Stag Night of the Dead DVD Review
Written and Directed by Neil Jones
2010, Region 2 (PAL), 81 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 9th January 2012
Sebastian Street as Dean
Sophie Lovell Anderson as Candy
Joe Rainbow as Ronny
Mike Busson as Number 48
Rez Kempton as Sanjay
Bruce Lawrence as Marky
James G. Fain as TC
In a world where zombies are a banal reality, a group of boorish lads take off for a stag weekend playing 'zomball' at a countryside army base. It's like paintball apparently, except you shoot at zombies with massive electric stun guns (like electric cars, they take forever to recharge). Straight-laced stag Dean, his friends and a PVC clad stripper soon get into the spirit, making Dean's last day as a single man one to remember. But after breaking the organisation's “don't humiliate the zombies” rule, the lads soon find themselves out of their depth and caught up in the midst of a sinister global conspiracy. And those guys from The Hangover thought that they had it bad.
Not even past the opening credits, a distinct Shaun of the Dead vibe is felt. Yet again there's that familiar logo - bright red capitals and a little cartoon (in this case, a voluptuous female figure) standing in for one of the letters. As a rule, any zombie movie with that sort of logo is one to avoid. Stag Night of the Dead is more enjoyable than most Shaun of the Dead rip-offs, but not by much.
It may try to invite comparison to Wright, Frost & Pegg's most successful movie, but Stag Night of the Dead is more akin to 2009's Lesbian Vampire Killers. And it actually manages to be even less funny than James Corden's Sapphic clunker. Failing to realise that it wasn't the slacker, laddish attitude that made Shaun of the Dead funny, it steams ahead in its celebration of British lads' magazine culture. The only mature character arc in the movie is Dean's, and it's a very predictable one.
Almost every one of the jokes is of a very laddish flavour – all strippers, sex jokes and swearing. The characters are obnoxious blokes who you'd expect to find downing pitchers of cheap lager and vomiting on pavements on a Saturday night. It's the sort of movie that assumes dwarves are inherently hilarious and that men repeatedly shouting “wanker” at one another is a witty bit of scriptwriting. I'll admit, an exclamation of “DJ hymen buster!” did make me laugh, but I felt very guilty afterwards. It'll play well to the student crowd, particularly with a beer and a curry.
With a higher budget, it's the sort of British comedy horror that would have starred Danny Dyer. It's very reminiscent of Dyer's own Doghouse and Severance – both of which are funnier than this. But it does have a few moments of value. I particularly enjoyed the use of the song 'Dem Bones' (even if it is quickly overplayed) and there's some remarkably good zombie killing action towards the end. A subplot in which one of Dean's friends falls in love with a zombie is amusing. When the tone shifts from comedy to action horror is when Stag Night of the Dead is at its best. The special effects are fairly good and there are a few fun gore gags and grisly creature designs.
Like a lot of horror comedies, the horror isn't at all scary. But when the jokes are bad too, it makes for a disappointing misfire. Like most stag nights, this one is best enjoyed whilst thoroughly drunk and in the company of good mates.
Video and Audio:
It looks very low-budget, overly gritty and filtered. It sounds fine, although the soundtrack gets obtrusive at times.
There's a making of documentary which left me feeling guilty for not enjoying the film more; the guys behind it seem well-intentioned and ambitious. Wannabe filmmakers and zombie walkers will enjoy a 'how to make a zombie' featurette. There are also a few deleted scenes, outtakes and a stills gallery.