What happens when you throw a bachelor party in a world that has a mysterious plague sweeping through it, turning people into flesh-eating zombies? Well, you throw a STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD, of course!! Written and directed by Neil Jones, STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD is a fun little zombie film that hits all the right comedy and horror notes. Jones never tries to merge the comedy and horror elements and knows that by keeping them separate he can make a successful film. Though from what I saw, I wouldn’t label this one a “zombie-comedy” per se. It does have comedic elements in it, but STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD isn’t trying to be like a SHAUN OF THE DEAD or a TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL type of comedy. There’s moments of comedy relief but not enough to call this one a zombie-comedy hybrid. But that’s okay. Jones puts in just the right amount of comedy to give this one it’s own identity and make it stand out among the many films trying to become the next SHAUN OF THE DEAD.
The film begins like all zombie flicks should … with a guy strapped to a hospital-like bed getting torn apart by zombies. That certainly grabbed my attention, and it also lets us know that the zombie makeup and f/x are gonna be pretty sweet and well-executed. After the attention-grabber opening we quickly join Dean (Sebastian Street), Marky (Bruce Lawrence), Ronny (Joe Rainbow), Gordon (Doug Grant), and Sanjay (Rez Kempton) as they’re celebrating Dean’s upcoming nuptials. They start off at the bar where Dean is naked, tied up, and being whipped by a stripper. After they’ve had enough ass-whipping, they all hit the limo with sexy stripper Candy (Sophia Anderson) in tow and head off for the country. Marky is the one who organized the bachelor party and is the only one who knows where they’re headed. They pull up to a huge military base where Marky has set it up for them to play “Zomball,” which is paintball played with electrical stun guns and real live zombies. But the gang disobey’s the golden rule of Zomball (“Never, never humiliate a zombie”) and finds themselves in a real fight for their lives as the zombies take over the military base.
The first thing that’s really likable here is the cast. I bought into the fact that these were a bunch of long time friends celebrating one of them getting hitched. They all had great chemistry together. I also liked Candy’s character. We think Candy is just a simple stripper and bimbo ‘tute, but she proves to be a strong woman who happens to look great in a tight leather outfit (no; she looks fantastic in that leather outfit). Everyone involved does a great job and the only complaint I have isn’t with the acting, but with a few of the accents. Ronny (Joe Rainbow), for example, has such a thick Cockney accent that it’s very difficult to understand him when he talks most of the time. But writer-director Jones writes some funny dialogue that isn’t trying to be too clever for it’s own good. And as mentioned above, Jones never ruins his horrific scenes by throwing in misplaced humor. He keeps the two elements separate and its a total success. There’s also a twist with one of the characters about half way in that works. It’s an overall well-written film.
It’s also nice to get a modestly-budgeted zombie film that actually has some good looking zombies in it!! The zombie makeup is convincing and the special f/x are really well-executed. There’s one big scene at the end that has a lot of CGI explosions that look pretty terrible, but luckily this was at the end of the film (god I fucking hate CGI explosions and flames!!). And at a tight 81 minute runtime, STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD never over-extends it’s stay (STAG don’t drag. Sorry). I also liked the fact that Jones began his story with the plague already having swept across Europe. The story here takes place in the time frame after the plague hit, but before there’s a full-blown zombie apocalypse. This was nice. I must admit that I’m pretty tired of watching zombie flicks that document the beginning of the apocalypse. They’re all pretty much the same lately. This was refreshing.
Is STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD gonna be the best zombie film of the year? Doubtful. But this one is a lot of fun with good, well-written characters, solid acting, good zombie makeup, and excellent special f/x. This is a pretty cool find. STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD was just released on DVD in the U.K on January 9, 2012, and be sure to look for it on iTunes as well. Here’s the link on Amazon’s U.K page. Check this one out; it’s nice to see a film not trying to be something it isn’t and really excelling at what it is!!
Director: Neil Jones (& writer & producer)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 5.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 4 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer