A romantic zombie comedy - or rom-com-zom? Hmm, it's already been done, surely? Not quite like this, it hasn't...

On a night lit up only by the full moon in the cloudless sky, four zombies chase a woman through a deserted graveyard. They floor her on the grass and proceed to tear her apart. As they chow down on her intestines, forlorn Dante () picks up her disembodied head and begins to sing to it, confiding about how empty his undead life is. As he sings, "Having no-one to adore, immortality's a bore" - he wants to find love.

As coincidence would have it, Claudia appears at that moment. She's taking a lunar stroll in the graveyard, visiting the resting place of her deceased lover. She herself sings a little ditty about wishing her loved ones could not die.

From behind a tree, Dante observes her ... and falls in love. When Claudia is accosted by violent gravediggers, Dante is quick to leap to her defence. He fights the assailants off, but then flees when Claudia squeals at his visage. However, shortly after he's gone, Claudia realises that she too has fallen for him.

The following evening, Dante decides to give himself a makeover in a bid to win Claudia's heart. He steals a woman's bag and uses her make-up to hide his decayed flesh (as the song playing over this ROCKY-type montage says, "to win a girl's affection you must change your whole complexion").

In the meantime, Claudia busies herself tracking down the zombies' chapel hideout in a bid to locate Dante. She doesn't have to look far before she bumps into him. Only, of course, she doesn't recognise him beneath all his make-up.

But fate has brought the two together and they soon become smitten after a short conversation. Romance blossoms and they are quickly a happy item. But how long before the cracks appear - and what will Claudia do if she ever discovers the truth?

ZOMBIE LOVE is a curious 36-minute film that manages to combine catchy HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL-style songs, sweet romance and uncompromising gore with commendable dexterity. It shouldn't work, but it does.

A big factor in the film's success is the unassuming likeability of the two leads. No whining American teens or arrogant student types here: these are energetic and giving performances, breathing fresh life into two already amiable characters.

The photography is unexpectedly good too, with keen framing and some great use of colour in the atmospheric night scenes. When the film dips into Bollywood pastiche, the costume design and colourful camera shapes adapt accordingly. Take a box, Director of Photography Tatiana Krokar.

The songs (composed by Mark C Mendelson and Brian Barrale) work in the scheme of the light plot because they're good. Unlike recent genre musicals such as REPO! A GENETIC OPERA and SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, these tunes stick in the mind and leave their listener with a smile on their face. There are discernible melodies and hooks here. And it pays.

The gore FX keep the horror quotient at a strong level, offering some enjoyably splattery disembowelments and flesh-eating. Allan Holt's FX work is obviously conducted on a tight budget, but he works well with Krokar to achieve maximum impact. Even his zombies look great despite their cheap appearances - they have that authentic CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS-type 70s feel to them.

Ultimately, this is the brainchild and success of director/co-writer Yfte van Berkelaer. She concocted the film as part of her University thesis and is presently working on adapting a feature-length version. She's a talent, eliciting warm and genuine performances from her actors while keeping a keen eye on pace and dynamics. Her deftness between genres (horror, comedy, musical) is shrewd, marking her out as a name of considerable promise.

This disc can be ordered direct from the ZOMBIE LOVE website (address at the bottom of the review), and features a nice non-anamorphic presentation of the uncut film in it's original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Colours and blacks are strong, with solid detail and only minor grain on occasion.

The English audio is presented in 2.0. The songs come booming out of the speakers, while the dialogue in-between was a little too quiet in comparison.

A static main menu leads into a static scene-selection menu allowing access to the film via 7 chapters.

Extras on the disc include an enjoyable trailer, showcasing the film's gore, wit and songwriting skills to good effect. This is just under 2 minutes in length.

Three "teasers" follow. The first is "Teaser Rap", an abridged version of a rap from the film. This lasts a measly 20 seconds. "Teaser Chillin" is 58 seconds of barely contained laughter during another tune". "Teaser Rap Ted" is 66 more seconds, this time allowing a little bit of giggling to come through. All are presented in non-anamorphic 1.66:1.

As are seven minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes, which provide more giggling along with some excised footage of little significance.

"What We Did On Set" is an umbrella heading for three featurettes: "Talk Trash" offers 4 minutes of people bitching behind each other's backs on set; "Get Bored" is 5 minutes of goofing around on location; "Shoot A Scene" is the best extra proffered - an 18-minute look behind the scenes of shooting a few scenes.

The above three featurettes are each presented in full-frame.

Unpretentious and infectiously entertaining, ZOMBIE LOVE delivers on all three counts of being a rom-com-zom. It's got the gore, the funnies, and is surprisingly warm as a love story. It's also blessed with clever, brisk direction and a clutch of genuinely good songs.

Don't be put off! This is well worth a closer look, at www.zombielovethemovie.com.

Review by Stuart Willis

Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review