Twitter Plot Summary: The undead are back again, this time in Eastern Europe… because it’s cheaper to film there.
One thing the zombie genre is very good at is reusing famous faces in roles that you would assume are beneath them. It happened with Ving Rhames in the Dawn of the Dead reboot and the totally unconnected remake of Day of the Dead. In this case the famous face is Ken Foree, most well known in horror circles for starring in George Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead. What’s he been up to lately? Not much, it seems. The zombie stigma is apparently one that’s difficult to get over.
Set in Eastern Europe – and no doubt filmed there because it’s very cheap to do so – the rather generic title of Apocalypse of the Dead (or the equally generic Zone of the Dead in other circles), a zombie virus is accidentally released into the local area and it’s down to some Interpol agents escorting a prisoner to find their way out of the area before the living dead chomp them down into little bits. It’s your usual zombie nonsense, no two ways about it. It’s heightened a little by the police procedural element, the agents forced to work in tandem with the man they are transporting. When you also find out that Foree’s character isn’t too far away from retirement and has only ever had to use his gun twice, you know full well that he may die before the credits roll, and you can guarantee he’ll be firing his gun over and over again without being seen to reload. Just to add an extra layer of weird, there’s also a chap who quotes biblical scripture as he lays waste to the zombie hordes, but as he’s not developed beyond this one trait he’s almost superfluous to the story.
When watching zombie films there is a certain expectation for particular conventions to be name checked. Apocalypse of the Dead tries to do something a little different with that formula but never succeeds in being anything more than your standard zombie film with a couple of half decent but underdeveloped ideas marking it out from the pack. The zombies are controlled by a screaming HazMat zombie, and the cop/prisoner dynamic is certainly interesting, but then you have the bad acting, vaguely competent special effects and a script that doesn’t go to any effort to make us care for these people. Let them die, why not?
Apocalypse of the Dead isn’t a badly made film, even if it has all the hallmarks of yet another low budget Eastern European production. The performances are, on the whole, terrible. Even Ken Foree looks like he’s only here for the money, which let’s face it is probably true. The washed out and generally dark colour palette makes it look like the zombie equivalent of Highlander: The Source, which can never be considered a recommendation. There’s also the small issue of badly dubbed characters and zombies that only occasionally look impressive. You can only go so far with good direction when the rest of the production is so poor in almost every detail.