J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Anger of the Dead: the Zombie Apocalypse at its Ugliest

For some reason, in horror movies, medical researchers who have devoted years to academic study and public service turn into Jigsaw from the Saw franchise as soon as the zombie apocalypse hits. Evidently, it is true of Italian co-productions as well. At least these undead cannibals come with European tax shelter benefits, judging from the notorious Uwe Boll’s producing role. Low expectations will still be disappointed by Francesco Picone’s Anger of the Dead (trailer here), which opens today in New York.

Alice just discovered she was preggers when the infection hit. Her husband and five year old daughter are now long gone, but her baby is clearly due soon. She has teamed up with the bickering Stephen and Peter, who have more-or-less agreed to check out reports of a ferry leaving for an island safe haven. Unfortunately, to get to the port, their paths will cross that of Rooker, the sadistic leader of the so-called “sanctuary.”

Within the former government institution, scientists repeatedly torture an unnamed woman for no constructive purpose. However, Rooker seems to think she is “The One,” whose apparent immunity can help him save his full blown zombified wife. Just how the regularly scheduled raping will help him do that makes sense only to Picone (and probably Boll).

This is just a damn ugly film, filled with completely unnecessary brutality, even by hardcore horror standards. Technically, Anger is considered a feature fixer-up of Picone’s somewhat superior short of the same title, but he inexplicably jettisons its most memorable character: the motorcycle-riding zombie killer.

Almost perversely, Aaron Stielstra gives the most the film’s best performance, but Rooker is so irredeemably vile, it is impossible to enjoy his villainy. Roberta Sparta and Désirée Giorgetti are serviceable enough as Alice and “The One,” but there is no way they can salvage this material. Frankly, Anger suspiciously parallels the narrative of Wyrmwood: the Road of the Dead, but it lacks the Australian film’s wit and invention. In terms of zombie satisfaction, fans will get more out of the mash-up, The Walking Deceased.

Based on Picone’s film, the Dead have a right to be ticked off. Granted, it is more polished and the causality of events are more logical than Boll’s own cinematic disasters, but that is a low bar to clear. Not recommended, not even for ravenous zombie fans, Anger of the Dead opens today (1/8) in New York at the Cinema Village.

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