Look at that, it’s time for another round of torture the zombie. I know. Don’t look the gift horse in the mouth. I could be lying on the cold ground with a machete in my skull, yada, yada, yada . . . . But could the ZSC gift horse stop dredging up SyFy films for me to review? Obviously they didn’t learn their lesson after I reviewed 2012: Zombie Apocalypse. As a matter of fact, the plots for the two films were so similar, I stopped to make sure I hadn’t watched the first one again by mistake. So, what is Rise of the Zombies about?
Starring: Mariel Hemingway, Chad Lindberg, LeVar Burton, Heather Hemmens, and Danny Trejo.
Rated: TV-14 (Violence, gore)
In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, a ragtag group of people finds save haven in Alcatraz, until the undead manage to swim to the island and put them all in danger. Driven from the prison, the survivors of the attack hunt down a scientist who is working on a vaccine for the zombie virus. He may be their only hope to survive in a zombie-filled San Francisco.
I had to write that synopsis myself. SyFy assumed the fans didn’t need to know what the film was about beyond “zombie” being in the title. Because in their world, there is only one zombie film. They just rotate out locations and actors. Gotta say, the casting for Rise of the Zombies caught me by surprise. In a good way. If the cast hadn’t been so wonderful, the awful cheesy dialog would’ve been completely unbearable. How many times did they honestly need to shout, “There’s another zombie!” Yes, we see the zombies. They aren’t exactly ninjas. And there were a lot of them. Over an hour of the film was pure zombie attack scenes with little or no dialog. Which may be why, by the end of the film, I had no clue who the characters were. They had no history. No back story. We catch up with them at the prison and as far as viewers are concerned, every single character had been born there from two rocks rubbing together vigorously.
The blood and gore for the zombies themselves was pretty good, aside from a few understated background zombies who got too close to the camera and looked like Cousin Joey who happened to be in town that day and sneaked onto the movie set. Again, SyFy abused the hell out of computer-generated blood splatter. Why does anyone go that route for easy-to-rig FX gags? CG blood looks cheap and only really works as filler. Not the entire effect. Then it looks like someone handed a kid frames of the film on MS Paint and let them use the spray paint brush on it willy-nilly. All of the FX makeup budget went on to the zombies. The gags rigged for humans were seriously lacking, downright laughable at points. Apparently they were an afterthought.
SyFy tried to make Rise of the Zombies edgy. They even ripped off some of the philosophical issues brought up on The Walking Dead —Suicide, children born in the apocalypse, and what God thought about them killing zombies. The problem is, the script sucks. So while the writers thought they were being deep, the actors had nothing to deliver other than a hazy conviction that they were right. We get no emotional attachment to the characters. When they die, oh well. What’s the point of watching a post-apocalyptic film when you’re watching the clock so you can move on to something else? The film is not engaging for fans.
I’m going to give Rise of the Zombies two ruptured eyeballs out of five. Like all SyFy original movies, this is best viewed while surrounded by friends and a keg of beer. Maybe two kegs.