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Zombie Honeymoon - DVD-R Screener
Directed by David Gebroe
Zombie Honeymoon Official Site
Review By: Matthew Dean Hill
Recommended DVD Source: Amazon.com

Sometimes, I get really excited about a new release, whether it's a "studio" project or a hot indie property. More often than not, the hype surrounding any given release ends up being not only completely unjustified, but also completely dishonest. Fancy my total surprise when a screener for an oddly-named little film called Zombie Honeymoon ended up on my doorstep. I had heard of the film, to be sure, but had been privy to precious few details about it. For all I knew, based on the title alone I must admit, this flick was going to be yet another cheesy, micro-budget Troma-wannabe splatterfest with ripe acting and even more heinous dialogue, direction, and effects work. I mean, just look at that snicker-inducing title...Zombie Honeymoon ...it just sounds like a train-wreck, doesn't it? So, long story short, to say that I was not only pleasantly surprised, but totally blown away by Zombie Honeymoon on nearly every level would be a Herculean achievement in understatement. I am so smitten with this film, and so impressed by its director Dave Gebroe, that I just had to share it with you. I want to marry Zombie Honeymoon and have like a million of its babies. If I weren't already married. And if I were a girl. You get the picture...

The synopsis...
Danny (Graham Sibley) and Denise (Tracy Coogan) are a hip, attractive young newlywed couple, who bolt out the doors of their wedding, into their car, and after some spontaneous, spirited and highly humorous oral copulation (!) they ride off to the Jersey Shore for their honeymoon. After checking out their digs (a gorgeous house being lent to them by Denise's uncle, I think), they hit the beach for some surfing and relaxation. After a brief, romantic interlude that evokes From Here to Eternity, they kick back on the beach and fall asleep in the sun. Suddenly, a mysterious and rotting (!) man shambles out of the water toward the dazed couple, attacks Danny, and before anything can be done to stop him, pukes black bile into Danny's mouth. Danny is rushed to the hospital, where he is pronounced dead, much to his blushing bride's misery (of course). Within moments, however, Danny sits up looks around, apparently none-the-worse for his experiences. Not one to question the fickleness of fate, the couple cautiously shrug off the experience, and since Danny seems fit as a fiddle, they leave the hospital and resume their post-nuptual bliss. Soon, though, it becomes clear that Danny isn't quite as healthy as they had thought...in fact, he's a frickin' zombie (natch')! And, he's got an insatiable appetite for human flesh (despite the fact that he's a vegetarian)(!). The couple try to cope with Danny's rapidly declining mental state, as well as his rapidly decaying body, and his ever-growing bloodlust. All too soon, it's evident that Tracy must decide if she will stand by her man, despite the fact that it's becoming more and more difficult for him to resist the urge to eat her, or if she will kill him, leave him, or otherwise end their new marriage. When all is said and done, Denise and Danny truly discover new meanings of commitment and trust, as Danny becomes a killing and eating machine.

Yes, I know how trite that sounds on paper, and no, it can't be helped. On the surface, it's hard to explain this film to someone without invoking snide remarks and comparisons to your typical trashy exploitation fare. But ya know what? Go fuck yourselves. Zombie Honeymoon is so much more complex and heartfelt than you would ever guess possible from a film like this. Dave Gebroe has done an absolutely remarkable thing here; he's taken a preposterous concept (inspired very loosely, I might add, by the tragic death of his sister's husband on their honeymoon), and breathed new life into a tired subgenre, while creating something wholly original and interesting. This truly is, as the hype suggests, the first truly romantic flesh eating corpse movie, and I defy anyone to find valid fault in its direction, its story arc, or its performances. And what performances they are! Coogan and Sibley are absolutely pitch-perfect...without a doubt one of the most realistic and touching portrayals of a young married couple I've seen in cinema. Coogan, in particular, is not only stunningly gorgeous and generally cute as a button, but her "Denise" is the model of a young woman who, we feel, is more than capable of not only holding up her end of the marriage, but who will also maintain her sense of individuality and purpose. Likewise, Sibley's "Danny" is suitably handsome (evoking 80's pop idol Morissey more than a little), and his character is a great compliment to Denise, who is, let's face it, the real main character of the story. Denise's struggle to cope with change in the face of extreme adversity is the core of the film, and everyone pulls it off with, if you'll excuse the hackneyed phrase, masterful aplomb. So effective and compatible were Coogan and Sibley on the set of Zombie Honeymoon, as I understand it, that they fell in love in real life and are a couple to this day! Pretty cool, huh? One thing that seems to happen in films like this is that the supporting characters end up being more interesting than the leads, thus diminishing the effectiveness of the lead performances. Not so here; the supporting cast are capable and effective, but never overshadow the strength or focus of Sibley and Coogan. As a footnote, Sibley and Coogan are great "finds", and are damned-fine actors...I expect great things from them in the future.

I know I've talked a lot about such things as "romance", "commitment", and true love, and those are truly the most important aspects of Zombie Honeymoon, but let's not forget that it is a horror movie. Furthermore, it's a zombie movie. Thus, it has built-in expectations on the sheer "horror" and "gore" front. The movie does not disappoint, as it contains copious blood and guts, and some truly tense and horrifying moments. Of particular note is a sequence that finds Denise locked in the bedroom, quietly awaiting her perceived fate, while the sounds of Danny's...ahem...interesting dietary practices echo throughout the house. This scene is so intense and evocative, that it actually manages to make your pulse race and your gorge to rise...even though you don't see anything except Denise laying on the bed, crying and vainly attempting to cover her ears against the hideous sounds of...chewing and slurping. Suffice it to say that, every time you think that the film is going to take a turn for the melodramatic, it punctuates the moment with a visceral shock, and those shocks serve to move the story along, and to intensify our feelings for this tragic young couple.

Now, to the DVD...
Since this is a "screener" DVD, it's not necessarily representative of any finished package or presentation in terms of format, transfer, supplemental features, etc. As of this writing (September 21, 2005), Zombie Honeymoon has yet to see its theatrical release. However, I found the film to be bright and clear in all the right places, and the widescreen is used well. The sound design, the importance of which comes into play on several occasions in the film, is also fairly remarkable. Other than that, this is a bare-bones disc. I can't wait to see not only the theatrical release print of the film, but also a special edition DVD release with all the whistles and bells...something that Zombie Honeymoon deserves far more than most films that are given such treatment of late.

Dave Gebroe is a gifted writer, a confident, skilled director who clearly has a "way" with his actors, and with storytelling in general. Therefore, Zombie Honeymoon is a film that transcends all expectations, and even manages to live down a title that makes it sound like Toxie is going to come lumbering across the screen at any moment. It's the work of people who clearly had a passion for the material, and it gets not only my highest possible recommendation, but also the coveted "Atrocities Cinema Essential Award"! Find a showing in your town. Go see it. People like David Gebroe are the real future of our beloved genre. It's a modern horror classic, and it'll do for the zombie movie what Ginger Snaps did for the werewolf movie. I'm serious.


The Atrocities Cinema Scoreboard

Movie:
Five Skulls


DVD:
RATING NOT APPLICABLE TO THIS UNFINISHED SCREENER COPY


Overall:
Five Skulls



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