Imagine I called you today and said "I've got an idea for a movie. It has no script, we have two weeks of pre-production and we'll shoot the whole thing in 24 hours." Now imagine you went along with it. That was how director Tom Townsend pitched Zombie Doomsday. A horror film shot in one day at one location with all the dialogue being improvisational. We are left with a one of a kind film that should stand as one of the indie greats.
Chad Worthington is a former movie star that has been reduced to shooting a reality show pilot where he visits his hometown and shows America his humble beginnings. He brings his airhead girlfriend Tiffany to see his first job, a sports bar called "The Ballpark". He starts talking with the townspeople and within moments of arriving gets his ass kicked by a biker, chewed out by his ex and told he isn't recognized by practically anyone in the restaurant. After he berates the help and the patrons, the eatery is robbed at gunpoint. The assailants instruct them all to get into the freezer and, as the wait to be released, experience an earthquake that (literally) wakes the dead. Now they all have to come up with a plan for survival, or die trying.
This movie did with about $100 what most horror movies cannot do with $100 million: make a great film. While the majority of the characters don't even have names that are uttered on screen, you feel a connection with all of them. The actors are making things up as they go along, passing a baton to their costars and hoping that they are carried through the scene. And it works, plain and simple. ZD is light on the blood and gore factor, but trust me, you don't miss it. It almost feels like a documentary of things that have actually taken place, thanks to the help of the gifted actors and actresses.
What's more fascinating is the feature lenght documentary that comes with the movie. Titled "Another Zombie Flick", it shows everything that went into the movie through cast and crew interviews. Some of the cast was pulled out of the crew in order to fill gaps left by no shows. Cast members went onto the set only knowing what they were bringing to the table and the basic plot.
I will say that being in close quarters on the set puts the audio at a slight disadvantage. Some of the actors reactions, real and improv, we so loud that it is hard to hear the reactions of others, even carrying into some of the dialogue. The character of Chad Worthington almost became a caricature so to speak of everything one can hate about a character on screen. He was over the top in some respects, but after the zombies come to play, we are treated to more of an ensemble piece, so you tend to forgive and forget with the character.
A charming, witty and scary film is difficult to come by in mainstream horror today. Yet Zombie Doomsday proves that an unconventional concept to achieve incredible results.
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