By Mike Watt | May 12, 2004

Zombies are cool. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say that just about everyone likes zombies. Fast, slow, smart, primal, talking, mute—zombies are just cool. And to that end, just about everyone likes zombie movies. They’re fun to make, they’re usually fun to watch. And, as a result, there are just tons of them out there. A new one pops up every couple of minutes (a statement that will one day bite me in the a*s, but I digress…).

The latest (for me) is an indie offering from Canada, “Zombie Night”, directed by David J. Francis, who co-wrote the film with his late wife Amber (to whom the film is lovingly dedicated). A clear homage to the Romero “Dead” series, “Zombie Night” begins with a couple and their daughter driving back from a camping retreat. While they were gone, getting away from it all, a nuclear war broke out, resurrected the dead, and now all hell has broken loose. They immediately pull over and hole up in an old warehouse, no questions asked. There they encounter other survivors, some of whom have had to put bullets in their loved ones due to nasty cases zombification. Others are in the early throws of the (disease? Radiation poisoning?) themselves, and take their own lives. Meanwhile, the little colony grows and the dead continue to bark at the door. But there’s always a bad apple in every barrel, one guy determined to be an a*****e and ruin survival for everyone else…

“Zombie Night” is a die-hard fan movie. It was made with such earnest affection to the genre that it’s difficult to be negative towards it. Whatever shortcomings it has in the way of acting or camerawork, it never breaks the cardinal rule of “when in doubt, use more gore”. There are some really fun and nasty bits of carnage here—including a shotgun blast to the leg that will have some zombie fans cheering. The tough part for most will be overcoming the pace. Canadian movies in general, and Canadian horror movies in particular, seem to have a very laid-back attitude pervading them. The prime example comes in the opening scene. Radio newscast: “War! Zombies!” The young couple: “Wow. We’d better pull over and begin society anew.” And that gets the story moving. For the next forty-minutes, a slew of new characters are introduced, both to the audience and to each other. With the appearance of each new person, there are hand-shakes and “nice to meet you”s. And isn’t it nice that no matter how big the apocalypse, there is always time for good manners?

But there is never a moment of insincerity in “Zombie Night”, and it’s just filled with wonderful, gut-munching sequences. Zombie fans really won’t be disappointed.

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