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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
The first zombie comedy.
This film garnered a reputation as a big cult classic during the many years after the VHS tape went out of print and there was no release on DVD. I don't know that it deserves "Classic" status but it was original and as far as I know, the first film to do a humorous take on the zombie film. Released in 1986, it capitalized on the fondness for the Fifties popular at that time (Back To the Future, Peggy Sue Got Married) and began with a black and white fifties flashback in which a dangerous experiment crashes to earth from an alien spaceship and is found by a local teen near a university campus. A sluglike organism hops into the finders mouth while at the same time his girlfriend, waiting in his car, is killed by an escaped homicidal maniac.
Flash forward 28 years and we find college student Chris Romero and his handicapped roommate J.C.in their dorm room at Corman University (note the names). Going out Chris sees frat girl Cynthia and immediately has a major crush on her but realizes that she would probably never notice him since he's not in a fraternity. It's Pledge Week however, and some frat boys string them along, promising they will be admitted if they steal a dead body from the University Med Center and leave it at the front door of a rival frathouse. This leads them to a lab where the body of the boy who originally found the space experiment in 1959 is being kept cryogenically frozen. They release the body and with it the slugs that can enter any living person, kill them and reanimate the body. The expected living dead outbreak proceeds from there.
The film strikes a fairly good balance between the gruesome premise and the comic tone it seeks keeping everything light while at the same time making the zombie threat dangerous and just scary enough, though by no measure is the film truly frightening. Jason Lively, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow are good as the student principals, but it's Tom Atkins show as the hard-nosed and suicidal Police Detective Ray Cameron, straight out of a Noir drama. It seems the detective had been dating the girl who had been killed by the escaped maniac and has blamed himself for her murder ever since. Atkins was already known by horror and sci-fi audiences from appearances in The Fog, Escape From New York, Creepshow and Halloween 3, as well as a recurring role on television's Rockford Files.He's perfect in the role of the cynical cop and plays it straight, as if he's the hero in a Fifties movie, and keeps things moving along.
Fans really love this film and it manages to be entertaining throughout its 88 minute run time without sagging. The slug things were a novel take on the zombie idea and inspired more serious films like Slither. Director-writer Fred Dekker is to be congratulated for coming up with the idea that a zombie film could possibly be a comedy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
TOM ATKINS IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE FILM
By Terry W. Sprouse
I didn’t realized it when I first watched the film years ago, but upon viewing the “Director’s Cut” DVD, I recognized what made this movie so unforgettable was Tom Atkin’s character, Detective Cameron. At his first appearance in the film, he comes across as a funny yet “tough as nails” detective. Yet, it soon becomes apparent that, despite his classic heroic exterior, on the inside Detective Cameron is in a downward spiral.
Detective Cameron has never come to terms with the death of his own girlfriend 28 years earlier at the hands of an escaped maniac. While investigating a rash of dead bodies coming back to life, he realizes that history may be about to repeat itself in the lives of college lovebirds, Chris and Cindy. Cameron confides in Chris how he tracked down his own girlfriend’s murderer, shot him, and buried him a field right behind Cindy’s sorority building.
The dramatic climax of the movie, that sent chills down my back, comes when Detective Cameron tells Chris, “the only difference between you and me is that your girlfriend goes on living while mine was killed by an ax murderer.”
After that, all bets are off as the ax murderer returns from the dead and Detective Cameron, Chris and Jill battle an onslaught of zombies.
The film truly has it all: terror, humor, and arguably the most beautiful “scream queen” ever to grace the silver screen (yes, Jill Whitlow tops even Jamie Lee Curtis). But what sets it above all other films of the genre is the sense of pathos that is percolating just below the surface.
The heart and soul of the film belong to Detective Cameron (via Tom Atkins' exquisitely nuanced portrayal).
One of the DVD special features is entitled “Tom Atkins, Man of Action,” where Tom Atkins relates some funny and fascinating stories from his long Hollywood career. Atkins also participates in the cast commentary of the film.
Another outstanding horror/comedy film of the era that I recommend is "Return of the Living Dead," written and directed by the great Dan O'Bannon (author of "Dark Star" and "Alien").
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful. See all 213 customer reviews...
First I would like to say if you haven't seen this movie I ...
By desirae asbell
First I would like to say if you haven't seen this movie I envy you , I wish I could view it again with fresh eyes . It is a space zombie horror movie with comedy elements. The movie is full of over the top 80's culture . It's stars a hard boiled detective coping with the decisions he made years ago , two lame college students trying to find their way in life . And a tun of space slugs who turn people into zombies . Blue ray made the movie look great and the bonus features are cool .