facility pushing the doors shut on the inferno outside. Now we have this establishing shot of a totally gutted and burnt out city that looks like a struck match or your kid just torched his Lego set with a flamethrower, which makes me wonder how this building alone survived. Now that the Producers have used up nearly their entire budget of the film on the opening sequence, they decide to kill off one of their characters immediately to recoup some of the funds and tell the actors that from now on they all bring their own lunch. As the survivors secure the door, they find one of their party writhing around on the floor covered in blood and having convulsions. She blurts out a line and dies. I bet she wished she didn't take on this gig. I can't figure out how this happened. If anything she should have been scorched from all the fire and brimstone, but she doesn't have a burn mark on her. Enter stage left the mad scientist, who tells our survivors that they have entered a highly secure top secret government facility and that they would be better off outside. Ok, I got a problem with this as well. If it is a highly secure top secret facility, how the hell did these guys just waltz in there? The security doors look exactly like the lock-down doors you see in high schools. Yeah right, that'll keep James Bond out. Now that we are about ten minutes into the film I'm starting to get this ache in my skull, you know, right behind the eyes. The scientist dude tells them that they have been doing all sorts of nasty experiments and that all the staff have been killed and something nasty is wandering the corridors, and it's very hungry. Now this is the part where everybody bickers and argues as to what they should do for an annoying amount of time, with the exception of the injured biker that can't stop gawking at the blonde girls tits and making sexual references. Perhaps he had the right idea. Well nobody wants to go outside so they make the decision to take a tour through the facility to find a way out? What!? Have these guys got short memories or what. Off go our intrepid explorers. Now this is the part where the undead make their debut. In a dark corridor which our characters are about to enter, the undead just kind of pop out of all the doors in unison as if the director just said, "and zombies pop out, now!". Man, this exerted a huge laugh out of me. I actually thought that the zombies were going to break into song and dance, which probably wouldn't have been a bad thing. Well the cast get munched on by unconvincing zombies quite quickly (none of these guys went to zombie training school). It is obvious that the zombies are the staff of the facility back from the dead because they are all wearing lab coats and stuff. About 45 minutes into the film the last man is standing, and I think the movie is over, great! But the joke is on me because the first 45 minutes of the film is actually our lead character having a nightmare in the foyer of the science facility where our movie began! Oh no! Everyone is alive again and I have to go through this terrible ordeal all over. If this is an attempt at being clever or artsy fartsy, it fails miserably. It comes across as being just plain stupid and very cruel on the viewer, namely me.

The zombies are a non event. They come across as boring and unconvincing and the whole zombie makeup affair is sloppy. The back cover of the DVD, shows some great zombie makeup work (on the supporting actress of the movie so I already knew what was going to happen to her before I even stuck the disc in the player) but you won't find any of this makeup quality in the film. The zombies aren't the only menace to stalk the corridors and walkways. Something else is hunting them down and just as it is about to attack, the picture on my TV screen went black for about 10 seconds and when the picture does come back, we are minus a character. What the fuck? Step in scientist to explain that they created something horrible that is worse than the zombies and when it comes into a room all the electricity gets disrupted and cuts out. You mean you don't have a budget anymore because of your opening sequence to create an effective looking monster? Cheap, cheap, cheap I say. Finally we get to the end of the film. After numerous screen blackouts (please do not adjust your set) our lone survivor exits the building via the back door and walks out to, well somewhere I guess. The end is a direct rip-off from Cube. All I can say is, thank god it's all over.
Picture is standard digital issue, not bad, a bit grainy in parts and definitely has that digital handy cam feel to it. Again, nothing to write home to mama about.
Audio quality is fine. English with no subtitles. Stereo quality but I don't know what format. Nothing to write home to mama about.
Extra Features
Just the Trailer.
The Verdict
Rise of the Undead borrows from Resident Evil and Cube and is as predictably stupid as it is boring. It tries to be clever but fails at this in every corner. Minimal SPFX, no gore and very little blood is one of its major downfalls as these ingredients are severely needed in this type of film. The dialogue is wasted on idle chit chat rather than attempting to generate any real drama and it's hard to feel sympathy for any of the characters. The cover art on the DVD sleeve seems to mimic the cover art for Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead. With all good Zombie movie titles slowly being used up Rise of the Undead is a great name for a zombie movie, but then, what's in a name?
Movie Score
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