Reel Zombies DVD Review
Written and directed by Michael Masters and David J. Francis
2008, Region 1, 89 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on February 11th, 2014
Mike Masters as himself
David J. Francis as himself
Stephen Papadimitriou as himself
Sam Hall as himself
Paul Fler as himself
Mukesh Asopa as himself
Andrew Fruman as himself
Dan Rooney as himself
Jean-Marc Fontaine as Jean-Marc Mireau
Stephanie Hawkins as Rebecca Shelley
Sharon DeWitt as herself
Twice upon a time in Canada, a group of independent filmmakers banded together to make crappy zombie movies and their low-budget efforts resulted in Zombie Night (2003) and Zombie Night 2: Awakening (2006). A few years have passed and the urge to complete the trilogy that nobody asked for is too great to resist. While most productions are stymied by physical limitations like fundraising or acquiring locations, our guys have the unique challenge of attempting to film in the wake of the zombie apocalypse with the intent of using real zombies in the movie. Documentarian Paul Fler records the antics as Mike Masters and David J. Francis embark on a cinematic journey into Hell.
It is unfair to go into too much detail as to what happens during the course of Reel Zombies, as half the fun of watching this picture is not knowing where it is going. Luckily, the talent involved have a plan, and while it may not always include the best pacing, it never strays too far from the mark, either. The material works on several levels in that fans of straightforward zombie flicks will have plenty of gory fun to feast on and anyone who has attempted to make their own backyard movie will relate to the many challenges the crew face. Performances are pretty solid across the board and it never feels like anyone is really playing to the camera. One really nice touch, on the technical side of things, is that the camera operator improves his skills as the story progresses, in terms of framing and adjusting his settings for interior/ exterior shooting.
Masters and Francis have great on-screen chemistry and their enthusiasm really keeps things going. They are instantly likeable and their willingness to laugh at themselves and their earlier films encourages viewers to root for these guys a little harder. The supporting cast of characters (the majority playing onscreen alter egos to their real life counterparts) are equally entertaining as they tackle a new round of zombie obstacles every day. It is fun to watch the morale of the crew dip as the director continues to take risky chances for the sake of the film and things frequently get out of control.
Reel Zombies follows the tradition of various mockumentaries and plays like a genre version of This is Spinal Tap or Best in Show. While this film is not quite as entertaining as others, it certainly fits within this subgenre nicely and is worth checking out before heading to your next film set!
Video and Audio:
Presented here in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the picture is sharp with decent colors and contrast. There are occasional moments of deliberate interference and digital glitches and they only add to the experience.
Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo is the audio option here and it is pretty decent. Dialogue is clear more often than not, but even then it is more a calculated confusion of overlapping voices and sound effects. There are no subtitles offered for the hearing impaired, but the French-speaking DP is humorously translated with nice easy-to-read white titles over a black background.
Starting things off is an audio commentary with co-directors Mike Masters and David Francis who are joined by producer Stephen Papadimitriou. The trio is clearly pleased with the finished product and enjoying their time together with the laid-back discussion. This is largely an anecdote-filled track with good humor and a lot of fond memories of the experience.
Up next are 42 minutes of deleted and extended scenes that add little to the pacing of the film and were wisely removed from the finished product.
Rounding things out is the original trailer (2:30) that establishes the fun-times vibe of the film.