Friday, January 31, 2014

REEL ZOMBIES (Synapse Films DVD) - Reel Zombies is Really Funny

I believe I have watched Reel Zombies in the incorrect order of operation as respects the other works of the filmmakers, and yet somehow I found this movie completely enlightening, humorous and entertaining. You see, the whole damn thing is about the making of the third film in the Zombie Night trilogy, and, since I haven’t seen Zombie Night 1 or 2, I feel like I’m missing out on a truly well orchestrated gag. Not to say that I absolutely would have to see either previous release to understand Reel Zombies, but I feel that I may to a disservice to Reel Zombies viewers in that I cannot compare this faux documentary to the previous, fictitious narratives. Again, not that you really need to see either one of the movies before Reel Zombies to get the joke or to appreciate the novelty with which Michael Masters and David J. Francis tell their story, but hopefully I’ll get the chance to enjoy their previous two movies. Synapse Films put out the DVD and added some nice extras to really fill out a solid release.

Synopsis from Synapse:

Independent underground filmmakers Mike Masters and David J. Francis (playing themselves) are eager to complete the third film in their ZOMBIE NIGHT film trilogy, a series of unsuccessful low-budget, shot-on-video gorefests. The problem, however, is a recent zombie apocalypse has taken over the world since their series began. The dead are rising from their graves and eating the living… for real this time! Masters and Francis embark on the production of their newest masterpiece anyway, only to discover shooting in a post-apocalyptic world offers many unforeseen challenges. Instead of giving up, they decide to capitalize on the cannibalistic catastrophe. No need for latex and fake blood when there’s an entire world of flesh eating undead to add realism to their film, and help save money on special effects costs!


Reel Zombies isn’t a real documentary, but according to the carefully constructed film within a film, the zombies are actually REAL! It is a low budget faux documentary about the making of a low budget zombie movie that turns into a zombie movie. That’s pretty damn meta, and it works well. This is the kind of refreshing take on the zombie genre that even zed word haters can get behind. The performances are funny. There are some excellent looking boobs. The makeup is shitty, but that actually ADDS to the charm. You know it’s a low budget movie about making a low budget movie so your expectation is set so low that you can actually let yourself laugh. The movie may lose you at times to outlandish stunts and some moments that might be a bit too tongue and cheek, camp or hokey, but it pulls you back just as quick with some original plot devices.

Yes, Lloyd Kaufman makes an appearance, but these guys actually rip on the very fact that you should include Lloyd Kaufman just to include him on the title card. Brilliant. Well played sirs. The banter between Michael Masters and David J. Francis is funny, but I think it also makes a statement about the behind the scenes of an independent features.  Stephanie Hawkins is a keeper. Reel Zombies is critical of the process of filmmaking and of the subgenre in which it is included. This kind of self-reflexive horror has been doing well, and while it doesn’t produce moments of terror, it provides a vehicle to discuss the genre at large.

The disc contains audio commentary from Mike Masters and David J. Francis as well as Producer Stephen Papadimitrou. There are also 40 minutes of Deleted Scenes and Outtakes and the original trailer. The info you get from these extras helps to create an appreciation for this effort. You’re dealing with fun guys who aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves

Reel Zombies is a call to watch Zombie Night and it’s sequel, but for those of you who are fed up with poor undead flicks, this pokes all the right fun and makes all the correct critiques. It’s entertaining enough to allow you to enjoy the criticism but informative enough to feel fresh. It’s not truly a horror picture. This isn’t going to scare most folks, and I’m sure it will get hated by the Z subgenre hounds, but in this instance those hounds will be wrong.

You can order Reel Zombies NOW! Releases February 11th.

-Doc Terror

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