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MOVIE REVIEWS



ALL SOULS DAY (2005)


All Souls Day
WHERE TO FIND
Rent it at Netflix!
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Reviewed By Dead Kev

If there was ever a premise that just screams 'zombies', it's that of Dia de los Muertos. That translates into Day of the Dead for you non-linguists out there. It's not a subtitle really, but more the second half in the unnecessarily long-titled movie All Souls Day: Dia del los Muertos. I think they should have just shortened it to Day of the Dead, it would have been so much catchier...

It's 1892 in the remote Mexican village Santa Bonita. So remote, in fact, that English is commonly spoken there. An Aztec temple has been unearthed and town bad guy Vargas Diaz, played by why-am-I-always-a-bad-guy Danny Trejo, executes his sinister plan to take all the treasures for himself. Fast forward to October 1952. While vacationing, the White family stumbles upon the village and decides to spend the night in a no-named hotel there. The father (Jeffrey Combs) takes charge and checks the family in himself, despite the fact that there seems to be nobody running the place...despite the last person to sign the register being 5 years ago...and despite momma White (Ellie Cornell) overseeing a woman cleaning up what looks to be blood on the floor. Stop right there. Hold up. I'm sorry, I draw the line on pools of blood on the floor. Even stains of blood are a big no-no. Just walk out, people! I'm sure there's a La Quinta Inn somewhere down the road.

Their complete disregard for common sense ends badly for the family, but not before young polio-stricken son Ricky (Noah Luke) gets an earful of gibberish from an old hag-lady, and daughter Lily White (yes, that's really her name) shows off her lilly white...assets. Of course that part wasn't shown on the Sci-Fi channel, where All Souls Day made its premiere. You'll have to buy the DVD to get a look at those goods.

The whole bit with the White family is mostly pointless, and only serves to create a shred of back story to David Keith's sheriff Blanco character who in now, in present day, serves as the lawman in Santa Bonita. Blanco you say? Isn't that Spanish for...

Yes, now it's 53 years later. College couple Alicia (smokin' Marisa Ramirez) and her fast-talking spaz of a boyfriend Joss (Travis Wester), who's got to be on speed, are traveling to Alicia's parents' house. They're delayed after swerving through a crowd of people, overturning a coffin with a naked, tongueless girl inside, and running into a feeble-looking fence, which is enough to put Joss' piece of junk car out of commission right near the very no-named hotel we've seen previously. In an obvious attempt to gather some zombie fodder, two of the couple's friends, Erica and Tyler, drive down from the OC to meet them.

It's an overly inflated setup for an essentially simple concept with characters who look hot, but never really develop into anything. Not only do they not develop into much, their actions often are neither plausible nor genuine. The Joss character rarely ceases to annoy. Erica out of nowhere does some kind of crazy backflip onto the roof. Tyler, with a chance to escape the hotel, inexplicably chooses not the undead-free driver's side of the getaway car, but the zombie laden passenger side. And upon being attacked he yells out like a girl, "Put me down!" Oh...the horror...make it stop. It's a shame, because while the characters aren't the greatest, they're all acted out rather decently. Though, David Keith and the re-animator Jeffrey Combs are completely underutilized talent.

The script does have a few nuggets that are unique. Zombie bites don't necessarily cause you to turn. The Vargas Diaz showdown at the end has a different spin than most flicks of this ilk. The flashbacks are interesting. In totality, though, it certainly doesn't redeem writer Mark A. Altman for his being attached to that heap, House of the Dead. And I really enjoyed director Jeremy Kasten's work on The Attic Expeditions, but here it's fairly underwhelming.

All Souls Day is the first from CFQ Films, the production arm of the long-running Cinefantastique Magazine. That being the case, it could have turned out a lot worse for them. Getting Almost Human to do the makeup FX was a great move. The zombies have a good look. Production values seemed pretty high and the village did its job. But the jagged storyline, forgetful characters, and sub par dialogue were ultimately the icebergs that sunk this ship. It just didn't resonate as serious horror. Perhaps if they played it a little more over-the-top, they could have taken a different, less serious direction and really had something.



FILM RATING

(Out of 5)
RELEASE DATES
June 11, 2005 (TV)
January 17, 2006 (DVD)
WEBSITE
www.allsoulsday-themovie.com


DEAD KEV'S ADVICE
Couldn't hurt to rent it, it may appeal to some.
LESSONS LEARNED
1. Never trust a mayor who's made a pact with the devil.
2. On rare occasion, letting the zombies in can be a good thing.
FAVORITE QUOTES
-"What? What's that? Cat got your tongue? Nope, I got it."
-"They better not damage my car, I don't even have plates yet."
AROUND THE WEB
Jeremy Kasten Interview - Creature Corner

DIRECTOR
Jeremy Kasten (The Attic Expeditions)
WRITER
Mark A. Altman (House of the Dead)
CAST CHARACTER
Jeffrey Combs Thomas White
Danny Trejo Vargas Diaz
David Keith Sheriff Blanco
Marisa Ramirez Alicia Barena
Travis Wester Joss Gilbert
Laura Harring Martia
Laz Alonso Tyler
Nichole Hiltz Erica
Julia Vera Oleta
Ellie Cornell Sarah White
Mircea Monroe Lily White
Noah Luke Ricky White
Danielle Burgio Esmerelda
PRODUCTION COMPANY
CFQ Films
STUDIO
Anchor Bay Entertainment, IDT Entertainment
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
United States
RUNNING TIME MPAA RATING
90 mins Unrated


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