Original Release Date: February 18, 2008
Run Time: 87 minutes
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think I was born in the wrong decade.
I love the gritty, rough-and-tumble feel of a good 1970s film. I believe that films made in this magical decade were forced to rely more on the power of their story and their actors, rather than be allowed to skate by viewers via the ability of some decent-looking special effects taking the center stage. I was born in the ‘70s, but obviously wasn’t watching the horror films of the decade as they were released; I cut my teeth on the slasher films and fright flicks of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and as fun as those were, to me there is just something special about the movies that came the decade before.
It should come as no surprise, then, to find out that I also have a special place in my heart for films that emulate the style and feel of the era gone by. Probably the most recognizable example of this would be Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse double feature, Death Proof and Planet Terror. Released in 2007, both of these movies were shot in the retro-‘70s style, complete with “scratchy” film, time-appropriate use of wardrobe and dialogue, and even the occasional “missing reel.” Planet Terror was a zombie film, and was previously reviewed on this site here (included in Vol. 1 of The G.O.R.E. Score book series), but we’re not here to talk about that film; we’re here to talk about another movie featuring the walking dead that seems to pay homage to this era as well: 2008’s Demon Resurrection.
The film opens with a bit of effective back-story exhibition, and quickly jumps right into the thick of things. Living near a prison burial ground with a fair amount of bloody local lore, Grace has recently become a bit of a recluse, so her friends visit her and stage an “intervention” to try and help. They assume that Grace is under the influence of drugs given to her by John, her new occultist husband; the group quickly realizes that not only are things not what they seem – John is actually working to protect Grace from a much bigger evil, a local cult leader named Toth – they picked the wrong night to visit, as Toth has set in motion his plans to resurrect an ancient demon, with Grace’s unwilling assistance. Toth has at his disposal the batch of undead murdered prisoners mentioned at the beginning of the tale, and as you may have guessed, mayhem quickly ensues as the group of unwitting innocents fight to survive their literal night from Hell.
Let’s disco-duck our way into the Score:
G: General Entertainment – The plot of the film, while a tad convoluted at times, is a fun one, and it’s clear the cast and crew were having a good time while creating this movie. The group of undead prisoners – they are zombies, in the most basic sense – have a really unique look to them, a look that adds to the retro-style feel of the film. The story is a bit slow to get on its feet, with over 40 minutes of what I’d call “exposition” until the horrific meat of the story finally begins; once the bloody action starts, it grabs you with its undead hands and never lets go. 7/10
O: Original Content – The specifics of the tale are what make Demon Resurrection stand out from the standard zombie/horror fare. The interesting blend of zombies, occult horror, and good old-fashioned killing of people who never really had a chance to begin with help give the film a one-of-a-kind feel and save it from falling into the usual tricks and traps you’d find in the average horror film. Credit writer/director William Hopkins and producers Edward Wheeler and Frank Cilla for effectively bringing this tale to life. 7/10
R: Realism – The acting and filming locations are serviceable enough, but it’s some of the finer points of the story that bring our score down here. Maybe it’s an extension of paying homage to the sometimes-kitschy movies of the 1970s, but pretty much all of the characters in the movie – good guys, bad guys, even the zombies – make flat-out dumb decisions throughout. The folks trying to survive, as pseudo-survivors often do, make poor choices, like believing a stick can help them fight off the undead, or even worse, moving to stand in front of a window when an attack from the zombies just outside is all-too-eminent. As the main villain, I’m confused as to why Toth decided to use Grace as a key piece of his grand demonic scheme; she was never overly willing to go along with his ideas, and she seemed very able to thwart the plan when she wanted to. There may have been something special about her, but if there was I didn’t catch it being explained in the film. And hey, zombies, there might be a couple of survivors hiding in the barn, but don’t look too closely in the windows of the barn doors, you might see them hiding in plain sight! 5/10
E: Effects and Editing – Gorehounds should be very pleased with this movie, as practical effects are plentiful and pretty darn well done for an independent film. My qualms here are with the pacing of the film, as noted above, and with the zombies themselves. While I absolutely loved their unique look – think of a Fulci-esque rotting zombie with hollowed-out eye sockets, rotting teeth, and a decrepit skull-face perched atop some nondescript and tattered clothing – the fact that their faces were made as static masks did detract something from their performance. When they attacked the living and went to eat them, the undead actors clearly couldn’t bring this part of the scene to life very effectively, since they couldn’t articulate their mouths, so they just ended up staying hunched over their victims as they tossed innards around them. Also, I really enjoyed the undead’s ethereal, smoking-green glow, but in some scenes I felt that the effect actually detracted from being able to see what the zombies were truly up to. 6/10
TOTAL SCORE: 6.25/10
When it’s all said and done, Demon Resurrection is an above-average film that combines a unique story with a nostalgic feel of a film-making era long gone by. A good amount of extras and the promise of the “unrated and uncut” version of the film makes this one to hunt down on DVD, if you consider yourself a fan of the “classic” kind of horror film.
And now, my friends, you know the Score!
Sounds interesting…I do love the groovy look and feel of Grindhouse flicks.