There appears to be no end in sight to zombie movies, especially the low budget variety produced by filmmakers looking to make names for themselves. After all, it was zombies that launched the career of George Romero, and the living dead have continued to be the monster of choice for countless directors for over forty years. Joining this list is New Zealand filmmaker Logan McMillan, who wears multiple hats in the ambitious-yet-flawed mix of horror and comedy, Last of the Living.
Set months after the zombie apocalypse, Last of the Living finds three slackers surviving the rise of the living dead by hiding out in abandoned homes and ransacking grocery stores. Morgan (Morgan Williams), a self-absorbed jackass, and Ash (Ashleigh Southam), a hopeless goofball, are childhood best friends. The third member of their party is Johnny (Robert Faith), a whacked out rock drummer and aspiring kickboxer who specializes in a move called the "berserker" that is highly ineffective. How these three idiots have managed to survive a night of hard drinking is hard to fathom, let alone the dead coming back from the grave. But survive they have, fueled by the hope of meeting some hot chicks and maybe landing a record deal (never mind the fact there's no one left to listen to music). Our wonder trio stumble across Stef (Emily Paddon-Brown) and her father, two other survivors of the zombie plague. As fate would have it, not only is Stef a hot chick, she's also a scientist who believes she has discovered a serum to reverse the disease that has created zombies. The only problem is that she must get the serum from a hospital surrounded by the walking dead, and then fly it to a near-by island. With nothing better to do, our heroes decide to help her.
Filmed for a reported $5000 (that's five-thousand American dollars), Last of the Living is not nearly as bad as you might expect for a film of such limited means. There are some fun moments--most of them courtesy of Robert Faith who steals every scene he's in--and in the broad scheme of things, this is not a terrible movie. At the same time, it is not without its problems. The ultra low budget is evident in the less-than-special special make up effects, and it looks like the entire world has been taken over by the same twenty zombies. But these problems are not the biggest faced by Last of the Living. Most notable problems are that the film drags, the comedy isn't all that funny, and the horror isn't scary at all. All of this makes for a feature film that would have been much better as a short.
Comparing itself to Shaun of the Dead--a mistake if there ever was one--Last of the Living is fine if taken for what it is. And what it is, is a micro-budget zombie flick trying really hard to be entertaining despite its limited resources. Fans of zombie movies that are not hard to please are likely to enjoy it more than I did, which is hardly a ringing endorsement, but about as positive a review as I can muster.
Last of the Living is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is good, especially for such a low budget film that's been shot on video.
Last of the Living is presented in 2.0 stereo in English. The sound quality is okay, but not great. The audio levels are acceptable, and the mix is fine, but the sound itself suffers from what was most likely bad recording initially, resulting in a hollow quality that makes the film sound cheap.
The disc includes interviews with the cast.
I didn't hate Last of the Living, but at the same time I didn't have to pay to see it, and I will probably never watch it again. Given a choice of watching this or Shaun of the Dead, or even Zombieland--which I was ambivalent about--I would choose either of those films first. But if you are a diehard zombie fan that has to watch everything, you'll want to watch this at least once.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]