‘Grave Walkers’ Pays Loving Tribute to Classic Films, Great and Terrible Alike (Review)
Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Ari Kirschenbaum
Cast: Charlene Amoia, Vladimir Kulich, Tony Todd
Looking for legitimate insanity? The train stops at Grave Walkers… who were probably never on any train, now that I think about that. Anyhow, terrible jokes aside, Ari Kirschenbaum’s insane amalgamation of supernatural shocks, undead shamblers and apocalyptic jolts merge into an immensely enjoyable throwback to classic science fiction and horror films. Kirschenbaum clearly made this movie for the fans who genuinely love vintage, hokey joyrides.
The story is about as outlandish as it gets, and it often relies on ambiguity as a means to successfully skirt plot holes or uncultured story devices. Typically I’d call that a weakness, but for a film about a magical box that unleashes an evil that leaves human beings hallucinating severely and long-dead corpses completely reanimated with glowing green mischief in their eyes, I’d say a little ambiguity is actually a good thing. To make an attempt at explaining every single conflict in the film is to guarantee a damaging blow to the entertainment value of Grave Walkers. Like Michael Myers, and the original Halloween film, we don’t really need all the answers, sometimes a lack of knowledge proves infinitely more chilling.
Now, don’t head into this viewing experience expecting to be chilled, because in truth, the film isn’t frightening in the least bit. But frightening isn’t what (I believe) Kirschenbaum was aiming for. The design of this film obviously distances itself from serious or scary motivations, instead offering viewers a chance to enjoy a blood-soaked comedic piece with a dozen different ideas stuffed into a 95-minute film that features a dozen different nutty personalities.
In short, Grave Walkers shouldn’t work, at all. But it does work. It works surprisingly well.
There’re some excellent performances, and there are some wooden performances. The combination seems fitting, as we saw a lot of that combination in genre pictures from the 50s and 60s. And this film, half of which is presented in black and white, definitely aims to provide a classic camp vibe. That’s a vibe I can really get behind.
I could chisel away at the many minor mishaps the film suffers from (if you’re watching with an analytical eye you’ll catch more than a single flaw), but many of the shortcomings are so subtle, and fly by our eyes so quickly, nitpicking doesn’t feel all too necessary. Especially not when it comes to a feature like Grave Walkers, an outrageous trek into beautifully woven horror and often black comedy that pays homage to some of the greatest horror films we’ve seen.
You’re looking for a good time? Grave Walkers will provide you with just that. Big kudos go out to writer/director Ari Kirschenbaum who seems to a have a solid grip on the kind of celluloid that dedicated fans adore. I’ll be waiting on the next flick, Ari, you can bet on that!
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