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Blu-ray Review: Zombie Apocalypse

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There was a time when I would hear that a movie was being produced by The Asylum, and I would scoff, laugh a bit, and move along. Those attitudes have changed somewhat. You see, I do enjoy my fair share of cheesy movies and The Asylum certainly delivers in that regard, just check out the likes of Transmorphers and HG Wells’ War of the Worlds for a couple of examples. They often team with SyFy, another fine purveyor of trashy, low-budget genre fare. This time out they bring us Zombie Apocalypse, an entertaining exercise in CG gore and zombie blasting fun.

Zombie Apocalypse is set in America (of course) following a virus outbreak that wipes out the majority of human population. This is shown through a series of clips during the opening credits before we are introduced to the first of our survivors. That is about all the back story you get, this movie is not about what happened, it isn’t even really much about anything. It is simply about a shrinking group of survivors trying to get to Catalina where they have heard is a safe quarantine zone.

Essentially, the movie has our dwindling group of survivors fighting a horde of the undead, running, stopping for a little conversation, running, fighting more zombies, briefly stopping, and fighting more zombies. It is fairly simple and straightforward, much like a video game without controls.

I will give some credit to the writers, Brooks Peck and Craig Engler. The characters, thin as they may be, are given a touch of personality which helps raise the overall product a bit. Yes, most of them are there as fodder, but they occasionally demonstrate a spark of personality. It actually helps you feel just a little bit for them.

Overall, this is a movie dominated by running and excessive spurts of computer generated blood. It is a movie that requires no thinking or any actual involvement. Sit back and count the exploding heads! It is nice to see the variety of weapons used to dispatch the undead. In particular, I liked the use of a samurai sword. In my opinion swords are not used nearly enough in zombie movies. Oh yes, there is also the 50-caliber gun mounted on a shopping cart!

Now, the movie is not completely devoid of star power. As the first survivors appear onscreen, I recognized one immediately. Eddie Steeples with his signature hair was there on the screen, you may know him better as Crabman from My Name is Earl. Next to him is Taryn Manning, probably best known for her turn in Hustle & Flow. When the first zombie attack arrives we see the biggest name of the bunch, Ving Rhames, complete with his weapon of choice, the sledgehammer. It was actually kind of funny, I did not know he was in this and first thought it was somebody who just looked like him.

Audio/Video. The video is presented in a 1.78:1 ratio and is a decent high definition transfer. The image sports decent detail, but is not terrible well defined. Don’t get me wrong, it looks good, just not great. It sports the look of a low budget feature. The colors tend to the washed out, none of them could be described as anything close to vibrant. It really is a workmanlike product, it does the job, it just won’t win any awards.

The audio operates in much the same way. It is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track with heavily centered dialogue and little in the way of ambiance. The surrounds do not get that much of a workout here. It does is job, the dialogue is clear and the gunshots (including that 50 caliber) have a nice punch, just do not expect to be immersed.

Extras. There are a couple of bits included for your enjoyment. There is a brief making of featurette that runs a robust 4:33 and includes some interview footage and behind the scenes clips. It is not terribly in depth and could safely be skipped. There is also a brief one-minute gag reel. Finally there is a selection of trailers for other films from The Asylum.

Bottomline. This is actually a decent movie. It is not classic or anything close to that level, but it is a fun diversion for the genre fan. There are a couple of references to other horror films that were a nice touch, as was the goofiness at the end. I wouldn’t go out of my way for it, but I also wouldn’t turn it off.

Mildly Recommended.

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