Rise of the Zombies

Dir: Nick Lyon
Star: Mariel Hemingway, Chad Lindberg, LeVar Burton, Heather Hemmens

As shown on the right, the original title for this was Dead Walking - which would explain why certain elements of this seemed more than familiar, such as the surviors from a zombie epidemic who are holed up in a prison, or the impromptu Caesarian given to a pregnant woman after she's bitten by a zombie. The main problem is less shameless aping of a wildly-popular TV series, than ideas that aren't interesting or are badly-executed to begin with. Never mind "Rise", we actually join the zombie apocalypse already well in progress, with a group trying to escape through the streets of San Francisco. Meanwhile Doctors Snyder (Hemingway) and Halpern (Burton) are just off the coast on Alcatraz, trying to find a cure with their team. The bulk make a break for the coastguard station up the coast as Petaluma, leaving Halpern to carry on research, using a couple of captive zombies including his wife (though his scientific method has more in common with Doctor Mengele than anyone, e.g. "oxygen deprivation" ends up resulting in the nightmare which is a flaming zombie!).

The problems start right from the get-go, with people being killed off before we have any reason to care, or even know who they are, and some particularly ropey digital effects with a car rolling out of control down Lombard St [that's the super steep, zig-zaggy one, if you don't recognize the name]. The movie also splits the running time between the various parties, which simply dilutes any level of interest. On the plus side, some of the effects are actually decent - the semi-deserted SF streets are well-realized in general, and there's certainly no shortage of gore, even if most of it has little or no emotional punch. The one moment you will remember is after the Caesarian when... No, I really can't say. It's a moment of completely unhinged lunacy that defies any description: that, and a zombie Danny Trejo, almost makes sitting through this bearable. Not quite, however, and it soon returns to the pedestrian level of bad dialogue, delivered in unconvincing fashion by characters about whom you just don't give a damn. Give me The Walking Dead any day, or even The Asylum's previous, much superior zombie/prison flick, Dead Men Walking.

[November 2012]

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