Saturday, 13 March 2010

Foree's A Jolly Good Zombie Slayer

Apocalypse Of The Dead
aka Zone Of The Dead

‘‘Hell is going to overflow, and the dead will rise forever’’

Asphyxiated Eastern Europeans are transformed into Serbian Zombies when a bio hazardous green gas escapes containment, whilst being transported by rail. It’s a train wreck in more ways than one as the unprotected locals mutate into flesh eating fiends, in this cheap ticket to terror. If you are prepared for economy class horror then Apocalypse Of The Dead should see you through till the end of its well intentioned jaunty journey.

Zombie ass kicking legend Ken Foree, Dawn Of The Dead (1978), is ex CIA agent Mortimer Reyes, now with Interpol and based in Serbia. It’s the eve of his retirement but he has one last case to undertake before closure on a distinguished career. Along with long time friend and professional colleague, Inspector Dragan Belic, he is the experienced local back up for rookie Interpol agent Mina Milius (Kristina Klebe). Assigned with a couple of other agents she is designated to transport a known criminal across Serbia to Belgrade. A straight forwarded enough first mission for a promoted field agent. That is until they enter the Zone Of The Dead !.

The scenario is set then for a Serbian Zombie smack down that unashamedly borrows all the classic un-dead themes, and throws them into the monster mix, to serve up a concoction that plays out like a cross between The Return Of The Living Dead (1985) and Assault On Precinct 13 (1976). This actually works very much in the movies favour, as what is clearly lacking in budget and acting ability is effusively made up for in pandering to its intended audience. Casual viewers and non genre fans need not fret themselves if this eludes them, but Zombie lovers, more likely than not, will find more to enjoy in this quirky outing than the majority.

When the toxic transient clears from the crisp night air it has infiltrated, its effect upon those that have inhaled it are all too apparent. Man, woman and child alike, asphyxiated in death are resurrected as the living dead. They hunger, for blood !. Anyone unaffected by the breached green gas soon fall foul of the rampaging mutants. One man, freed from the incarceration of the asylum following a breach of security during the fateful fallout, believes that this is The End Of Days. He sees the evil lurking all around and envelopes the signs as a prophetic reality rendering of The Book Of Revelations. Upon himself he takes it to embrace this malicious malady of mankind, and designate himself a soldier of God. Step forth then this scripture quoting religious zealot against Zombiedom. With a war wagon stacked with weapons aplenty he is readied for the freeway to Armageddon !.

Hitting a similar road with different intent are Agent Mina Milius, Inspector Dragan Belic, a handful of agents, and of course Ken Foree as Mortimer Reyes, together with their custodial criminal to be delivered as instructed to Belgrade. Their journey of course soon hits a cross roads where the only sign of life is them !.
Operation Black Smoke is the insidious banner behind the dead coming back to life. A decades before discovered ancient burial ground, where plague victims were uncovered in a state of still living cell maturation, was saturated in chemicals which reacted with dead matter bringing life once again where there was none. The government kept the incident a secret and let their scientists lose on the phenomenon, and like Doctor Frankenstein their experiments began to create something they could breathe new life into. Some twenty years or so later lightening strikes, and It’s Alive, It’s Alive !.

Time for the traditional cry of ‘‘Aim for the head’’ as the freaks are on the streets, and limbs hang from sinewy severed threads. It’s bloody barbecue time Serbian style, where suddenly Ken Foree is subconsciously transported back to Dawn Of The Dead (1978), and even gets to metaphorically throw out some inside one liners that true Zombie fan boys will revel in. When it is suggested that the handful of survivors hold up in a mall Ken’s character Mortimer Reyes raises an eyebrow and tells all to trust him that it wont be safe to do that !.

With the Zombie contingent far outnumbering the living, and Reyes and Milius witnessing their friends and colleagues falling victim to the flesh eaters, they have no choice but to unshackle their custodian and take arms alongside the criminal to fight their way through the hordes of hell. To their surprising aid comes the crazy Zombie slaying zealot, bible bashing with a bazooka and a line to the lord that strikes down all that stand before him. Together the small group of the still living cut a swathe through the sea of the dead in a battle to survive. Sword slaying, head severing, limb lopping, bullet blazing bad ass-ness follows in a fulfilling final reel that puts a lot of modern horrors to shame. Not one iota of moment spoiling CGI fills the screen, much to the credit of all involved in this gleefully gruel glut fest. Sure its low budget but it still does the good stuff old school style, and that shows big time, scoring bonus points for its intended audience.

Throw in a couple of genuinely neat and originally quirky little ideas to the Zombie genre, such as a scene where Reyes has to walk through a segment of bizarrely dormant Zombies, all laid out on their backs as if resting !?, and it is evident that the makers of the movie weren’t out simply to just cash in on the over saturated maturation of Zombie flicks.
Leave all expectations behind, slip the brain into neutral and enjoy this zany Zombie take as it is intended. The stilted delivery of dialogue is reminiscent of those English dubbed Italian schlock flicks from the Eighties, but funnier. It’s kinda like tuning into a late night obscure cable channel and picking up a foreign movie that is totally unintelligible, yet at the same time transfixes you with its visual vibrancy and enticing entertainment value.
Apocalypse Of The Dead sure wont win any Oscar but it may just win your horror lovin’ heart, that is unless one of its Serbian Zombies doesn’t tear it from your chortling carcass first !.

Movie Rating: 5/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source Region 2 PAL UK DVD

Apocalypse Of The Dead (2009)
Director Milan Konjevic & Milan Todorovic
With Ken Foree, Kristina Klebe,
Emilio Roso & Miodrag Krstovic


  1. Lot of dead movies I'm now dying to see.


  2. Hey Jesse, welcome to BBB. Just watched Romero's Survival Of The Dead last evening on Blu-Ray, not bad. A little more quirkier than his previous Zombie flicks but still with a sound story offering something fresh. There's some nice gore & a neat little tie in with his earlier Diary Of The Dead.