All Souls Day: Dia do los Muertos is your standard low-budget zombiefest that could probably be dismissed as yet another disposable entry in a suddenly crowded sub-genre, except that the scruffy little thing actually represents a big step up for most of the participants.
Following a few film festival screenings, the flick premiered as a “Sci-Fi Channel Original,” and if you’ve ever seen at least a half-dozen of those movies, you’ll be able to recognize that All Souls Day is a marked improvement over stuff like Alien Apocalypse, Webs, or Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys (for cryin’ out loud!)
Harkening back to the pre-Romero zombie sensibility, in which the ravenous undead just sorta … mill around, All Souls Day is about a small Mexican town that’s populated by three types of people: shrieking young idiots, creepy townsfolk, and ravenous zombies. Of course there’s all sorts of hazy back-stories and sketchy attempts at character development, but all you need to know is this: zombies eat people.
The director is Mark Kasten, whom the genre-loyal may remember as the director of the rather awful The Attic Expeditions, a flick that makes All Souls Day look the original Night of the Living Dead (or at least the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead). So here’s a solid step up the ladder for Mr. Kasten.
The screenwriter is Mark Altman, whose previous credit came attached to Uwe Boll’s monumentally atrocious House of the Dead. All Souls Day is a whole helluva lot more impressive than House of the Dead, even if it’s not as unintentionally hilarious.
Plus All Souls Day has a few appearances from folks like Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), David Keith (Firestarter), Danny Trejo (From Dusk Till Dawn, Ellie Cornell (Halloween 4 & 5), Laura Harring (Willard), Nichole Hiltz (May), Mircea Monroe (Pterodactyl), and her lovely bare bosoms — which means that the genre-aware will be able to find some familiar folks kicking some Mexican zombie keester.
Toss in a whole bunch of purple dialogue, silly plot turns, wacky flashbacks, and enough zombie-induced gore-geysers to keep the splatter-fans happy, and you’re looking at a flick that’s just campily entertaining to warrant a weekend rental. But only if you’re a hardcore horror junkie who scours the internets looking for new monster movies to devour.
And while it’s certainly rough around the edges, almost perpetually silly, and shot with too little in the lighting department, I’d rather sit down with a knowingly tacky little indie like All Souls Day than a shameless husk of a studio remake like The Fog … not that that’s any sort of enthusiastic endorsement.