Syfy’s Zombie Night (below) par for the course
Posted: October 24, 2013 at 3:09 a.m.
There are no flies on Syfy.
That’s sort of disturbingly graphic when you’re talking about zombies, but I mean to use the idiom in the classically metaphorical way.
In other words, Syfy isn’t just sitting around while the rest of the world is going zombie crazy. Syfy has an original undead movie of its own.
No, it’s not Zom-nado. No zombies fall from the sky and devour Los Angeles. Or Dinozombie or Ghost Zombie. As Syfy movie titles go, this one’s fairly straightforward.
It’s Zombie Night, airing at 8 p.m. Saturday. Barricade the doors and watch it with someone you love.
Zombie Night stars Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill) and Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club) as Birdie and Patrick Jackson, parents of teenager Tracie (Rachel G. Fox). Shirley Jones plays poor ol’ addle-brained Nana, Birdie’s mom.
(It’s great to see Mom Partridge getting work at age 79.)
I have slogged through the entire film (taking notes) and zombie film fans should know that it’s OK if you want to pass on this one. The Walking Dead has spoiled us. Zombie Night isn’t campy enough to approach Juan of the Dead or funny enough to remind us of Zombieland.
If I had to rank Zombie Night in the genre hierarchy, I’d put it somewhere between 1989’s Redneck Zombies and 2008’s Zombie Strippers. It is what it is - a chance to yell at the screen at characters who seem way too slow on the uptake to realize what danger they’re in, and way too timid in fighting back.
The film opens in medias res. The undead are already slumping around and rising from graves. It’s an unexplained, worldwide epidemic that has caught everyone off guard.
Patrick and his daughter are stuck in traffic and just trying to get home. It hasn’t dawned on most people that all those lurching folks are dead and will eat them. It takes a painfully long time for our heroes to get organized to try to make it to the neighbors’ safe room.
The cowardly neighbor is played by a scenery-chewing Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Spin City).
The film then devolves into a predictable series of scenes where Patrick, Birdie and Tracie believe they’re safe, only to have the horde break down the door, stumble after them in the tunnel or corner them in the mausoleum.
Word comes “from Europe” that zombie activity seems to cease once the sun comes up, so they only have to survive until morning to be safe. Not all do. There are enough “red shirts” in this film to keep the special effects guys quite busy.
If you enjoy graphic, sanguinary, gut-chewing swarms, this film has them in spades. I counted, and there are 102 “zombies” named in the credits.
For the record, Zombie Night was directed by John Gulager, the same guy who directed such cult favorites as Feast and Piranha 3DD (pronounced double D, “No body is safe”).
Aside: Baby boomers, John is the son of the Western hero of our youth, Clu Gulager (The Virginian). For zombie fans, Clu played Burt in 1985’s The Return of the Living Dead. “Brains!” Clu’s 84 these days.
Mark your calendars. Syfy has more Halloween-themed stuff on the way.
It’s Reign-ing. I neglected to remind you last week about The CW’s new costume drama Reign. The second episode arrives at 8 p.m. today. You’ll catch up.
The series stars 23-yearold Australian Adelaide Kane as the teenage Mary, Queen of Scots.
Expect the network to play it fast and loose with history. But, hey, it’s The CW, where the whole point is pretty, pretty young people and teen angst. Reign has plenty of that.
There’s lust, scheming, romance, beheadings, intrigue and, well, the usual stuff. Parents might want to preview this one before letting their ’tweens watch.
Conway represented. Conway resident Jordan Crowson, 32, will be one of 12 designers on Bravo’s Styled to Rock. The fashion competition, produced by Grammy-winner Rihanna (billed as Robyn Rihanna Fenty), debuts at 7 p.m. Friday.
Crowson’s biography says he believes his couture designs could stand up to any of the designs at New York Fashion Week. Crowson has a bachelor’s degree in apparel studies from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and credits his traditional Christian family for keeping him grounded.
The series will challenge the contestants to create fashions for celebrities such as Kid Cudi, Miley Cyrus, Carly Rae Jepsen, Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Minogue, Kelly Osbourne, The Band Perry, Naya Rivera, Big Sean, Nervo and Ne-Yo.
From what I’ve seen, the show is simply a twist on the familiar Project Runway format.
Program note. The Good Witch’s Destiny airs at 8 p.m. Saturday on Hallmark Channel. Starring Catherine Bell as good witch Cassie Nightingale, it’s the sixth installment of Hallmark Channel’s highest-rated and longest-running original movie series.
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Weekend, Pages 34 on 10/24/2013