Originally released in 2012, Rise of the Zombies is another entry into the increasingly crowded genre of zombie apocalypse movies, which are also increasingly growing in popularity. This genre film originally made its debut on the Syfy Channel. Directed by Nick Lyon and bankrolled by The Asylum, Rise of the Zombies (originally the title was Dead Walking), the film dispenses with the usual introduction of zombies, instead starting out with the apocalypse in full gear.
The cause of the zombie menace this time out is a water-borne virus that has overwhelmed the population of San Francisco. The story begins with a husband and his pregnant wife attempting to secure refuge at nearby Alcatraz Island, but the husband is soon taken by the zombies. Meanwhile, a team of scientists and other refugees has taken over the island, with the scientists attempting to find a countermeasure for the virus.
But Alcatraz is not as secure as it once was, and soon Dr. Lynn Snyder (Mariel Hemingway) and other survivors must abandon the stronghold. They elect to make their way into the city, where one Dr. Arnold (French Steward) seems to have found a possible antidote. The group sets out to use a lifeboat, but before plans can solidify, zombies emerge from the water and begin to overwhelm the living.
In the resultant melee, Dr. Dan Halpern (LeVar Burton) elects to stay behind and continue to work on his version of a cure, which he hopes will revert the infection that has zombified his daughter. Helping Dr. Snyder with her escape is the untrustworthy Caspian (Danny Trejo) and Kyle (Chad Lindberg).
The survivors manage to make their way to the mainland and head into the city, where the zombies prove to be a stalwart menace. Caspian and others feel that it would be better to seek out supplies and head toward an evacuation area, so this group splits from that of Dr. Snyder. Sadly, Caspian and his group do not fare well, succumbing to the zombies inside a mansion.
As Dr. Snyder and her group make it closer to their goal, they watch in horror from afar as an explosion rocks Alcatraz. It turns out that Dr. Halpern, in his zest to help his daughter, is instead bitten by her, thus ending his work on finding in a cure. Fearing his own demise, Haplern detonates a grenade, taking him and his daughter out.
The film’s final reel has Dr. Snyder making contact with Dr. Arnold, who has indeed found a cure. However, the zombies are closing in with greater numbers. The only way to escape is by helicopter, and even at the helipad the zombies are closing in. The last of the survivors, armed with the cure and Dr. Arnold, make one last desperate attempt to escape the zombies.
An entertaining made-for-television movie, Rise of the Zombies is a pretty good zombie flick, one with all the necessary ingredients for a night of popcorn-chomping, beer-drinking fun. The acting is good, the writing a bit off but okay, and the direction deft and packed with plenty of action but a little too much melodrama. There’s light blood and gore (but there is a scene where the pregnant woman gives birth via cesarean to a zombie infant), but director Nick Lyon keeps things tense enough to keep horror hounds entertained.
The principal problem with Rise of the Zombies consists of the contrived situations the characters fall into when fighting the zombies. Character choice is often stupid and impulsive, and it is during those moments that viewers may find themselves pulling out of the film. Horror films require intelligent characters who do the right thing—making good decisions that still turn out bad in the end is the source of much tension and horror.
Rise of the Zombies comes in a standalone package or as a Zombie Attack 3-Pack. I watched the movie off the 3-Pack, which I picked up at Walmart.