THE ZOMBIE KING (2013)
Dir- Aidan Belzaire
Starring- Edward Furlong, Corey Feldman, George McCluskey, David McClelland, Michael Gamarano, Jon Campling.
Aidan Belzaire’s THE ZOMBIE KING is yet another entry into the ever expanding and continuing zombie horror genre, and with the popularity of THE WALKING DEAD it looks like the undead won’t be going away anytime soon. Admittedly with this film I was going in with low expectations as I heard a few negative things about it, though to my surprise, despite certain flaws in both structure and layout, what started initially on paper as something that will leave most horror fans yawning with the feeling of ‘seen it, move on, next’ ends up being a horror yarn which at least works with its low budget.
Admittedly the film has Furlong and Feldman’s names on the poster, but this is a low budget horror film, and even though they are only on screen for a short amount of time, it’s understandable for the makers to place their names at the front, to get some publicity off of that recognition. Hey I was interested in seeing a zombie film featuring John Connor and Edgar Frog. But it’s three of the English actors who we are introduced whose characters are the main focus of the opening section of the picture. These are Ed (McCluskey) a postman, Munch (McClelland) a milkman, and Boris (Gamanaro) a traffic warden who all meet, when the local town they are currently operating their respective trades in is besieged by, what they at first don’t conceive of being, the undead.
It’s not long till they realise that they are surrounded by an ever increasing horde of zombies, and at the same time the government have found out about this outbreak and have quarantined the town, setting up a perimeter and ordering soldiers to shoot on sight no matter what. Our luckless trio soon meet up with another desperate group of survivors, and holed up in a church, meeting a drunken priest, Father Lawrence (Campling) who explains the legend of the zombie king. It turns out that a normal man, Samuel Peters (Furlong) has dabbled with the occult and has made a pact with the god of malevolence Kalfu (Feldman) and in the process has been granted the chance to be with his recently deceased wife, though has to help Kalfu in his diabolical plan to resurrect the dead and bring chaos to the earth and like any evil malevolent god, set about its imminent destruction.
Firstly I left the screening of THE ZOMBIE KING feeling entertained and somehow coming out thinking, yes it was another zombie flick and many could see it as being pretty poor, but the in the end as an independent horror, the film sets out to do what it’s there to do and that’s entertain despite some setbacks. The film does suffer from a few flaws, and that’s in its pacing and particular layout of certain scenes. We flip between sequences of Peter, at his wife’s bedside while she is dying, back to the three luckless characters who are battling zombies.
This comes across as slightly jarring and seems to be unevenly placed, and often repetitive. The balance between the comedy and the drama is well handled though, and McCluskey, McClelland and Gamanaro are very good in their roles playing likeable characters to root for, nicely adding comic banter and scenes, lending some much needed amusement, and this balance works for a change, as we criss cross between a grieving husband and a zombie apocalypse action that ensues. Furlong is not bad in his role as the film’s recently widowed husband and then eventually the zombie king, and Feldman seems to be tearing up and chewing the scenery as Kalfu.
If anything its continuing the recent trend of having an American genre actor added into an English production (see Jason Mewes in THE DEVILS TOWER as a recent example) and admittedly this gives the picture a bit of extra clout in the buying/distribution market, though it does seem to hamper certain parts of the film, even if their on screen only for a short amount of time, where the budget of the movie has been spent getting the stars and it seems like its rushing some of its production. This seems to be recognisable in the final part of the film where the sections of the main story and the overall mythology is told to us by the character of drunken priest, and certain points and significant areas of the film seem to be glided over, in favour of adding more characters and extra back story scenes that are close to bloating the film and cramming too much in, but not making it clear to the viewer what context this helps towards the overall story. It seems that, as usual, with a bigger budget the makers, could have expanded on there idea and the story and provided a solid and stronger flick.
That’s not to put down what they have produced overall, and Belzaire does have a good hand at providing a balance between humour and action and as mentioned before I left the film feeling entertained and in spite of some negative reactions that I read and heard about from other genre fans overall THE ZOMBIE KING provides enough entertaining characters, some nice comedic touches, and enough sprint in its story to get you through it’s running time, and overall left me satisfied enough to see that the makers are trying to create something that stands above the already bloated arena of zombie cinema, which can be frequently prone to far worse efforts than this one.