2 out of 5
Directed by: Jack Bravman
There’s enough meat on these here low-budget bones to sustain its viewing time, but only just barely. A lack of cult flair – it’s not so bad it’s good, just kind of un-good and fairly slow (though it doesn’t have some great line readings) – knock it below average as far as B-grade zombie fare goes. Zombie Nightmare is not completely without its charms, however.
Tony (Jon Mikl Thor) is the neighborhood good kid; Jim (Shawn Levy) and his crew are the neighborhood bad kids. One night, Tony is killed in a hit and run with a car driven by the bad kids, and Tony’s mother – as one does in these situations – goes to the local voodoo priestess (Manuska Rigaud) for an assist, naturally leading to some zombie revenge, the dead teenager results of which are investigated by cop Frank (Frank Dietz).
This is all fine and good, and moves along at a watchable clip with a fun performance – both human and inhuman – from Thor, and amusing over-acting from Levy and Rigaud. Frank’s boss being played by a taciturn, paycheck-earning Adam West helps. But director Jack Bravman – with writer John Fasano reportedly pinch-hitting for most of this – can’t push the material past that “watchable” hump. The deaths are pretty cheap, but we can’t even revel in them being cheap, as most of this is shot fairly competently, and they are rather repetitive besides this – a handful of neck-snapping and impalings. And while the general goofiness of the setup works, there is nothing more to the story – after the first death and investigation, you’ve seen all the movie’s moves.
That said, this completely underwhelming vibe also is an element of cultiness, but it’s definitely the type that requires an indirect approach. So watch it as an inbetween to better Fasano fare (Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare; Black Roses), and then revisit it later without any expectation.