April 27, 2011

Zombie Nightmare (Review)


Zombie Nightmare (1986)

(Credited) Director: Jack Bravman

1.5 / 5 zedheads

"Nightmare" is too strong of a nocturnal word to describe the sleepy level of terror in Zombie Nightmare. I'm thinking Zombie Nap or Zombie Daydream would be better titles. No, scratch that: Zombie Yawn.

Filmed in Montreal, Zombie Nightmare stars Canadian metal rocker and body builder Jon Mikl Thor as Tony Washington, a beefy but kind-hearted baseball player. As a child, Tony witnessed his father attempt to save a woman's life only to be stabbed and killed for his good deeds. Never the less, Tony has grown up to be just as self-sacrificing. Unfortunately, after beating up some robbers who try to knock over a grocery store, Tony is run down on the street by a reckless gang of teenagers. After a crazy voodoo women intervenes, Tony is resurrected as a zombie with a baseball bat and proceeds to kill his murderers, one-by-one. Slasher style.

Usually when zombies attack, it's their teeth around your neck and not their hands

I went into Zombie Nightmare for one reason. I could care less about seeing Adam West slumming it as the head of police. I really wasn't interested enough in seeing Tia Carrere in one of her first roles as a reckless teen. No, I wanted to see Jon Mikl Thor. I've become somewhat fascinated by Thor the Rock Warrior, best known for his starring role in Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare. Since hearing about his new project -- Thor: The Rock Opera -- that is screening at SHOCK STOCK this weekend, I wanted to catch up on the career of a man who produces some of my favorite guilty pleasure genres of music: glam metal. Thor, however, does not have much of a presence in this film. His role is small, and most of it is spent playing a dull zombie slasher stumbling around with a baseball bat. On the other hand, Thor is all over the soundtrack. Thor not only wrote much of the incidental music, performed by Thorkestra, but he also has a song on the soundtrack along with some noteworthy metal melodies like "Ace of Spades" by Motörhead.

Aside from its metal, Zombie Nightmare is quite boring cheese. All the actors are stilted and clumsy; even Adam West's charm is lost. Characters with ridiculous accents threaten to turn Zombie Nightmare into a comedy whereas its by-the-numbers slasher elements threaten to bury Zombie Nightmare's potentially interesting undead elements. The make up is decent, but none of the effects are especially interesting. It's just a dull, awkward movie occasionally punctuated with hilariously bad lines and production mistakes. Try to keep track of how many times Zombie Tony's hair changes length.

While you could go out and invest in the special edition DVD that was released in 2010, for your money I'd suggest seeing Zombie Nightmare the way I first saw it long ago: being mocked as a great episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

In fact, MS3K's ribbing of the film is more interesting than the film itself. The same can be said for the history of the film's production and its resulting trivia. For example, did you know that head teenage sociopath Jim is played by Shawn Levy, a man who has gone on to direct such comedies as Date Night and both Night at the Museum films? Then there's the matter of who actually directed Zombie Nightmare. Although ex-porn producer Jack Bravman is credited as the director, it seems that the credit (or should we say 'blame') belongs elsewhere. Read all about it at Canuxploitation's review and brief production history of Zombie Nightmare.

In short, Zombie Nightmare has little going for it. If not for being a Canadian horror oddity that was mocked on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, I probably wouldn't have given it much time at all.