Film Review: Zombie Nightmare
Zombie Nightmare is a Canadian horror film released back in 1986. Directed by Jack Bravman, the film stars beloved Batman actor Adam West and is also the film debut of Tia Carrere; who most music lovers of my generation (and beyond) will recognize as Cassandra Wong from the flicks Wayne’s World and Wayne’s World 2. We also have a swell performance from Jon Mikl Thor, who not only acts in this gem but contributes to its soundtrack with his band Thor (more on that later).
This movie has it all: baseball, a 80’s suit and tie guy dance party, hit and run with vehicular manslaughter, lack of calling the police after crimes are committed, someone who looks an awful lot like Sindel from Mortal Kombat bringing the dead to life, an 80’s synth smothered score played over an indoor tennis match that leads to a make-out session, an impalement with an aluminum baseball bat, TV’s Adam West kicking someone square in the head, and so much more!
You also have great dialog such as:
Peter: “Are You Coming?”
Suzie: “Not quite but the day is young.”
What about the music though? This film has a great soundtrack! It opens with Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades,” and any movie that opens with a Motorhead song is already a step above the rest of the movies that don’t. The soundtrack includes “C’mon, “Let’s Go” from Girlschool – I love that song - and contributions from Fist, Death Mask, The Things, Knighthawk, and more. We also get, as I mentioned earlier, Thor. The group had a backup singer named Pantera and she also has a song on the soundtrack – Not to be confused with the then glam metal band Pantera who went on to drop the glam, load up on coke, and become the legendary Pantera we all know today (they aren’t on the soundtrack). Anyway, almost the entire musical score of the film is also by Thor but done under the moniker of Thorkestra. (Clever fella that Thor).
As far as 80’s cheesy movies go, this one is really cheesy but has a charm about it. It’s funny, loaded with bad acting, and of course, there’s a zombie. Yes, it’s hard to follow what day, or what time of day it is, as the scenes change from day to night, from day to evening, from dawn to dusk, and every other combo in the book.
The continuity is a bit all over the place. Like when Detective Sorrell (played by Frank Dietz) sits down in his home with a sandwich and a glass of milk, places it on the table in front of him, and gets right into his police work when suddenly his meal is gone and the table is twice as tall as it was initially. Or how Zombie Tony (played by Thor) has shorter and shorter hair as the film progresses, which I assume is meant to be because he’s undead and his rotting flesh and hair is falling out. Now, hair falling out I can see, but an actual haircut or two? No!
Another small moment that gained my respect as a B movie/Horror fan are scenes like Old Joe (AKA Janitor Joe and played by Charles Biddie) sitting and reading a copy of Fangoria Magazine with Maximum Overdrive on the cover (issue #56 from August of 1986 for you diehard Fangoria fans).
The final topic I wanted to cover is the guy who plays Jimbo; Mr. Shawn Levy! His role in this film is super fun. He is a wannabe badass who gets off on the thrill of how easy it is to take the life of another. He’s had dozens of small bit parts in television and movies over the years: 21 Jump Street, Thirtysomething, Beverly Hills 90210, Stranger Things, Cheaper by the Dozen, Night at The Museum 2, etc. Acting aside, he’s the director of multiple episodes of Stranger Things, the new Ryan Reynolds flick Free Guy, the Night at the Museum movies, Just Married, and many more! And is also producer on projects such as I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause, What Happens in Vegas, The Rocker, Why Him, and is executive producer on the new Netflix hit I Am Not Okay With This (which is brilliant, if you haven’t seen it). Shawn Levy has certainly gone on to do amazing things since his role of Jim Batten in Zombie Nightmare.
The film is a wonderful, low budget, Canadian, almost masterpiece with a great soundtrack. What more could you want? Check out Zombie Nightmare today on Amazon Prime. (film review by: Dave Hyde)