Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

Flight of the Living Dead | Invasion

By Steve Anderson
March 1st, 2008

Flight of the Living DeadFlight of the Living Dead
**
DVD
Directed by Scott Thomas
Written by Sidney Iwanter,Mark Onspaugh
Starring David Chisum, Kevin J. O'Connor, Kristen Kerr, Raymond Berry
Produced by David Shoshan, Scott Thomas
94 mins
NR
2007

Okay..."Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane" sounds like a horrible, horrible idea. Like someone at New Line decided, several months too late, to cash in on the surprising success of "Snakes on a Plane". Meanwhile, "Flight of the Living Dead" seems to be mostly about a flight about to be overrun by zombies due to a highly unauthorized, illegal, immoral, etc. project currently in the cargo hold. Which is about what you'd expect out of something like this--I kept wondering if I was going to hear "trioxin" or "venus probe" referenced first. Oh, and as it turns out...it's going to be malaria that's the impetus this time around. I've heard everything from mad cow disease to flesh-eating bacteria responsible for making zombies, and eventually they're going to get down to like the mutant common cold or something. Within the next twenty years, at this rate, someone's going to stub their toe and kick off Zombie Apocalypse.

Augh! I've got a hangnail and the damndest...craving for...braaaaaains! Despite the sheer unoriginality of the work, there's actually quite a lot to be said for "Flight of the Living Dead". One, despite the fact that there isn't any real zombie action (except for the first one, briefly seen) for the first half-hour, they still manage to keep things up and moving via the simple expedient of having the plane go through a hellacious thunderstorm. Also, they threw in several smaller subplots--some infidelity among couples, a prisoner in transport--to spice things up a little amidst all the zombie action. That, and a truly hyperkinetic last half of the film is really going to ratchet things up nicely. People are getting lunched up left, right and center on this sucker and it's actually pretty amazing. The down side on this movie is fairly extensive--logic suffers horribly as the characters will fire off a panoply of nine-millimeter rounds and never manage to puncture the hull or cause a loss of cabin pressure. Zombies are easily identifiable by the contact lenses they've all been given to wear, and I don't really think a plane's floor should be so thin it can be punched through by the recently deceased.

Meanwhile, the zombies themselves are wrong for all sorts of reasons. They talk, they run, they jump, they create cogent ambushes--all things actual zombies really should not do. There is only one real zombie, all right? That is the zombie created by George Romero himself, and don't let anyone tell you different.

Romero is the real zombie maker. Everyone else is just a sad little imitation.

The ending is actually even more frenzied than the first half, and will even have a little bit of humor in it.

The special features include DVD-ROM features, several audio commentary tracks, an outtake reel, and trailers for "Full of It", "The Butterfly Effect 2", "Believers", and for some reason, the game "Flatout: Ultimate Carnage".

All in all, "Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane" is a fair little excursion into the world of zombie apocalypses. While it's certainly not the best, it's far from the worst, and that's saying something. What else is worth saying is that it will prove, especially for zombie fans, to be worth a rental.

Invasion
***
DVD
Directed by Albert Pyun
Written by Cynthia Curman
Starring Virginia Dare, Morgan Weisser, Norbert Weisser, Don Opper
Produced by Robert Ladesich, Norbert Weisser
65 mins
R
2007

You've got to be concerned about anything that purports to be "based on true / reported events". "Invasion" will prove to be one more example. Based on something called "The Lawton Outbreak", a report by someting called the N.S.A.A-C.D.C, "Invasion" details the events surrounding a meteor that strikes the earth's surface just outside a small town in California. This meteor contains a large quantity of virulent disease, that starts a rapid spread throughout the small town. How will it be contained? What really happened? Who knows? It's a chilling prospect, at any rate--the thought that some rogue chunk of space rock could slam into the ground and give people some kind of space rabies is enough to keep plenty of people up at night. And this is, if you believe the opening scenes, plenty recent. The events are set in 2006, which is enough to make you curious if nothing else. They may have a good idea, the only question that needs solving from here is how well was that idea executed? The answer is, surprisingly well. It's an incredibly minimalist production--a lot of it is shot from a "patrol car's" "Dash cam" and most of it was shot inside some kind of park--but it's actually pretty spooky stuff. The suspense is ratcheted up to the maximum; due to the nature of the footage you are literally unable to see much more than several dozen feet in front of you except when you are given minor clues. You are absolutely, unquestionably, unable to see anything more than the director wants you to see. There's only one camera, and it's continually locked in place on the dash of this patrol car. And that's pretty scary when you stop and think about it. How much of this is legit, parenthetically, I don't know. There's not much way to know, really, unless you got a copy of that report that's purported to exist and went over it. I can't even tell if there IS a Lawton County, let alone where it is. They didn't make many mistakes--one of the characters was at her senior prom, and it's set in May, so that's pretty close. The ending is sort of out of nowhere...a gross mislabelling on the box claims that the film is eighty-one minutes long, when the last fifteen minutes of that run time are devoted to a credit roll. The special features include audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, as well as trailers for "Werewolf: The Devil's Hound", "Boy Eats Girl", "Night of the Living Dead 3D", "Skinwalkers", and an advertisement for Fearnet.com.

All in all, a very solid effort from Lions Gate this time out. In fact, it sets a new benchmark for minimalist filmmaking, and that's rarity enough by its own. They can't have spent more than a couple thousand dollars on this entire production, and "Invasion" should definitely serve as an example of what can be done on very little.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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