Zombie Horde DVD Review
Directed by Ryan Thompson
Written by Ryan Thompson, Matthew O'Day, Ryan Lieske, John Tillotson
2011, Region 2 (PAL), 102 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 3rd Feb 2013
Johnny Gel as Knox
Fred Williamson as Moses
Joseph Scott Anthony as Robert
Tommy Beardmore as Lucas
Jerry Lynch as Rome
Alicia Clark as Sarah
Opening with a text introduction that looks as though it were left over from a 1980s VHS or SNES videogame, Zombie Horde informs us that we’re in a post-apocalyptic future of the undead where mankind is split up into zombies, warring gangs and Mad Max style hardmen. One of those Mad Max style hardmen happens to be Fred Williamson, of From Dusk Till Dawn fame, so at least there is that.
When tough guy John Knox, on the brink of death, happens across Moses (Williamson) and his ragtag band of survivors, it looks as though his luck is changing for the better. Ingratiating himself with Moses’s camp, Knox takes his place in his cosy new family. Disaster strikes in the form of a marauding gang of raiders, trashing the camp and either murdering or kidnapping everyone there. It’s up to Knox to band together with his fellow surviving survivors to save his newfound family before it’s too late.
Williamson is the sole highlight in an ultra-low-budget zombie epic which purports to give an experience like The Horde but, in reality, is anything but. There is a minor horde going on, but most of the action concerns the ugly gangs and rubbish hardmen fighting it out amongst one another. Chief offenders are a Snake Plissken rip-off with none of Kurt Russell’s charisma, a bored Fred Williamson and a villain who looks and sounds like a cheap TV Ming the Merciless imitator crossed with a butch Eli Roth or Eric Roberts.
“If I want your opinion I’ll rape it out of you,” snarls bad guy Rome, in what unfortunately emerges as one of the film’s more memorable lines. Jerry Lynch does the best with the material he’s given, but his brand of villainy seems out of place, his enemies useless and annoying. Kudos for going down the whole Jabba the Hutt-esque, bikini clad captive on a chain route, though. As Moses, Williamson isn’t around for nearly long enough (it’s the sort of role you’d usually see Danny Trejo or Michael Madsen in) leaving poor Johnny Gel to handle the bulk of the heroism.
Bless them, Gel and the filmmakers do try, cramming in as much action as the limited budget can muster, ranging from one-on-one fistfights through to bikini-clad catfights and brawls with a zombie horde in a big field. Alas, it can pull none this off, being let down by bad CGI, amateurish direction and even worse acting. It’s all done with a sly nudge and a wink, suggesting that its faults are at least partly intentional, but not even that can save it. Goodwill will only carry you so far, and Zombie Horde remains terrible in spite of its good intentions. Hating on low-budget horror is never a pleasant thing to do – even less so when the guys behind it seem so genuine – but the market is so saturated with cheap zombie epics at the moment that Zombie Horde never really stood a chance.
Video and Audio:
It looks cheap, but not unbearably so. The music aims for an early John Carpenter sort of vibe, which it almost pulls off, but even that gets annoying after a while.
It comes with a making of feature entitled The Road to Redemption, which makes no sense given that the film is not called Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption, which it once was. Director Ryan Thompson, screenwriter Matthew O’Day and actor Johnny Gel appear for interviews, all coming across as thoroughly nice and personable folks. There’s a couple of great Fred Williamson based anecdotes in which Thompson shares the actor’s ‘three rules’. Don’t tell anyone, but all three of them are broken in From Dusk Till Dawn. I’m left feeling terrible for not enjoying the film. That is, until I remember that it’s not very good.