This Halloween weekend the SyFy Channel premiered director Nick Lyon’s Rise of the Zombies, which in the gluttony of recently released zombie films isn’t bad and far better than Lyon’s last SyFy presented horror film, Zombie Apocalypse.
Two months after a water borne virus has turned most of San Francisco’s population into the living dead, a group of survivors from the Alcatraz refugee camp are forced to flee when The Rock is overrun by the undead—with exception to microbiologist Dr. Dan Halpern (Lavar Burton), who stays behind to find a cure for his infected daughter that results in tragic consequences.
Escaping on a life raft and landing on the shoreline near the San Francisco Bay Bridge, half the group decides to follow the not-so-likeable Caspian (Danny Trejo) to an evacuation point in Petaluma, while the rest, lead by marine biologist Dr. Lynn Snyder (Mariel Hemmingway), go in search for an eccentric virologist (French Stewart), who possibly has discovered a vaccine. One by one both groups get whittled down until there are only three survivors.
Rise of the Zombies, originally titled Dead Walking, in not without flaws. However, the production values are surprisingly good—having been partly shot in San Francisco, Geoffery Mark’s (Spider-Man 3, Serenity) visual effects team did an exceptional job as did Frances Ferris and his team with their better than average makeup effects. The cast is solid and the acting believable, and the film has some unexpected gore; Dr. Halpern slicing off a piece of arm flesh to feed his infected daughter and stomping on a newborn zombie baby.
Now for the ratings…
Zombie Content: 7 – They run, they walk, they rip out your guts and they’re everywhere.
Entertainment Value: 6 – This mid-budget, made-for-TV movie is better than average with some gory visual effects and above average makeup.
Defense and Tactics: 7 – Evasion, shotguns, pistols, grenades, machete, hatchet, trench shovel and vehicles, however, no tactical approach to their killing; grant it they are untrained civilians.
Overall Rating: 20 out of 30 – Better than most zombie films that have been recently released with a fairly solid script and a cast that can act. Worth the watch.
Rise of the Zombies
Directed by Matthias Hoene
Writer: Matthias Hoene (original idea), James Moran (screenplay) and Lucas Roche (screenplay)
Cast: Ethan Suplee, Mariel Hemingway, LeVar Burton, Danny Trejo, Heather Hemmens, French Stewart and Chad Lindberg
Run Time: 89 minutes
DVD Release Date: Blu-ray & DVD, September 3, 2013