One of the nice things about Synapse is they release DVDs for the kind of genre film festival favorites that would have a hard time getting seen on home video otherwise, giving them solid transfers and adding extras when possible. Reel Zombies is their latest entry in this vein, offering a nice presentation of a self-parodying zom-com from a group of Canadian filmmakers that earned some good press on the horror fest circuit.
The main feature is presented in an anamorphic transfer that does well by film that was shot on video in “fast and cheap” conditions. The image is clean and sharp, offering as much detail as the documentary-style cinematography will allow. A 2.0 stereo mix is offered and sounds smooth, offering clear dialogue throughout.
The first of the extras is a commentary track featuring writer/co-director Mike Masters, co-director David Francis and producer Stephen Papadimitriou, all of whom also star in the film as comedic versions of their real-life selves. It’s a fun, rollicking track that quickly reveals just how close the participants stuck to reality: for example, the auditions sequence incorporates a lot of real audition footage and the actress playing Masters’ ex-girlfriend in the film was really his ex-girlfriend.
They also reveal how arduous a task the editing was (the film was cut down from 88 hours of footage and the rough cut took eight months to do). Elsewhere, they discuss their relationships with the other actors in the film, most of whom they’ve worked with on other films, and offer plenty of scene-specific memories, including a number of incidental injuries that occurred during stunts. Fans of the film will also be happy to know that the real life Masters/Francis relationship is much like how it is depicted in the film.
The next extra is about 40 minutes’ worth of outtakes, ranging from brief snips to full scenes and even a few extended versions of scenes in the film. It’s easy to see why much of this material was cut for pacing reasons but it’s worth watching at least once for fans for a few gems sprinkled throughout the running time: highlights include Master’s slow-burn reaction to discovering zombie extras have been dressed in his collection of jerseys and a funny scene where one actor attempts to negotiate nude and sex scenes for himself in the film.
The last of the extras is a trailer: it moves fast and, in true exploitation film style, crams most of the exploitable stunt and gore elements into its short running time. All in all, Synapse has put together a tidy DVD edition of Reel Zombies that will hopefully help this festival fave get some more exposure to the horror audience.
To read Schlockmania’s film review for Reel Zombies, click here.