Friday, August 7

War of the Living Dead (2006)

A.K.A. Zombie Wars
Directed by David A. Prior
80 Minutes / Videoville Showtime (VVS) (Canada) / 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Fifty years after the zombie pandemic, a band of makeshift soldiers make due in woodland-based camps while saving humans from undead slavers. David and Brian (Adam Stuart / Jim Hazelton), brothers battling the undead, are split up when David is captured along with a mute girl saved from the dead. Taken to a "zombie farm", the two find a place where humans are enslaved as a food source and encouraged to mate for the creation of more living prisoners.

David befriends a smarmy fellow inmate, Sliver (Jonathan Badeen), the only other among the living who can communicate verbally. They secretly hatch a plan involving planting a map of the complex onto a "pushead" with the hopes of David's team finding it upon killing the creature. Though can David truly trust Sliver upon seeing him quietly talking with a shady character in the night?

David A. Prior, the man behind such VHS classics as Sledgehammer and Killer Workout, writes and directs his first zombie endeavor. The premise of zombie forces enslaving humanity for food is certainly interesting and could be seen as a logical path for Romero if a real fifth Dead installment ever came to pass. Prior and crew make the best out of an obviously meager budget and that ends up being the most impressive aspect of this feature for better or for worse. From the few stills online of Zombie Wars, I was expecting a shoddy shot-on-video production, but Prior has a good, consistent eye for frame composition.

The ideas here are big and can't quite eclipse the budgetary constraints. Monotonous narration pushes earlier portions along and the scope of the situation is blurry since the characters never speak to vastness of the world they inhabit. Still, credit must go to Prior for having several quiet exposition pieces. The details behind the "smarter" zombies are vague, as they look just like every other common shambler just groaning and pointing commands. They look good with bloody facial rot, even with humanly pink-colored hands and their tendency to reappear later after receiving headshots. The presence of poor CG used in a few terrible decaps doesn't help. Lastly, the wrap-up bites from Night of the Living Dead (you can probably guess what) and The Road Warrior (again, think the obvious).

The film isn't a total wash, but given these issues there is a noticeable struggle to fill 80 minutes. Prior deserves credit for bringing a different angle with such piecemeal funds, but it's a shame a wider greenback palette wasn't provided. Definitely worse DTV zombo flicks out there, judge this against the stupefyingly awful Zombie Farm, and you'll see what I mean.

DVD Picture: 7/10
DVD Sound: 7/10

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