Zombies have existed on film in several time periods over the past nearly 50 years. I’ve seen medieval zombies in Army of Darkness. I’ve seen future zombies in Resident Evil. And I’ve even seen black and white ’60s era zombies with Night of the Living Dead. But there are many other time periods that have gone unrepresented. I’m not saying those films don’t exist, just that I’ve never seen them…until today.
This week, a film hits DVD that mixes a bit of a Western with the zombie horror genre and does it extremely well. Exit Humanity pits Edward Young (Mark Gibson, Monster Brawl and TV’s Psych), Isaac (Adam Seybold, TV’s Stock and Awe and The Smart Woman Survival Guide), Emma (Jordan Hayes, TV’s Nikita and Flashpoint, plus the upcoming House at the End of the Street) against a post-Civil War-era zombie outbreak in the south.
Edward managed to survive the war only to find himself in a battle with the walking dead. With the war done, he wanted peace and quiet to spend time with his wife and son. But like all good things, that peace came to a sudden end when a zombie attacked his home while he was away. To say that left a mark on him would be an understatement. With everything ripped away and his humanity slipping, he sets off on one final mission…
Along the way he battles zombies galore and meets Isaac, a man obsessed with rescuing his sister Emma from a madman (General Williams, TV’s Days of Our Lives and many movies, including the 1990 version of Night of the Living Dead and Army of Darkness). Isaac asks for Edward’s help and the two set off to rescue Emma, stumbling across the secret behind the zombie outbreak in the process. Also appearing in the film is Dee Wallace (Eve) who has been in numerous TV roles and films over the years including E.T. and Cujo. And to top the film off you have narration by Brian Cox (Braveheart, Troy, and so many others).
Quite honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect with Exit Humanity, but loved the idea of a Civil War-era zombie movie. And I’m glad I watched. It has to be one of the best zombie movies I’ve seen in a long time. It has heart. The characters come across as real people. And the production values were spot-on regardless of how low the budget may have been. For me, that’s the secret to a good film. Characters, more than special effects, have to pull us into the story and hold us there with the little things. There are quiet moments here that captured my attention and held it throughout the film.
The film is broken into different “chapters” as the narrator reads Edward’s journal, which has been passed down from generation to generation. Each time we come to a new chapter, as well as a few other places, there is some rotoscoped and seemingly hand-drawn animation that really brings across the brutality of some parts of the story even more than messily dispatching multiple zombies with blunt weapons and firearms.
My one criticism is that I was amazed at how good a shot everyone was. We had ball ammunition revolvers as well as the newer “Colt” variety, plus shotguns and rifles. Edward was an amazing distance shot with his revolver, getting a head shot nearly every time. Given the period, the unreliable nature of Civil War-era weapons, and the fact that these people were fighting for their lives I expected a few more misses. But that’s a minor nit in the grand scheme of things.
In addition to two commentary tracks (one with director John Geddes and actors Adam Seybold and Mark Gibson, the other with Geddes and producers Jesse Thomas Cook and Matt Wiele), there is a great “making of” feature called “Blood Sweat and Tears.” It really shows some of the hardships they faced with weather and general conditions where they were shooting, as well as the bond that formed between the cast and crew.
If you like zombie films, I’d definitely encourage you to check out Exit Humanity when it’s released on DVD on Tuesday, June 19th.