Man I really wanted to like this one!! This has everything going for it being a modern cult classic: It’s a zombie flick; it’s the first zombie flick made in Serbia; and it has horror icon Ken Foree (who starred in 1978’s Dawn of the Dead). Sadly this isn’t even close to being a cult classic; in fact it’s a very standard zombie romp with nothing new or original to it. And let’s face it; if you wanna be a cult classic you need to have a lot of gore. Nope, not here.
Ken Foree stars as Agent Mortimer Reyes (yes; “Mortimer”) who is recruited to help escort a prisoner, played by Emilio Roso, someplace for some reason (it’s never really made clear). In another plot we learn about “Operation Black Smoke” which has been experimenting on the bones on the ancient dead who are buried in the industrial zone in Serbia. When those bones are soaked in a combo of ammonia, benzene, “and other chemicals”, it seems that dead cells come back to life. Uh, ok. The two stories obviously run into each other (quite literally actually) and we get the standard zombie action and gore.
The beginning was actually promising and what it lacked in a coherent plot set-up it made up for in a fast pace with some zombie mayhem. But after the film establishes the survivors it action and story come to a grinding halt. Not much happens on the middle of the movie. The prisoner Foree (I mean “Mortimer”) is transferring seems to know an awful lot about the zombie outbreak and about how to kill them. Why? Who is he? Did he work on Operation Black Smoke? We never really know folks; it’s just another part of the plot that’s completely left unanswered.
We do get to meet a rather fun fellow simply named Armageddon (played by Vukota Brajovic). At the first sign of the outbreak, Armageddon becomes a super zombie killing machine using (mostly) knives and guns to carve his way through the undead hordes. He does get rather annoying as he spouts endless bible verses after each zombie he kills, but it was worth it. He was one of the more interesting and fun characters that again we learn nothing about. Where does he come from? Why does he also seem to have some kind of insight as to the zombie outbreak? Hey who knows, maybe zombie outbreaks occur often in Serbia?? Armageddon is a wasted character who just occasionally appears in scenes in order to kill off zombie in juicy ways.
And then there’s Ken Foree. Ken Ken Ken. Foree looked pretty bored during most of the movie and seemed to just be going through the motions. He does have two funny Dawn of the Dead references: The first comes when he and the other survivors come running out of their hiding place. Its morning and Foree practically looks into the camera and says, “Its dawn already.” It doesn’t sound like anything, but you really need to see how he panders to the camera!! The other reference is more direct. A character is quoting some ancient book which predicts their current predicament: “Hell is going to overflow and the dead will rise forever.” Kinda sounds like “When there’s no more room in Hell the dead will walk the earth”; doesn’t it??
Look, this isn’t a horrible “worst flick I’ve ever seen” film. The gore is pretty decent, the beginning and end have quick paces, and the characters of Armageddon and Prisoner are pretty fun. This is just a (sub-)standard zombie flick that feels like it goes through the motions and didn’t even try to offer anything new or original. The zombies themselves are inconsistent throughout the film. In the beginning they can run really fast, but at the end when they have Mortimer surrounded they seem to be only able to shuffle around slowly. They are also able to growl and grunt like wild animals.
The film makers have obviously seen their share of zombie movies and you can feel their love for the genre. Maybe next time we can get something with a little more originality and gore. The film makers also seem to be confused about the title of their movie. In the beginning it’s called Apocalypse of the Dead and after the end credits it’s called Zone of the Dead. Does anyone have the phone number for the guys (and robots) over at Mystery Science Theater 3000?? This one is recommended only for the zombie completist.
Directors: Milan Konjevic and Milan Todorovic
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 5.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 3.5 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer