If you’re craving some zombie flicks you haven’t seen yet, here are four options I indulged in. Let’s find out which are the best of the bunch.
DEAD IN THE WATER (2006)
Running a short 75 minutes long, Dead in the Water combines cabin in the woods horror with a Night of the Living Dead siege story…but then muddies the waters, so to speak, by trying to be more than Night of the Living Dead at a cabin in the woods. Grrr…argh.
The first kill encompasses all the backstory we need…a Christian summer camp closed down after a boat capsized and dozens of bodies were never recovered from the water.
Next, two sisters and their male friends come to stay at a cabin in the woods. They quickly make a gruesome discovery in the water, but they’re kind of stranded.
When one guy says, “Looks like we’re stuck in here for a night of horror and mayhem”, my immediate thought was that no one says things like that. My second thought was that it is exactly what I would say, although my delivery would have been dripping with gay melodrama.
This Randy of the movie makes meta references galore and tries to warn them of the impending zombie threat, but no one believes him. He’s also the best actor in the bunch, so for me he carried and saved the movie.
There are some classic zombie situations and the atmosphere is quite good, with much of the movie shot at night. But like I said, there’s a whole expansion of the backstory right near the end that I didn’t find necessary.
THEATRE OF THE DEAD (2013)
Theatre of the Dead is a good way to get a satisfying zombie fix if you just need some cool gore and freaky looking zombies. Using a virtually paint-by-numbers, classic zombie movie formula, this is Night of the Living Dead in a theater.
After a fun dance number during a rehearsal, the theater group calls it a night. Things go bad in the alley behind the theater right away, and the group becomes trapped inside…with some of their people already bitten.
There’s infighting as they consider pulling a Cabin Fever on their infected friends, the theater director is an embarrassing caricature whose only concern is his show being derailed, news reports on television tell them how to deal with the zombies, and there are numerous zombie encounters as the cast is whittled down to nothing.
There’s definitely entertaining zombie action and good practical effects, plus the film goes for realism by ensuring there are gay characters, but the already derivative situations become repetitive to the point of getting a little boring and causing some slowdown before the big final chase at the end.
THE HIDEOUT (2014)
I have to give props to directors that just want to make a zombie film, no matter how derivative, how little money they have, and how lacking it is in zombie makeup.
Everyone involved with The Hideout seems dedicated to telling this simple little story, which is smartly only about 75 minutes long.
A small band of thieves commits a robbery for a mob boss and is then forced to hide out in a cabin in the woods. What I really like here is that while they’re in the urban jungle, they’re so distracted doing their thing that they don’t notice hints of zombie trouble brewing around them.
Once the setting shifts to the woods, there are a few random campers attacked by zombies to keep our interest, and eventually the thieves are under siege in the cabin.
It’s a good thing the guys are cute, because there’s nothing new here at all, and one of the best scenes that builds tension for a jump scare just completely blows the jump scare. I was gobsmacked…but I’m also giddy that it gave me a reason to write gobsmacked.
There’s a little twist at the end that wasn’t totally clear to me and also wasn’t enough for me to argue that this is worth seeing, especially if you’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to zombie films.
There is nothing much original about Alive, but that’s quite alright with me when there’s loads of suspenseful fun to be had.
A cute young man wakes up in his apartment to discover the world outside is overrun with fast-moving zombies, plenty of them quite freaky looking.
These zombies are also smart—to the point of ridiculous at times. They can open doors, track noises, climb on ropes, etc. Silly or not, it makes for some exciting action.
The young man soon connects with a young woman trapped in an apartment across the way.
All I’m going to say is that these two have better vision than any human I’ve ever known.
The goal becomes to stay alive and eventually to unite to survive, and it’s the perfect way for zombie lovers to get mostly all the zombie thrills they need with few surprises.