Look at this poster – holy crap it looks awesome! Unfortunately Dead Moon Rising fails to live up to its ambitious advertisement.
Dead Moon Rising is the story of a couple car rental clerks in Louisville, Kentucky, who happen to have the zombie apocalypse come right through their front door (literally). As chaos ensues, they start wandering the streets (for no apparent reason) and pick up a few other survivors along the way. Luckily Jim, the main character, has a brother who conveniently owns a gun shop so everyone heads over there. Finally the group settles on taking and holding a building to escape the undead. They even go through the trouble of creating a moat around the building. Once inside, they find a custom motorcycle shop and for no good reason they decide to take the motorcycles out for a ride into the sunset (it is never explained how they get the bikes across the moat). At the first stoplight, a huge hoard of zombies spill out onto the street, and for a moment things look grim. But as the crew turns around they find an equally large group of bikers who join in a gargantuan battle, ending the movie.
Dead Moon Rising is really only notable for the fact it contains the self-proclaimed world’s largest zombie scene (which would be the motorcycle scene at the end), which was clearly filmed in conjunction with a zombie walk type event. They’re actually in the process of filming Dead Moon Rising 2 and will have another zombie gathering this Halloween for that movie, so if you’re interested in that sort of thing you can go be an extra. The problem with the scene is that it’s absolutely terrible. I’ve been to many zombie walks and typically you get a mix of convincing zombies, really poorly done zombies, people who aren’t taking things seriously, zombies with poor acting skills, etc. Oh yeah, and about half the people who show up for these things wear a white t-shirt presumably because it’s cheap and you can splatter blood on it and it looks gory. This theory breaks down when every other zombie you see is wearing a plain white t-shirt. Anyway, my point in this is that using a zombie walk as part of a scene is a bad idea, because instead of the director’s vision you get 500 other people’s visions.
The direction was terrible. The backstory of some of the characters is told by Jim, who will break role and talk directly into the camera. It’s a technique that’s been done before but writer/director Mark E. Poole is not able to pull it off, and it doesn’t help that the characters were so shallow I had no desire to hear their history. With these independent features I often wonder if bad writing causes some of the bad acting, but here I could tell that both writing and acting was bad. Fortunately for a low-budget film the sound quality was generally good.
The special effects were decent. Squibs were used throughout the film for nice bullet wound effects. There is a little CGI here and there but thankfully they knew the limitations of it and used it in small doses. The makeup was all over the place – I have a feeling for the most part the directors just asked people to come dressed like a zombie.
I don’t know if Dead Moon Rising was meant to be a horror movie, but it falls far from it and is more of an action flick than anything else. Mostly though the plot is what killed this movie. I just didn’t care about the characters and what they were doing. Much of it seemed like aimless wandering from point A to point B. That’s not to say it’s unwatchable – it’s a decent attempt and I’ve certainly seen far worse. It seems to be stuck in that no-mans-land between “so bad it’s good” and mediocrity.