Review: Rise of the Zombies / Cert: 15 / Director: Nick Lyon / Screenplay: Keith Allen, Delondra Williams / Starring: Danny Trejo, Mariel Hemingway, Chad Lindberg, LeVar Burton, Ethan Suplee, Heather Hemmens / Release Date: Out Now
The very least that can be said about this Syfy Channel ‘original’ movie is that it absolutely does what it says on the tin. There are indeed zombies which do indeed rise. They also swim, climb up the Golden Gate Bridge, run at a fair old lick but, oddly, seem to have trouble climbing over not especially high wire fences. Oh well, that’s the zombie apocalypse for you; you never know what’s coming next…
Rise of the Zombies (for Syfy courtesy of the notorious Asylum Studios) is a noticeable step up in quality for a cheap and cheerful TV movie; that’s not to say it’s really much good but it’s also not as appallingly presented and mechanically acted as many of its ilk and it wouldn’t be too far from the truth to suggest that the film even has a sense of ambition to match its sometimes impressive sense of scale. Riffing off Season 3 of The Walking Dead, Rise sees zombie outbreak survivors in San Francisco taking refuge on Alcatraz. But when the zombies start wading across from the mainland, some of the survivors decide to head back to the city to try and find a slightly barmy scientist who has been broadcasting video messages suggesting he might have found a cure for the airborne virus which is turning people undead and bitey.
Some real effort has gone into Rise of the Zombies, which boasts a cast with at least three names audiences will have heard of (all of whom are obviously more down on their luck than they might care to admit), a script with a bit more vim to it than we normally expect and a handful of exciting, vivid and bloody zombie skirmishes. The movie even crosses the ‘ewwww’ line in a sequence where a pregnant woman recently bitten by a zombie is opened up in an attempt to save her baby. This doesn’t go well.
Obviously shot on a budget a shoestring might envy, Rise of the Zombies manages to make a decent fist of depicting a near-deserted, zombie-ridden city (although a couple of stock aerial shots of the city and the Bridge could have been better selected – several show the city teaming with life and the bridge choked with traffic) and for all its flaws – the usual one-dimensional characters who are ripped to bits the moment we meet them, copious amounts of deathless dialogue – it’s a rollicking old gorefest with no pretensions towards being anything other than just another zombie movie.