This is a fascinating movie that explores what its like to be normal (alive) one moment and then suddenly rejected by society the next (undead). The movie makes a slight change in zombie lore by giving the undead their conscience and souls, thus the dilemma of feeling like the same person, while everyone else treats you different. – Helen
Unlike other half-baked attempts at low-budget horror-making, Marc Fratto’s movie has a great plot, convincing performances, effective camerawork, and a well played-out storyline. In Fratto’s take on theNIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD zombie concept, the newly dead becomes zombies and crave human flesh, but the story is set in a world where living and dead co-exist, and marketing campaigns are geared toward the undead (“Look Alive” face creams, to cover up that dead skin look!). Zombies are just as cognizant and sentient as they were when alive – which affords many (perhaps too many) clear references to racism and prejudice as the story plays out.
Gina Ramsden is just wonderful as Angela, a young lady shot by her jealous and rage-intensive boyfriend (convincingly played with full-on gangsta attitude by Joshua Nelson), who thereafter confronts a zombie support group (funny!), a small army of alive-supremacists who want to kill off all the zombies (headed by Christina McNamee who chews up the scenery – just a bit too much, actually – with a rapacious vigor as their Commandant), and a group of religious evangelicals seeking to show the way, the truth, and the light of zombie-ism as the next step in human evolution (headed by the mesmerizing Mary Jo Verruto as hippy-dippy Mother Solstice, leader of the cult) – with all of them coming together in a final massive confrontation in an old multi-story house.
Ramsden makes the character – and therefore the story and her situation – perfectly real, and her response to her zombiehood, as she is shunned by co-workers, family, friends, and adjusts to this new ostracism, is sensitive and compelling. Kevin T. Collins is also excellent as a rebellious zombie who shrugs off the support group to embrace his “inner zombie” and join the cult.
The movie is fun, it’s compelling, and it’s very well done despite the obvious limitations of its budget. The make-up effects are convincing and effective, for the most part (especially James E. Smith as the former detective with the mutilated zombie face).
Fratto and his team have put together a first-rate film and taken the zombie movie into a fascinating new direction. Unfortunately,the DVD version cuts out about 14 minutes. While the film can use the trims and is still a bit overlong at 104 minutes (especially in its final third), the deletions eliminate some major plot points, creating some confusion in the climax, especially as regards the Commandant, who suddenly shows up, with short hair, shot, and in her underwear to confront the zombie cult.
ZA: ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS (2006, aka LAST RITES FOR THE DEAD). Written and directed by Marc Fratto. Cast: Gina Ramsden, Joshua Nelson, Christa McNamee, Gaetano Iacono, Kevin T. Collins.