Reel Zombies (2008) – By Duane L. Martin

Mike Masters and David J. Francis (playing themselves) are out to make the third installment in their Zombie Night series, Zombie Night 3. While the first two movies were largely just crap, they have high hopes and good intentions going into the third one, determined not to make the same mistakes they made in the previous two. There’s a difference this time around though. There’s actually been a zombie apocalypse, so they not only have to contend with the problems of making the film itself, but they have to deal with the real life zombies as well, causing them to deal with problems they never had to deal with on the previous two films.

This film is shot in a documentary style by a guy that Mike hired to film the whole production process from start to finish, and the funny thing about it is that it really does feel like a documentary about a film production rather than an actual film in and of itself. This is in large part due to the naturalness of the characters. These people feel like real people trying to get a film made and dealing with all of the problems that go along with that. In fact, if you took out the actual zombies, this would really be a pretty cool behind the scenes look at an independent film production. It’s that detailed and realistic in its presentation.

Something else that’s great about this film is that many of the characters in it are just likeable from the start. David J. Francis in particular has this infectious energy that just makes you instantly want to be a part of whatever it is he’s working on.

I think the fact that there were real zombies walking around while they were trying to shoot their film was more of a distraction than anything else. It was necessary to the story, but the real interest here isn’t in the dead, but in the living. Everyone from the Pissed off transportation guy to the irritable production manager to the camera guy who only speaks French to the old, bearded zombie wrangler and his team all create a cast of colorful characters that make you want to keep watching to see what’ll happen next. You almost feel bad for them at times with a lot of the stuff they have to deal with. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out in the end, but you’re pulling for them to succeed nonetheless.

This new release from Synapse Films includes audio commentary with Mike Masters, David J. Francis and Producer Stephen Papadimitriou, over 40 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes and the original trailer for the film.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of an independent film production, then you’ll definitely want to see this one. While the characters are probably a little more extreme in some ways than people you’d normally be dealing with, it’s still a great look at the film making process and all the troubles one can run into, especially if there happens to be a zombie apocalypse before you even get started.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Synapse Films website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the DVD from Amazon or from any of the other usual outlets.