HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Zombie High
HTS Overall Score:62
You had me at the word zombies. Well, maybe you had me at Virginia Madsen, Paul Feig (before he became a director) and Sherilyn Fenn), but who’s counting. The awesome 80s actors mixed with the anticipation of scads of zombies and tons of blood was enough to get this little horror nerd happily sitting in front of his chair with a bag of microwave popcorn. I had never actually SEEN “Zombie High” before, even though I’m a rabid 80s horror fan, but I figured there is not time better than the present to remedy that type of hole in my cinematic repertoire. Color me a bit confused when I come to realize that the term “zombies” is more of a figurative take on mind control rather than the tasty flesh eating kind. With that in mind plus the lack of buzz this title received back in the day it’s not hard to see why it slipped under the radar. “Zombie High” takes a decent concept but combines it with weak writing and some poor editing and directing, tanking the movie into forgotten history.
As I said, we’re talking about figurative zombies here, instead of brain eaters. Meet Ettinger High, a prestigious high school that caters to the elite in society, but also carries with it a deadly secret. Andrea (Virginia Madsen) has just been given a full ride scholarship to the prestigious school and is excited to be one of the first few female members. Upon arriving there she tries her best to fit in, but notices some strange changes in the people around her. The class trouble maker shifts from being a brash hooligan to calm and calculating overnight, pleased as punch to be there, while other students and faculty members seem abrasively “off”. Andrea can’t place it, but her romance with professor Philo (Richard Cox) soon sheds some light on the situation. It seems that there is a lot more going on at Ettinger High than meets the eye.
When her sweetheart, Barry (James Wilder) comes to the School to get her out, everything ignites in a blaze of glory. It seems that the staff at Ettinger are a little different than what they appeared, and Andrea soon learns that Philo and head master Eisner are orchestrating a bit of a subterfuge at the university, putting everyone in danger. Determined to get out and be free of the chains that have been put on her, Andrea and Barry have to wage war against the ancient evil that lies within Ettinger’s walls and hopefully come out unscathed.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=61305[/img]“Zombie High” is a bit of a strange film. It looks and sounds like it’s going to be a zombie film, but instead rally turns out to be one giant tease. That’s not JUST in relation to the zombies themselves. The first half of the movie has literally NOTHING going on but Andrea, Barry and her friends stumbling around confused at why everyone is acting strange. NOTHING happens that is horrifying, or really interesting at all. The movie acts like it wants to be funny and quirky, but every time they swing the bat misses the ball. Lines that are MEANT to be funny just aren’t, and the score makes the film sound like it wants to be a macabre “Breakfast Club” or “Pretty in Pink”.
Virginia Madsen is poorly miscast for the role of a high school girl and even Paul Feig can’t really make this one worthwhile. He’s great as the goofball relief, but much of the time is spent with an overly dramatic and sappy love story between Andrea and Philo. Once the action (so to speak) picks up theres a little more tension, but in reality there’s nothing scary or horrifying about “Zombie High” at all. The gags are minimal, the horror is nonexistent and the editing is BEYOND bad. Quick fades and cuts that a 1st year film student would baulk at abound on screen and you can just feel the cheese oozing from every pore. I usually LOVE cheesy horror flicks, but when they manage to not be scary, gory, or even remotely interesting the cheese just comes off as pathetic and plain bad.
rated R for physical violence, gore, and profanity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=61313[/img]The 1.85:1 framed Blu-ray looks like it comes from an entirely new master, as the older digital streaming versions I checked out for comparison look a lot darker and color timed differently. Detail is strong, as there is a nice layer of grain over the entire image and most of the ticks and lines have been erased at some point. There is some mild speckling and some dirt on the print there and there, but it mostly looks like a very clean and precise image considering the old 80s film stock. Colors are lavishly saturated and contrast is boosted to give an extremely warm and bright image. Oranges and blues come through the most, but there is a smattering of other primaries to add color to the image. Blacks are solid, although they sometimes crush and I noticed a few scenes where there was excessive noise. Overall al very nice looking transfer for a forgotten film.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=61321[/img]The DTS-HD MA mono track is satisfactory and does the job, but with some flaws in the recording as well as some degradation of the source as well. Dialog is middling, as it tends to be crisp and clear one moment, then fade into the background the next. There are entire sections of the film where you can hear it raise and lower the vocal volume level within the same scene. The front soundstage is bombastic and rather engaging, with a good 80s score that feels oddly out of place in a horror movie. LFE is light, but active enough, giving some weight to the score and more tense moments of the film. There seems to be a blanket over the clarity of the audio though, as the mids seem muddled and the highs just a bit boxy. It’s not a bad track, but one that is a bit dated and feels like was mixed very very inexpensively.
• Theatrical Trailer
“Zombie High” manages to be a lukewarm zombie horror/thriller that takes a nontraditional take on what it means to be a zombie. Filled with clichés and 80s romantic tropes (in a horror/thriller at that) and just plain bad directing and editing, “Zombie High” is something to watch once and put behind you. I’ve seen worse films and worse directing, but its worse when you have such a talented cast at hand along with the ever appealing zombie culture at your disposal. Audio is ok, and video look rather nice, but combined with the lack of extras and poor storytelling, I’d give “Zombie High” a pass.
Starring: Virginia Madsen, Paul Feig, Sherilyn Fenn
Directed by: Ron Link
Written by: Tim Doyle, Aziz Ghazal
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA Mono
Studio: SCREAM! Factory
Runtime: 93 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 15th 2015
Buy Zombie High On Blu-ray at Amazon
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