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Monday, October 30, 2023

Zombie Town (2023)

I’m a bit older than many of you who frequent the site, so I was never a “Goosebumps kid”. Though I totally understand the sense of nostalgia that many of you have for the book series and the Saturday morning show. Anything that introduces the next generation to the spooky stuff gets a big thumbs up from me. That said I actually really dug the first Goosebumps movie with Jack Black and those Fear Street flicks that Netflix did from another R.L. Stine property were pretty good as well. I had hope we were going to have some more fun when I saw this movie based on one of his books show up to stream on Hulu.

Mike hates horror movies and can’t wait to “escape” from his small town life. His friend Amy and most of the folks who live in the small town are huge horror fans. That is mostly because a famous director of zombie flicks, Len Carver, is from there. Since he is the most famous resident folks are all about his movies. Though he is a bit of a recluse and hasn’t made any new movies in many years. That is until he decides to premier a new flick, Zombie Town, at the local theater. Mike works there and decides to show Amy the movie early. When the do though something happens and most of the townsfolk turn into zombies.

Why not Amy and Mike? There is something about an ancient curse and the symbols on the film cans they were inexplicably using as trays for their popcorn and soda. The rest of the story has them running around town trying not to get turned into zombies while at the same time sorting out how to save their friends and families. Along the way we learn the big secret of director Carver and why he has been a recluse for so many years. Not to worry though when we get to the end credits it all works out.

Honestly, I was disappointed. The story is very slow with little happening and what we do see has been done much better elsewhere. That surprised me. Now I’ve never read the book but what few things I’ve read from Stine always struck me as at least entertaining. Sure it might be watered down and tamed for a young audience, but it still had some meat on the bone. Most of what happens here are the main characters running from location to location stopping long enough for a zombie to show up and do something before they flee again. There isn’t a single memorable sequence or scene. This is further complicated by what I have to say is a terrible cast who bring nothing to the screen. This includes Dan Akroyd who seems to be sleepwalking thru his scenes for a paycheck as well as Chevy Chase who is barely in the movie.

While I wasn’t expecting anything too disturbing or horrific being a PG-13 movie based off of a tween book I had hoped for more than I got here. The zombies are all rather tame and don’t bite or even menace folks too much. In fact, some of them, like zombie Landro, are played for laughs. We see zombies doing pratfalls and one acting as a chauffeur. But even some of the Saturday morning shows had a bit of a creepy edge to them and at least one scare. We get none of that here not even a cheap jump scare. The creature design is okay and if there were any real attempts to make them creepy or threating it might have worked. Sadly we got neither so the creature part of Zombie Town falls flat for me as well.

Bad story, bad acting, bad creatures, bad movie. I’m not sure much else needs to be said here. If you are wanting to check out something much better Hulu also released a Goosebumps limited series with Justin Long. I’m a couple of episodes in so far and it is way creepier with a better cast. It makes me feel like the filmmakers here didn’t do justice to the original material. When done right Stine’s work translates well to the screen. Check out the show and skip this movie.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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