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A few months ago, I was reading about Dead Moon Rising on one of the horror gossip sites that I check out daily, and said site mentioned that this film featured what could very well be the world's largest zombie scene (a claim which is also made on the official site of the film and on its DVD cover). Being a fan of zombie films, I knew that I would have to check this one out eventually; however, the trailer didn't do a whole lot for me, so I put off purchasing it. When it recently popped up on Netflix, I decided to give it a shot and see if it lived up to that rather bold statement, and more importantly, to see if the film itself was any good. The final verdict? I'm glad I didn't buy it, but it's not exactly a horrible film either.
Review by Chad
Added: April 02, 2008
Kicking things off is an introduction to Jim (Jason Crowe) and Nick (Mike Seely), a pair of losers who work at the aptly-named Cheapskate Car Rental in Louisville, Kentucky. Jim is your typical young slacker who will probably never move on from this sort of minimum wage job, while Nick is that cranky old asshole that every place of employment seems to have at least one of. Our heroes are going through a pretty lousy day as the customers coming into the store are far from courteous and polite, but things will get a whole lot worse for them once they realize that the dead have returned to the land of the living in search of human flesh.
From there, the two meet up with various survivors - including the barely legal April (Erica Goldsmith) and the "Terminatrix" known as Vix (Tucky Williams) - while attempting to stay alive and... well, it's a zombie movie that doesn't stray very far from the genre guidelines, so you should know where it goes from there. Throw in an ample amount of laughs, some flashbacks, and a character who breaks the fourth wall not unlike Zack did on Saved by the Bell, and you've got yourself another "zomedy" film.
So, how about "the world's largest zombie scene"? Well, I can't confirm or deny that claim as being legit, but I will say that there's an insane amount of extras featured in that scene, somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve hundred to be precise. Granted, most of them have minimal makeup applied and are only there to round out the mob, but the fact that an indie filmmaker was able to get that many people together in one spot for a single scene in his movie is impressive nonetheless. The rest of the movie is much more subdued, as aside from that one scene, most of the zombie action is limited to only a handful of zombies appearing together at any given time. That's to be expected, of course, but I thought that I should point it out for those of you expecting to see massive hordes of them appearing together from the beginning of the film until the end.
That's the highlight of the film, and now, we come to the reason why I'm glad I didn't make that purchase. To be fair, Dead Moon Rising is in the same league as most of the other indie zombie comedies that are floating around out there, but that's just the thing: it's basically the same movie we've seen time and time again, only, with different faces and some different jokes. Aside from the impressive amount of extras and a couple of the plot twists, I could easily name off at least a dozen films that play out in the exact same fashion as this one. That's not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, mind you; after all, I'm a huge fan of eighties slashers, and those are just about as formulaic as they come. However, when you're dealing with a genre that is flooded with similar films, a movie really has to rise above its peers to be seen as impressive. That's not the case with Dead Moon Rising, as it merely stands beside them while bringing nothing new to the table.
Again, it's not a bad film, and had it come out prior to Shaun of the Dead and the flood of imitators, I would have went with a much higher rating. The acting is perfectly acceptable for this type of film (Jason Crowe and Mike Seely in particular were downright excellent), there are some genuinely funny moments with plenty of pop culture references for the geeks in the crowd, and while the special effects were far from great, I've seen much, much worse. Check it out if you can't get enough of the zombies and comedy formula, but think twice if you've gotten sick of that pairing or are on the fence about it. 5/10.
- added 08/01/2009, 10:01 PM
Hello. Recently found your site as I was
searching for reviews on this very movie. I am the
Jason Crowe who played "Jim" in DMR. I
wanted to say thanks for the review (and of course
the kind words about my acting). I agree with your
review and find it to be one of the most fair and
open minded reviews I have read. DMR is your
standard zombie flick with a few twists. One of
which was Jim breaking the fourth wall. Some
people enjoy that, others not so much. As an actor
I had fun with it. For the record we counted at
least 1200 people on the day of the final scene.
It was perhaps the most exciting and horrifying
day of my life. Sitting on a $30,000 motorcycle
that out weighs me a good deal and having 600
zombie extras running toward you can damn near
make one wet themselves ( I didn't of course... Or
atleast thats my story ;p) DMR being my first
movie I was pretty excited about it and I of
course love DMR in all its indie glory. I just
wish more people who rented understood that it was
a low/no budget film and not a million dollar
venture. It was just a fun zombie film made by
passionate people. Much like the other films I am
working on. Which with luck you will be able to
review sooner or later. Hell-Ephone would be one
and my directorial debut "The Legacy"
and "Hell House". Anyway thanks again. I
love the site.
- added 08/07/2011, 01:02 AM
Absolutely loved this one. Great example about
how low funds and sub-par acting doesn't
necesarily mean you can't make an entertaining
movie. With all that said, I really didn't like
the end. The mob scene wasn't anything special
other than the large number of extras and the
whole scene was just way to abrupt and a bit to
deus ex machina for my liking