Night of the Dead: Leben Tod Movie Review
Written by Milos Jovanovic
A Cerebral Experiment production
Written and directed by Eric Forsberg
2006, 90 minutes, Not rated
Louis Graham as Dr. Gabriel Schreklich
Joey Jalalian as Anais Sturben
Gabriel Womack as Peter Sturben
Deirdre V. Lyons as Schatzi
Lola Forsberg as Christi
David Reynolds as Gunther
Anais, a young pregnant girl, is staying at the hospital of Dr. Gabriel Schreklich, her husband's uncle. This sounds about normal at first, but Dr. Schreklich's activities are anything but — his hospital is a front for a series of experiments which deal with resurrecting the dead. Due to undisclosed reasons, Anais is forbidden from leaving the facility, and is not quite a happy camper. To make matters even more interesting, she is not the only permanent resident of Schreklich's clinic — the good doctor also keeps his undead wife and daughter locked in an isolated room, both being "dead" for over a year. Their presence is made possible by doctor's reviving serum, which so far only has one visible drawback : it makes people hanker for some raw (preferrably human) meat.
The catalyst for inevitable disaster arrives in shape of a Latin family, who stumbles upon the clinic by pure accident. The daughter, severely bleeding, is in need of urgent transfusion, which arrives too late. Deciding to go all out, Dr. Schreklich injects her with his serum, and things predictably turn awry. Before you know it, the living dead are swamping the hospital corridors, and they just might be the ticket Anais was waiting for...
A few weeks ago, I reviewed another indie zombie film, Deadscapes: Broken Road. Back then, I praised the director for going for the character-driven feature, instead of just relying on gore. Fast forward to mid-December, and I'm reviewing Eric Forsberg's Night of the Dead: Leben Tod, a z-indie which not only has plenty of gore, but has likable characters to boot. And also happens to be very entertaining. Everything is possible, after all.
Then again, Leben Tod is not exactly the type of zombie film to tread in Romero's footsteps, like Deadscapes did. With its atypical, non-canonical zombies (they...talk! And retain their memory more than often), and quirky characters which induce some humour every now and then, Forsberg's creation is more of a homage to Peter Jackson than George Romero. Which means, it's less of a "the undead take the world" downer, more of a "pass the bucket" cult classic in making.
How much will you enjoy Leben Tod depends largely on your queasiness factor. Forsberg, who previously delivered another ultra-gory feature (Alien Abduction), pushes the envelope from the word go with an opening scene which includes a huge frog being dissected. That is just the introduction for things to come, and those "things" come by the bucketful in this film. Blood, organs and chunks of meat grace the screen for the duration of the whole feature, and that might be too much for some viewers. Still, this movie obviously aims for one particular fan group, and they will be quite satisfied by the results. It helps that the standard of makeup and special effects is rather high, so everything looks a few classes better than your average indie horror film. The hospital sets are also rather effective. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention...there's also some nudity on display.
Perhaps the biggest thing working in this film favour is the overall competence factor oozing from the crew and actors. Forsberg is no rookie to this line of work, and he handles the directing chores with some flair and style, while the actors are unusually good, especially if you're used to the standard sub-par indie horror acting. Louis Graham leads the cast as the demonic, yet very timid dr. Schreklich, and Gabriel Womack and Joey Jalalian lend him credible support as Peter and Anais. Another standout is David Reynolds (previously of House of 1000 Corpses) as the doctor's flunky Gunther — some of the best scenes feature him, and he serves as light comic relief most of the time.
Night of the Dead: Leben Tod is not quite Bad Taste or Braindead, but it's a step in that direction, and a good one. It's a fun (if a bit bloody) way to fill 90ish minutes of your day, and you should give it a go if such films interest you.
This is a screener disc, so no A/V grades.