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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DVD Review: DEAD MOON RISING (2007)

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------Review by contributing writer Scott Baker------

Directed by Mark E. Poole
Distributed by Anthem Pictures
Released: 2007

I think that most of the world knows by now that I’m a huge zombie fan. And if you didn’t know that, well, you do now…so make a note. I don’t know what it is, but those shambling, oozing, moaning, brain-dead bags of flesh and dust just really do something for me. So, as fate (and Hayes) would have it, DEAD MOON RISING dropped in my lap for review.

If you’re not familiar with the film, the plot is this, courtesy of writer/director Mark E. Poole on imdb.com:

A mysterious disease overtakes the world, and the infected develop a hankering for human flesh. Jim and his fellow Cheapskate Car Rental clerks are oblivious to the changes going on right outside their door, until it literally gets right in their faces. Jim struggles with disgruntled customers, hordes of cannibals, the barely legal April, his certifiable ex-girlfriend Vix (the sexy "Terminatrix"), reconciling issues with his brother, an aversion to guns, and the "pants thing." Can Jim pull it together and rally Louisville's remaining bike gangs and defeat the infected hordes? Maybe with the help of 1000 rounds a minute mini-gun...

First of all, I have to apologize to the distribution company Anthem Pictures. Hayes gave me this film to review a long time ago…but I somehow misplaced it and just now found it again. So this review is therefore past due. Sorry. I suck, I know…but oh well.

So…how did DEAD MOON RISING rate for me, since I am a zombie aficionado after all?

Well…the answer is a bit complex. When I first started watching it, I hated it. The dialogue is campy, the special effects are beyond terrible, the acting bites, and the zombies aren’t even really zombies. Sounds like a bomb, right?

BUT…after the movie ended, I looked at the film from a different point of view. Instead of scrutinizing it from a high-budget perspective (which is what the cover led me to believe it was), I started looking at it from an indie-filmmaker’s point of view (ok…Hayes and I only have one film under our belts, but that still makes us filmmakers!). Weird for me to change my mind, I know, but the whole time I was watching it, I kept thinking to myself, “Man…they put so much work and heart into this that I can’t really hate it…can I”?

Which is the very reason I changed the way I was looking at it. You can usually tell when a film project is actually a labor of love and not an attempt to earn money. There’s a soul, a spirit, a real true ‘essence’ to the movie. When the filmmakers put their hearts and souls into it, the result is nothing short of magic, regardless of the budget.

From an analytical perspective, the acting in the film is pretty bad…but I would bet most of the actors were not paid…just volunteers looking to add something to their resume. Also, the film style and cinematography are not pro-grade quality…but this is their first film, so they were probably experimenting and learning. The special effects are cheesy and the zombies are nothing more than people with yellow paint on their faces…but…ok, so maybe they could have put more effort into the effects…but what can we expect from shoestring budget pictures? Filmmakers do have to make cuts somewhere, after all.

My only TRUE complaints about DEAD MOON RISING are minor. It is labeled as a comedy, but it’s not really that funny. Also, the overall story is also not original for the most part, but the side-plot that deals with the main character’s childhood traumas is pretty good and entertaining. And the extended-length, gratuitous lesbian-kissing scene in the middle of the movie has no point and only detracts from the little immersion I was able to obtain.

This film will not win any major awards (honestly, I’m surprised it DID win any awards at all), but it is a whole-hearted attempt at something bigger and better. I would really like to see what the production crew could do with a bigger budget (and better actors). The result might not be awesome, but I do think it would be entertaining. Hopefully, it would be more so than this film.


CLICK HERE to watch the trailer
CLICK HERE to purchase the DVD

CLICK HERE
to visit the official website of Anthem Pictures

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