RISE OF THE ZOMBIES (2012)
Dir. Nick Lyon 89 mins
UK Release: 13th May 2013
Ok – so I have to start this with a confession. I own every single Asylum film that’s been released in the UK. Shoot me ! For the uninitiated, The Asylum are renowned for riding on the coattails of studio blockbusters with similarly titled b-movies – Paranormal Entity for example, American Battleship, Snakes On A Train etc. Read any online review of one of their movies and you’ll subject yourself to jaw-dropping levels of hatred. This is normally due to the contributor of said hate falling for the clever marketing trick of The Asylum and taking home the movie presuming it’s the big money box office draw. To me though that’s akin to buying economy cola from the supermarket and taking it back the next day saying you were conned into thinking it was Coke as the label was red. It was also 8p. Take a little notice once in a while!
Anyway, to their latest offering – Rise Of The Zombies. One thing about movies from The Asylum is that you can always expect a worthy cast of genre actors. Here we have the excellent threesome of Danny Trejo, Mariel Hemingway and Ethan Suplee. We start in San Francisco in a gore laden beginning as an SUV tumbles down one of the city’s famously steep streets only for most of the passengers to be pounced on by a baying hoard of zombies. As the camera pans away we see Alcatraz Island where we find Dr. Snyder (Hemingway) busily trying to formulate a vaccine to stop the spread of the zombie virus.
Among the other temporary residents on the island are Caspian (Trejo) and Marshall (Suplee) who in contrast to Dr. Snyder, favour a more survival orientated plan. Following the arrival to the island of some escapees from the mainland, they discover one is bitten which prompts a full scale lockdown – as well as a gore-soaked relentless action sequence. The solution they feel, is that they have to get off the island, but the raft can only carry a certain number of people. Dr. Halpern (LeVar Burton) volunteers to stay, primarily as he feels he has the perfect opportunity to discover the causes of the virus with so many samples to do tests on – one of whom is the zombified body of his daughter.
As the raft arrives back onto the mainland, Snyder is determined to make it into the city where she is sure she can find an already formulated vaccine. Marshall however is vehemently opposed, and says it’s not worth the risk, instead preferring to fight for his own survival by finding food, water and weapons. As the group splits into two, the bets are on as to who will successfully navigate the zombie infested streets of San Francisco to reach their goal.
Now in their 16th year, The Asylum have become gradually more successful, and it seems that they are putting their success back into their films as the look of Rise Of The Zombies is very impressive indeed – specifically the make-up and gore. Nitpickers will always have an agenda with an Asylum movie, and take aim at the CGI (not bad here) or the predictable script or the stilted performances regardless of how good the movie is, and to be honest this really is one of their best.
With the inclusion of actors like Mariel Hemingway and Danny Trejo, Rise Of The Zombies is lifted from a crowded market of DTV living dead flicks that endlessly populate the shelves of your local video store. If you’ve been unfairly put off watching movies made by The Asylum, you could do a lot worse than picking this title to begin your introduction to this budget label.
6 out of 10