Last Rights of the Dead
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Zombie movies seem to have two different means of differentiation. There are the slow-moving zombie fans, who are always up in arms about the fast-moving zombie movies, but you could also categorize them by either pure action movies, living versus undead; or movies that use the zombie as a social commentary.
“Last Rights of the Dead” is most certainly a zombie movie, but the story rises miles above a simple monster flick. The undead have become part of our culture, and not a very popular one.
Through snippets of news shows at the onset of the story, we learn that something is causing the recently dead to not stay that way. Maybe this was taking place when the Grim Reaper was laid up on Peter Griffon’s couch and no one was dying. Maybe not. At any rate, we’re faced with a new class of person, the “mortally challenged”. They can still function like the living, they just can’t heal, and have the complexion of a 30 year old gamer living in his mom’s basement. Oh, and a hunger for blood, let’s not forget that little tidbit.
Enter Josh and Angela (exceptionally portrayed by Joshua Nelson and Gina Ramsden) – a couple with issues. They’re in the midst of a lover’s spat when the viewer enters, typical argument – Angela’s in the bathtub crying, and Josh is screaming at the locked bathroom door with a pistol in his hand. Nothing you haven’t seen on “Cops” a million times. Josh wins this particular discussion by shooting Angela a couple of times and running away. It’s tough to debate against bullets.
But wait, we’re in a world where no one really dies, remember? Now Angela has a psycho boyfriend on the loose, AND she’s joined the legions of the undead. Pisser of a way to start your day, huh ladies?
The story shows us many different facets of this weird new world, but it’s really a story about Angela. She faces prejudice at work, joins a zombie support group, tries to blend in with the living, and eventually runs into a cult-like group of zombies run by Solstice (Mary Jo Verruto)…who view themselves as above humans, especially on the food chain. They want nothing more than thinning our population down to manageable number for a food source. Oddly enough, their point of view makes a lot of sense, since when you think about it, wasn’t Jesus the first zombie?
While Angela is coping with her new zombie issues, Josh has hooked up with sort of a zombie version of the skinheads – a group of feisty go-getters that are ridding themselves of the zombie menace in a bloody and violent fashion. They’re led by The Commandant (Christa McNamee) – a woman who takes her work very seriously, but also appears to be a bit unbalanced.
Zombies and humans clash, Angela takes her abusive relationship head-on, and blood flows freely!
I really like how the film touched on so many social issues while telling one woman’s story. In one scene, Josh puts a huge “No Zombies” sign in the front window of his diner – which looked eerily like storefronts in Alabama in the 50s. Instead of zombieitis (?) – Angela could have been infected with AIDS, and her story would not have been that different.
Don’t let all this social commentary stuff scare you off though, there’s still plenty of action and violence to be had. Gore hounds will be satisfied, that’s for sure! “Last Rights” can be enjoyed on many levels, from beer and movie night with the guys, to a week-long discussion in a Women’s Studies class. It’s that good.
My only beef is a minor one – a couple of scenes were a little too long – and oddly enough, they were the violent action sequences. And if that’s my biggest gripe, that’s damned good.
This is hands down the best zombie movie I’ve seen all year, and possibly the best overall movie. The appeal of this film goes beyond simply horror fans, and unless you’re a candy-ass that can’t stand the sight of fake blood, I urge you to track down a copy. This is an easy purchase to recommend, and will certainly enjoy watching it again. 4 ½ cans out of 5.
Added: Thursday, September 14, 2006
Related Link: Insane-O-Rama's Official Link
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