Stag Night of the Dead (2010)
Directed by Napoleon Jones (Neil Jones)
Tom Hanks never had a bachelor party like this. Dean is getting married tomorrow, and douchey best man Marky has arranged for an un-toppable bachelor party. This British zombedy is the story of six buds and their hired “stag night” entertainment (read: a stripper), who find themselves the latest willing victims in a game of Zomball. The film starts out pretty slow (which is not a good sign for a movie with a trim 80-minute running time), as we peek in on Dean hanging upside down, naked, getting whipped by the above-mentioned stripper. The opening setting, coupled with the movie’s promo art, had me a bit concerned that this would be yet another Zombie Strippers knock off. Fortunately, this is not the case.
Once the mid-day nudy bar debauchery comes to an end, the gang, stripper in tow, set off to a military complex, where they are greeted and instructed on the rules of Zomball (at this point, the film‘s pace picks up considerably). Essentially, in a post-zombie-infected world, you can pay money to hunt zombies in a controlled environment. Kinda like laser tag with the undead. This idea evokes a bit of The Running Man or Death Race 2000, in that it’s people doing fucked up shit for sport or game, and it seems to be acceptable.
The rules of Zomball are recounted to the players several times, the most important of which: Never humiliate a zombie. Whatever that means. And for the number of times this rule is reiterated, it never really comes full circle. Sure, our rowdy bunch of partiers hard end up humiliating some zombies…but it never really seems as big a deal as the rule would indicate. Despite this, and the slow beginning, the movie is pretty enjoyable. The characters are likable (when they are supposed to be) and annoying or hate-able (when called for). The stripper character is fleshed out (no, not in a nudity way) far more than most strippers in low-budget horror flicks are. Of course, there is the token sideways-hatted guy that speaks mostly in slang, who refers to himself often in the third person as DJ Ronny (think a British Loopz from Detour). DJ Ronny is good for a few laughs, though, and is the catalyst for some of the film’s funnier moments--Zomboobs and a Zomblow job.
And the makeup and special effects? Pretty damn good. There’s a scene in particular where the Flounder-like character, replete in a “This is my drinking shirt” shirt, gets smashed between the gates as they are closing, right as a zombie shoves his arm through the back of his head and out his mouth. The arm coming through this guy’s head is clearly CG, but it’s good enough that it doesn’t detract from the death or garner any laughs. You are still focused on the fact that this guy just had a zombie’s arm shoved through the back of his head. Certainly miles ahead of anything I might see on SyFy on a Saturday night (though I do genuinely love those made-for-SyFy joints).
These days, when video store shelves (figuratively! I know no one goes to the video store any more) are overflowing with dime-a-dozen, direct-to-video zombie rampages, you could do a hell of a lot worse than to support Stag Night of the Dead.