Last week I tackled Korea’s zombie blockbuster Train to Busan (2016). In my review, I mentioned that the zombie sub-genre has been done to death, because it really has. Zombies seem to be everywhere right now. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just an over-saturation of the undead in my opinion. But Train to Busan showed me that even while the zombie culture is still alive and well, it can also still tell a pretty damn good tale and rip your throat out while doing it.
Well boils and ghouls, that very same afternoon my article was published, the horror community received some devastating news. George A. Romero, the father of the modern zombie had ended his battle with lung cancer at the age of 77. While I never met the man himself, I cannot express in words the impact he had on my youth as a horror fan and so many countless others. Night of the Living Dead (1968) was the first horror film I bought on VHS and I have it somewhere even still today. That film created a horror movie monster in me, that is still roaring today.
So, as a way to honor the horror icon I couldn’t think of a better type of horror flick to review. A zombie film. A few weeks back I was given the honor of screening the film prior to its theatrical release. Not knowing much about it other than the fantastic trailer, I prepared my customary ritual of popping popcorn, cracking open an adult beverage and dimming the lights. Let’s take a look at 2017’s It Stains the Sands Red.
Molly played by Brittany Allen (Extraterrestrial, Jigsaw) and her boyfriend Nick (Merwin Mondesir, Grave Encounters) are racing in the desert to the airport outside of Las Vegas, with the zombie apocalypse following closely behind. After their car gets stuck on the side of the road, the couple become stranded. Armed with only a pistol and finite ammo, the two come across a lone zombie. Can they make it to the airport in time? Will they survive the imposing heat and starvation, while outrunning the walking dead?
This film, while not an original concept, was original in its execution which was surprisingly fresh and unique. A true cat and mouse game (zombie edition) brought to bloody life! It shows a woman’s personal evolution and her will to survive. Where in the beginning being a completely harmless, almost a living, breathing human caricature of a zombie. To a person who would go to any lengths to survive. Allen’s anti-heroine performance as Molly completely took over this film. The personal evolution theme, is something I think even the late George A. Romero would’ve gotten behind.
It Stains the Sands Red is the latest effort from director Colin Minihan (Grave Encounters, Extraterrestrial). Minihan along with co-writer Stuart Ortiz previously known as the Vicious Brothers, weave a slow burning journey that keeps you on the edge of your seat, while frantically waiting for the destination. These guys are a force to be reckoned with in horror. The special effects team of Ryan and Megan Nicholson really hit the mark with their zombie make-up effects, while working with a limited budget. Even though this is not an all-out gore fest, there’s enough of the lovely splatter to keep the horror hounds howling. The film was wonderfully scored by Blitz/Berlin. Gripping and tenacious. The score never lets go of the tension, setting the tone for this impossible road to survival. You may remember Blitz/Berlin, from their epic soundtrack work in The Void (2016).
All in all, It Stains the Sands Red is quite an original entry into the zombie sub-genre. At times, it was frigidly suspenseful. While other times, it was light-hearted, endearing and downright hilarious. It was refreshing to see legitimate situational humor in a horror flick again, without making it blatantly obvious they were trying to be funny. This is the best zombie film I have seen in a really long time and I have seen many. Films like It Stains the Sands Red, make me glad I was wrong and eat my words. The zombie sub-genre hasn’t been done to death, it is alive and…. I mean dead and strong!
It Stains the Sands Red opens with a limited release in theaters July 28th, 2017…. TODAY!
Thanks for reading and remember…..