I don’t know if writer-director Neil Jones knew what effect giving his low-budget zombie comedy this title would have but I hope he was smiling as he came up with it because it sure made me smile. I first heard of the title a couple of months ago and it was enough to win me over. The tagline – “When there’s no more room in Hell . . . . . . . you get married” – was another stroke of brilliance.
So, it’s the big stag do and Dean (Sebastian Street) is dragged along by his mates to the big surprise of the day – a game of Zomball. Basically, Dean and co. are given electrically charged weapons and allowed to knock down loads of zombies to their hearts content until they need to recharge their weapons. Unfortunately, recharging the weapons usually takes longer than it does for the zombies to get themselves back on their undead feet.
There are three rules of Zomball and the third one is to never, ever humiliate a zombie so you know that trouble’s about to erupt when that one is broken. Will Dean escape a fate worse than death? Or will he actually survive the Zomball action and end up getting married?? Either option is a scary one.
With the motley crew of lads on show (Dean, his slimy mate Mark, Ronny, etc as well as the standard stripper who really just wants to make some cash and isn’t the easy gal that everyone assumes she is) and the simplistic unfolding of the storyline there’s nothing here to tax the brain, making it the perfect movie to accompany a full-on “popcorn and a pint” viewing.
The acting is all okay. Street is very good as Dean, Sophie Anderson is very likeable as Candy, Bruce Lawrence is suitably slimy as the sleazy best man and Doug Grant is amusing enough as Gordon. Rez Kempton is okay as Sanjay, James G. Fain is okay as T.C. and everyone else is, well, okay with the exception of Joe Rainbow playing Ronny. It’s hard to know whether it’s the acting making the character worse or just that the character is so annoying that nobody could be entertaining in the role but Rainbow certainly doesn’t help whenever he’s onscreen.
The direction is decent enough, with a lot of the action and/or gore moments a little over-edited to compensate for other shortcomings. There are one or two absolutely fantastic effects moments (fleeting but there) that show just what Jones was saving his money for.
The script is pretty good. A lot of the humour may be bawdy and geared towards blokes but the movie doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s admirable that, despite the obvious subgenre comparisons, the movie hasn’t been ridiculously overhyped by anyone involved with it as “the next Shaun Of The Dead” because it simply isn’t even though there’s a fun little nod to that movie in at least one moment of dialogue. With references thrown in there to the likes of The Shining, Reservoir Dogs, Apocalypse Now, The Great Escape and even The A-Team you can almost smell the testosterone at times. Heck Mr Jones, was that even a nod to the fantastic Big Trouble In Little China I noticed at the end there or am I simply reading far too much into things?
Stag Night Of The Dead sets out its stall quite clearly and feels wonderfully fresh and deserving of success thanks to its lack of pretension, its enthusiasm to entertain and its way of recognising a rich and varied movie history while making its very own mark in the 21st century. I may be overlooking a number of failings thanks to being carried past them with exuberance and a drunken grin but I don’t care.
For those who are interested the movie is released worldwide right here and the DVD will come later. I wish all involved a whole lot of success and hope that if even one Flickfeast reader visits and views the movie then I will have done my bit to promote a movie that deserves to at least do better than the hundreds of other lazy releases that end up on the shelves of video stores every year.
DIRECTOR: NEIL JONES
CAST: SEBASTIAN STREET, SOPHIE ANDERSON, JOE RAINBOW, BRUCE LAWRENCE
RUNTIME: 81 MINS APPROX