Director: David J. Francis
Cast: Danny Ticknovich, Sandra Segovic, Dwayne Moniz
Production Company: Primal Films Inc.
Runtime: 93 minutes
One of the best things about independent horror films is that they’re usually made with great earnest and devotion to the genre. Zombie Night (2003) is David J. Francis’ personal love song to some of the best zombie films ever made.
In the movie, the chemical aftermath of a nuclear war is responsible for creating flesh-eating zombies. Survivors huddle together in an attempt to survive the carnage. However, they don’t all see eye to eye, and some of them soon become even more dangerous than the undead.
This movie is definitely a tribute to George A. Romero’s zombie classics. There are clashes among the survivors, a group of crazy rednecks, anxious news reports, hastily erected barricades, and buckets of bloody gore. It’s an original story, but one that is deeply embedded in its chosen genre.
It also reminded me of films like City of the Living Dead (1980) and Hell of the Living Dead (1980). These Italian horror movies were among the first to follow in Romero’s footsteps after the release of Dawn of the Dead (1978). You could certainly be compared to worse!
There are some new points of interests that Zombie Night contributes to the genre. The zombies are mostly active at night, giving people a chance to gather up items, or change locations during the day. There are also a lot of survivors, not just the typical small group seen in other films.
Strangely enough, this film is probably most like The Walking Dead, despite the fact that it was made before the release of the show or comic book. Both have a community of people led by a benevolent man, and darker characters who would lead differently.
Francis uses practical effects for all of his film’s moments of blood and gore. The best effect of the entire movie takes place when Derek (Dwayne Moniz) shoots a zombie at close range, causing its leg to explode! The effects are raw, but more realistic than what we now see in the digital age.
The DVD from Primal Films is loaded with extras. My favourite among them is a documentary about the making of the movie. Francis is brutally honest, sharing the frustrating realities of making a low-budget movie. It should be required viewing for all independent filmmakers!
The zombies in the movie are intentionally slow and very creepy-looking. This brought me all the way back to Night of the Living Dead (1968). Sometimes, the old ways are the best. Zombie Night wakes the dead in a way that respects the past, while still bringing us something new.
– John Migliore
For more information on the film, check out the links below…