Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reel Zombies (DVD Review) - Synapse Films

Directed By: David J. Francis, Mike Masters
Written By: Mike Masters
Starring: Mike Masters, David J. Francis, Stephen Papadimitriou
Color/89 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE

The Film
In REEL ZOMBIES independent filmmakers Mike Masters and David J. Francis, who play themselves, are dead set on making the third entry in their "Zombie Night" series. The problem? Well besides finding locations, cast and crew and money the actual zombie apocalypse has broken out since they made their last film. With the outbreak of the undead seemingly under control the team thinks the world is finally ready to start watching zombie movies again and that it is safe enough to film a zombie movie like never before... with actual zombies!

The team goes through the normal trials and tribulations of making a low budget film... casting the film, finding locations, acquiring a crew, and then the not so normal deeds such as wrangling zombies. They find that making this movie isn't going to be any easier than before with a cast that doesn't know their lines, a crew that can't get their shit together aside from the French DP who is a total asshole, and the zombies attacking every chance they get. The task goes from making Zombie Night 3 something incredible to simply finishing the film before everyone dies.

REEL ZOMBIES was made in 2008 and is just being released. That kind of thing can tell you one of two things. Either the movie sucks and nobody wants it or someone is missing out on a quality flick. Well, this one doesn't suck so bad that it should be shelved forever. I thought the premise of this one was pretty cool. Filming a zombie movie in the middle of the actual zombie apocalypse is simplistically brilliant. I just don't think REEL ZOMBIES fully takes advantage of the idea. We get a good amount of zombies on screen, but rarely do they seem like much of a threat. The bigger threat seems to be more of the melodrama on set. REEL ZOMBIES is heavy in humor, and in my opinion a good bit of it falls flat. Now there are some amazing characters such as the French DP who is absolutely hilarious in his pretentiousness and know-it-all attitude and Basil as the co-star of the film who has absolutely no idea what is going on with the film. The horror of the film takes a bit to get going and never really reaches any levels of dread or terror. The movie remains comical throughout and that is fine, it just doesn't totally work. The best part of REEL ZOMBIES is that it actually is a sequel. Yes, the Zombie Night movies are real and this is an inventive idea for continuing the series. The team behind it gets major points for that. 

The Audio & Video
Synapse Films releases REEL ZOMBIES on DVD for the first time ever with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks good. The mockumentary style of this film has modern digital photography that obviously will look nice on disc. It is a squeaky clean and shiny looking picture and the audio is free of any issues as well. A 2.0 stereo track handles the sound duties beautifully.

The Extras
The extra features on this disc include an audio commentary track with directors Mike Masters and David J. Francis and producer Stephen Papadimitriou. Also included are over 40 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes presented as one single program and not individually. A trailer rounds out the disc. 

The Bottom Line
The idea and heart behind REEL ZOMBIES is undeniably great. Even if the execution leaves a bit to be desired in my opinion it doesn't surprise me at all that this movie is well received and well liked. A sometimes funny, sometimes not, original idea featuring zombies is worth a rental at least to see for yourself.

REEL ZOMBIES is available HERE


Kev D. said...

Cool idea... still insane that there are 40 minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes. They look like they had fun making it, which is always nice to see...

Celluloid Terror (Seth Poulin) said...

They definitely had fun making it which is awesome and you can tell in the finished product.

primalfilms said...

We did have an absolute blast! We only put the 40 minutes of extra features in as more would have been just too much. I think we shot something like 88 hours of footage. Editing took forever. Hope you all get a good chuckle out of it!