Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

Zombie Town | Sight

By Steve Anderson
August , 2008

Zombie TownZombie Town
***
DVD
Directed by Damon Lemay
Written by Damon Lemay
Starring Adam Hose, Brynn Lucas, Dennis Lemoine, Philip Burke
Producd by Zorinah Juan, Mary Beth French
R
88 mins
2007

Considering that "Zombie Town" is brought to us via a production studio whose name translates literally into the English as "Shoes For All" (Zapatos Pour Todos), you'd think that "Zombie Town" might be a somewhat tongue-in-cheek affair.

The plot isn't something you see too often--a small-town mechanic in the tiny town of Otis, Vermont must turn to his ex-girlfriend and snowplow driving rival to survive a zombie apocalypse in the making.

And it was, in at least a small part, a tongue in cheek affair, though they could've gone a bit farther with it. For instance, where Alex asks "What do you mean, they're all dead" when Jake talks to her early on, it would've been great if Jake could have looked up at her and said something like "Dead! As in no longer living! They have CEASED to BE!" in the best Monty Python style. However, the old lady zombie brawl down at the Saturday night bingo hall was definitely worth the price of admission.

Which isn't to say I don't approve of "Zombie Town"--it's very much a Romero classical-style look at a town in the grips of the earliest stages of Zombie Apocalypse. From the disbelief of the civil authorities to the gradual nature of the infection and its spread, it's very, VERY Romero. I'm just convinced that "Zombie Town" could have been quite a bit more than what it actually was. I'm a bit disappointed--there's potential here that's simply not being observed.

Granted, these zombies are a bit more twitchy and aggressive than the Romero variety, but they don't run, and they don't talk. This puts them well ahead of most Romero knockoffs. And I'm significantly less than pleased by the whole "zombies as transport for some kind of bug / slug-thing" either. Too much "Night of the Comet" for my tastes, but there wasn't that much wrong with "Night of the Comet". So again, I approve.

I spent most of the movie approving of "Zombie Town"--for a low-budget zombie flick it was actually quite palatable. Often funny, and quick on the draw, it kept up a solid pace and yet still knew when to get serious.

The ending spends a little time being introspective before wandering straight into a bang-up brawl with a horde of zombies. This strange diversion gives a little extra credibility to the ending, and is a welcome surprise. Plus, a twist ending awaits, which is not half bad.

The special features include Spanish subtitles, a making-of featurette, a featurette on the special effects of "Zombie Town", and trailers for "Zombie Town", "Dead Lenny", "All In", "Arachnia", "Ice Queen" and "Illegal Aliens".

All in all, "Zombie Town" may be just a huge knockoff of "Night of the Comet", but it's still a pretty damn good knockoff of "Night of the Comet". That and when's the last time you actually saw one of those? Funny, scary and action-packed, "Zombie Town" is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

SightSight
***
DVD
Directed by Adam Ahlbrandt
Written by Adam Ahlbrandt
Starring Clayton Haske, Allison Persaud, Frank Traynor, Tony Luke Jr.
Produced by Clayton Haske
R
81 mins
2008

Sometimes the scariest things are the things you can't possibly understand, and Sight is going to prove that point nicely.

How, you ask? Simple--Sight is all about a guy who sees ghosts. He thinks he's alone in the universe, and everyone else thinks he's insane, but soon, he meets someone that changes his whole picture of the universe. Cheery happy thought, really...until you find out that, one, she also sees ghosts, and two, she's got a really cranky ex-boyfriend.

Oh, and did I mention that none of that is really true?

Yeah. That's the kind of movie that Sight actually is. It's one of those movies that's going to mess with your head like no tomorrow. Sight spends a whole lot of time being one massive freakout. The folks behind Sight actually manage to use the inferior grainy quality of their video to project an atmosphere of disjointed menace in which the dead are constantly watching...and they're often pissed.

They've also backed up their play with some downright creepy makeup effects--this is almost stuff that regular folks could be doing for Halloween, but they've put it together in such a fashion that it's actually plenty scary.

Normally, I know I rail on disjointed movies as being confusing and shoddily executed. This time, as happens sometimes, is different, and the disjointedness adds to the fear by making everything so damn unlikely to happen that watching any of it happen is a baffling and irrational conclusion. It contradicts logic by its very existence, and yet, you have a record of it happening right in front of you.

Oh...and every so often, they'll stick in a little extra something that makes things even creepier. There's this absolutely priceless sequence where an elderly blind woman is trying to close a closet door, and complains that it always sticks when she tries to shut it. It's only when Jeffrey, and by extension you, sees why it sticks that the whole thing makes sense in a really dark fashion.

Lemme put it this way...the next time you hear a regular bump in the night, you'll start to wonder just what made it. And that's the sign of a decent horror movie.

The ending is packed with the screech of poorly-played violins and even more fun with ghosties. Most of the loose ends will be taken care of, some more satisfactorally than others.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, as well as trailers for The Eye, Retribution, Seance, and The Backwoods.

All in all, Sight should prove to be a scary little pocket of glee, not without its problems and a marginal ending, but should still be plenty of spooky fun for anyone willing to take a crack at it.

 

 

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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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