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Fight of the Living Dead
5:38 in: System-wide failure begins. Victim's throat torn out. Reviewer checks watch. Reviewer's brain torn out.
7:25 in: Reviewer checks watch again. The center will not hold.
15:01 in: Zombies wandering. Some running. Run-time status checked third time.
20:12 in: They want me (brain)dead. 30 minutes to go. Please let it end. Experiment failure.
OK, at 38 minutes, a mild frisson passes through me. Very, very mild, and instantly forgotten. But that's it. How can a 'reality show' about a zombie outbreak be so very boring and un-engaging? Maybe since a zombie outbreak isn't real? Just saying. At any rate, if you go in blind, Fight Of The Living Dead throws you the viewer right into the mix with no information (mainly because you conveniently forgot what was written on the back of the DVD case). You'll be scratching your head and mentally checking out within minutes. Trust me.
Fight opens with '70s era computer graphics and electronic voices - an odd choice, as such novelties predate the lives, by 20 years, of the two four-person teams trapped with zombies in an abandoned prison. Teams of real-life YouTube 'stars' (a dubious designation, that) are charged with escaping the prison by completing a series of ill-defined tasks, lest they face certain death at the hands of the zombies.
It's difficult to comprehend how one might squander the potential of a bad idea that had no potential in the first place. To be honest, this effort is so slight I am hard-pressed to even want to explain why I disliked the concoction so much. (I even broke my cardinal rule, watching the extras before writing this review, so yes, I know a LOT of hard work went into making Fight Of The Living Dead.)
What didn't end up on the screen represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the horror and Reality TV genres. A pretty big miscalculation if you ask me. Missing the Reality TV mark, Fight offers no narrative explanation as to who these people are, a cornerstone of any good Reality show: at 51-minutes of run-time, how could we get to know them anyway? If you're looking for any type of connection to our heroes beyond ultra-brief bios listing 'prankster' or 'does impressions,' look elsewhere. If you're looking for evidence of pranksters or impersonators doing pranks or impressions, look elsewhere as well. In fact, if you'd like more than 2 minutes to get to know the characters before they get knocked off, you're out of luck. If you'd like to even understand what they are tasked with beyond: run, find key, or make serum, just give up. Fight is a total failure as a reality program.
But at least it's scary, right? Guess again. Filmed in a fairly well lit institution, with shaky camera work, Fight never generates any tension. There's no sense of peril, considering we can't possibly identify with our protagonists. Even were we able to relate, less than an hour of medium-throttle 'go-go-go' semi-hysteria supplied by zombies who never really seem to pose much of a threat (not that they don't kill almost everyone) just won't do the trick.
51:00 in: Thank god that's over. Fight Of The Living Dead, neither a good Reality program, nor a good horror short feature, is the equivalent of watching people you don't know making their way through a one-trick, brightly lit spook house. There's simply nothing there for anyone to enjoy. Skip It with a vengeance.
The 1.85:1 ratio transfer looks OK when you are able to focus on it: lots of shaky-cam, plenty of digital grit and faux-distortion. Acceptable by DVD standards for what it is: decent digital color and flesh-tones, so-so black levels. It would probably look better, or more appropriate at least, on YouTube.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio lands in the middle of the sonic range. Barely active in mix, and neither terribly beefy, nor sweet sounding, it does little more than what it needs to. Overdubbed instructions, computer voices, and on-site recording of the contestants all sound adequate.
You can watch Fight Of The Living Dead as a Feature Presentation or in Episode Form. Episode form might be the best way to go, since you don't have to swallow the whole bitter pill at once. Character Profiles run a minute or two each. You also might consider watching these before the series, so at least you have a vague handle on who these folks are. A four-and-a-half-minute Behind The Scenes featurette will engender you with mild, grudging respect for the effort behind this mess, until one of the producers says the project is exciting because "anything can happen." No, it can't. It's fictional, scripted, 'reality' TV. How on earth can 'anything happen?'
Fight Of The Living Dead, neither a good Reality program, nor a good horror short feature, is the equivalent of watching people you don't know making their way through a one-trick, brightly lit spook house. There's simply nothing there for anyone to enjoy. Skip It with a vengeance.