The last few years have seen a great many zombie films come to the screen. Since the new millennium started we’ve had zombies running amuck on a regular basis. There have been fast zombies, slow zombies, virus zombies, radiation zombies, video game zombies and of course George Romero’s “No more room in Hell” zombies. So when writer/director Mark E. Poole decided to throw another one on the fire with his film Dead Moon Rising, my initial reaction was “oh great, more zombies.” However, indy filmmaker Poole, while not breaking new ground with his subject matter, does manage to breath some new life into the somewhat overdone genre.
Dead Moon Rising follows unlikely hero Jim (Jason Crowe) as he and his coworkers Nick (Mike Seely) and Bob (Cory Grace) from Cheapskate Car Rentals try to find safety in the city of Louisville, KY during the rise of the undead. The trio soon falls in with a mixed group of survivors that changes constantly as new people are found and others a picked off by the ever present zombie menace.
What makes Dead Moon Rising different from the norm in this genre is a combination of quality production values, a good cast and Poole’s own mix of humor and horror. The film’s special effects are a mixture of CGI plus more traditional make-up and fake blood techniques. This blend allows the film to be more ambitious than sole reliance on either style would, especially considering its budgetary constraints. Similarly, the cast, while not “name brand” stars, generally has a solid background in theater and independent film. While prior experience doesn’t guarantee the quality of an actor’s ability, it does help. This shows with Poole’s cast’s ability to adapt to the requirements for comedy as well as action in the feature. Especially worth noting are the performances by Jason Crowe, Nick Seely and Tucky Williams, all of whom bring believability and real personality to their characters. Of course, without a good script, the best actors and special effects are not enough to carry a film. In this case Poole’s writing has delivered with witty dialogue, interesting characters, and even a few surprises.
This isn’t to say that Dead Moon Rising is a perfect film. Often the film suffers from many of the traps common to independent films such as tinny sound in some indoor settings, limitations for locations and sets that sometimes feel very much like something from a small theater production rather than a movie. Despite these problems, Dead Moon Rising is a humorous and fun film to watch if you are fans of the zombie genre. The movie even holds the current record for the largest zombie scene ever filmed with somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 people participating in the film’s climactic battle scene. So gather your canned food and shotguns, then head for the nearest mall. You can the check out Dead Moon Rising while you wait for help!