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Dejan Ognjanovic [Celluloid 08.29.09] Serbia zombies review horror action



Year: 2009
Directors: Milan Konjevic & Milan Todorovic
Writers: Vukota Brajovic & Milan Konjevic & Milan Todorovic
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Dejan Ognjanovic
Rating: 3 out of 10

[Cross-posted on cultofghoul]

ZONE OF THE DEAD is a disappointing film about zombies. Yes, another one of those cheap knock-offs too preoccupied with their obvious homages to actually deliver something original.

This is one of those flicks in which characters have names after genre greats; here we have agents Savini and Bottin, while the female lead is called Mina Millius. Pity that neither the make-up effects nor direction in this film are anywhere near the works of the invoked masters.


This is one of those flicks in which they just put make-up on a bunch of friends and family members who are too happy to clown around, each playing their own version of a zombie, but with no real coordination or training that real stuntmen and extras would have.

This is one of those flicks in which the "shaky-cam" is so over-used you are bound to feel at turns frustrated, nauseous and angry at the stupid directorial choice to spoil every action or gore set-piece by making it unwatchable. The make-up effects by Serbian maestro Miroslav Lakobrija are not too inspired in their design, but are quite fine in their execution, and there was no need to hide them by shaking the cam so frantically every time a zombie appears.

The plot is your usual been-there, done-that: a stupid brawl causes an accidental chemical spill in a Serbian industrial town which creates armies of people with bad skin and tattered clothes. In the middle of that are the stock characters copy-pasted from the manual SCREENWRITING FOR DUMMIES: ''grizzled (ex-)cop/agent (with dead/divorced wife, trauma from the past, popping pills etc.) –comes across trouble on the last day of work before pension'', played by Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD). He accompanies ''a rookie assigned to an important mission/investigation'', female agent Millius (Kristina Klebe – Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN) who has a predictable character arc – from a frightful, clumsy woman to a Sigourney Weaver-like action hero shooting with guns in both hands.

Ken Foree is probably the only reason anyone would want to see this otherwise unimpressive flick; after all, this is his first chance, after Romero's classic, to fight the undead. Sadly, the unspirited script does not provide him with much to do, although Foree is among the rare professionals in this crew, and his charisma is still up there on the screen. Nothing of the kind can be spotted in any other "actor" here. Serbian character actor Miki Krstovic comes close, but wait until you see the embarrassingly clumsy and unintentionally hilarious scene of him turning into a zombie.

The film lacks attitude of any kind, and although nominally situated in Serbia, it has little to none of the local color or relevance. The authors keep invoking Carpenter's ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 as their main inspiration, but somehow they failed to create a comparable tension and suspense: ZONE OF THE DEAD is one of the dullest and most uneventful siege-movies you'll ever see. Also, there is none of Carpenter's cynicism or "f*** the authority" attitude". Actually, this is a rare zombie flick in which the president is a good guy (!) and the military is positive/neutral.

All in all, this is one tiresome flick: you will strain your eyes trying to see anything in the dizzy "action" scenes; you will strain your ears to understand the poor English spoken by the Serbian actors; you will strain your patience waiting for Ken Foree to say or do anything cool, and the best one-liner the screenwriters could come up with is: "Die, you zombie bastard!"

There have been some very good Serbian horror films, like DEJA VU (1987) or T. T. SYNDROME (2002), and there are some good ones coming later this year. ZONE OF THE DEAD is not one of them. In terms of its overall accomplishment (or lack thereof), it comes closest to the cheap, ugly Italian flicks by Bruno Mattei, like HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD and ZOMBIE 3. There is some irony in that: aiming at Carpenter and Millius, but ending in the Mattei territory.

But, who knows: if enough people are fooled to rent ZONE OF THE DEAD on DVD because of Ken Foree, the planned sequel might reach the level of, say, Umberto Lenzi. One can always hope.

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

"if enough people are fooled to rent ZONE OF THE DEAD on DVD because of Ken Foree"

Hmm... kind of like we were fooled into watching Zombie Diaries by its cover. Many parts of your review sounded like it could be for either film. Too bad... wish it would have been better... even just for Ken's sake.

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donc48 (7 years ago) Reply

Is is me or is the Zombie genre going the way of vampires?

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Ben Austwick (7 years ago) Reply

It's not you. I'd like to suggest an international ban, enforced with strict punishments, until someone comes up with something new for this genre.

Fun review though!

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

I cannot believe that anyone can be fooled by one review, which is obviously made by a person that has personal grudge against the film.
check another review on horrortalk
http://www.horrortalk.com/reviews/ZotD/ZotD.html

and after you see the film, you'll see that Ognjanovic is just a little jerk!

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Peter (7 years ago) Reply

How is it possible that these two reviews are so different??
and user comments on imdb are also positive!

maybe this Ognjenovic guy is really having personal issues with the film!

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

It's true. That Ognjanjevic guy (how do you pronounce that?) is bashing this movie because he was not allowed to the set. He wanted to play a zombie and interview Ken Foree and was denied. Because of it, he's the number one hater of the movie.

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

Ognjanovic is obviously biased.

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The Nude Bomb (7 years ago) Reply

This is not a review, this is only a cover up for personal vendetta Mr. Ognjanovic has been focusing his strength and energy on for almost two years now. Yes it's true that he wanted to take part in Zone Of The Dead (he had a cameo or a smaller role for himself in mind and he had some ideas he tried to impose), and being rejected he started a war against the directors and the film itself. Quiet Earth should not allow to be debased to the level of such PETTY, deeply personal vendettas of so-called reviewers.

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silver surfer (7 years ago) Reply

:) this accuastion that Ognjanovic have some personal issues with the film sound so childish and it is even more interesting to see so many "comments" for the movie which usally in any other circumstance wouldn't even attract any comment on international level....but in any way go check the movie for yourself. I had privilege to see it in the cinema and I couldn't agree more with Ognjanovic review which is as someone mention before where funny in usally Ognjanovics way !

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Skinstripper (7 years ago) Reply

Well, these arguments have just canceled each other out, it seems. There is no way to tell the voracity of the reviewer, and no way to tell the truthfulness of the responders. Looks like a draw. Although, from the trailers, I would assume it wouldn't be more than a 6 out of 10.

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Dejan Ognjanovic (7 years ago) Reply

he he, I see that the plant-machine from the ZONE's production is working overtime, even on Sunday.
a legion of anonymous zombies is already planting their 'explanations' about my blasting their excuse for a film.
sadly, no amount of hate and insults can change the fact that ZONE OF THE DEAD is a poorly made, laughable, barely competent effort.

as to my voracity, I can eat a lot, thank you very much.
but if you meant veracity, or credibility, you can check dozens of my reviews in English very easily: just go to google, type 'Dejan Ognjanovic review' and I'm sure you'll have quite enough to see whether my taste and credibility are in question.

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Iron Man (7 years ago) Reply

The point is that Ognjanovic`s review is NOT a valid one. Perhaps Zone of the Dead is not the best zombie movie ever, but it surely deserves more than 3 out of 10 stars rating. I think that IMDB ratings of 6.6 are quite fair. And about Ognjanovic`s personal grudge, I know about it for some time. So, it`s about this site NOT to allow guys like this to even THINK of posting their BS in here. There are free forums all around the internet, so puny little creatures like Ognjanovic can spread their BS talk...but NOT in here, and NOT in a form of sincere review!

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YoYo (7 years ago) Reply

for christ sake when the imdb became any relevant criterium for movie raitings?

dan't make me laugh...you have every year at least 40 movies made like this one with poor acting, poor directing, poor everything with some gore and nudity and you have 6.6 with hundred votes on imdb with lots of help from company which participated in movie making ;

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K. (7 years ago) Reply

I caught Zone of the Dead in the Cannes Market, my row held our giggles at the film's incompetence for a few minutes, and left 15 minutes when are laughter was getting too noisy.

One of the worst zombie productions I've seen - though it could get cult status as a terrible film. The continuity was ridiculous, the sky changed color (day, then night) between several shots.

Ognjanovic's review was generous.

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here comes the sun (7 years ago) Reply

I just checking it on imdb....out of 130 viewrs 50 gave it "10"! and the second largest concetration about ( 25 viewrs) is ofcourse on "1" .....but comeon ? 50 people to give this "movie" grade 10 ??? I think that is obvious from where those votes came...crew, actors, friends and such it is btw their interest to pump it up and imdb is still most popular movie site for averge viewer....and then one would say that imdb represent quite fair judgment :)

oh yes and all those viewers who gave it 1 they must have some personal grudge against this movie....it is all one big conspiracy!:

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Rolex (7 years ago) Reply

Quietearth should REMOVE this review immediately! It`s full of lies and it`s not relevant at all.
We all know who Mr. Ognjanovic is, so something like this is expected. I was at convention in Belgrade and I know about his grudge against this movie. And all positive comments about his review are written by one hand - a hand of ridiculously jealous guy, who don`t have a life of his own!

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SSS (7 years ago) Reply

Come on, stop with this malicious comments!
Zone of the Dead is quite good horror movie and really deserves that rate of 6.6 on IMDB.

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

yeah right! Z grade movie with 17 comments now that is the biggest achievement this movie will ever have! imdb is jealous :)

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

Zomne of the dead is pure trash fun. Nothing more. This review is pretty accurate although not correct in term of boredom - movie is funny because it is total trash and not serious flick that was intented to be. Believe me, such bad acting and really insane direction and worst of all, such bad editing and incredibly shaky cam and completelly stupid finale you won't forget you've never seen! This movie really sux but as a troma type of C-trash it is actually quite good! And I am not saying this because I am jealous or something... I was actually extra in some final scenes and even talk to Foree and take pictures with him. But I can't be positive over missed opportunity to make good film... not even if I was a small part of it.

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Anonymous (7 years ago) Reply

"The point is that Ognjanovic`s review is NOT a valid one"

The point is NOT a valid one. The review was generous indeed, Zone of the dead is truly incompetent. At the horrorthon in Dublin it prompted perhaps the most walkouts of the festival. And trust me, us horror fans are overly generous, especially with zombie movies.

The script and dialogue delivery is absolutely terrible and the shakey cam is ineffective. It should have been made in the first language of the filmakers, which wouldn't have made up for how generic it is, but would have gone a long way

Interesting how "many" people "know" of a personal grudge from the reviewer... As for appealing to the most ridiculous authority fallacy, there are only 150 votes on IMDB, and well, it's IMDB.

The director was a class act and nice guy though, and Foree was cool too.

Anyone who PERSONALLY ATTACKS someone for providing an opinion on a movie, is just being petty, malicious and pathetic. Not liking a movie is hardly any of those things.

Yeah after seeing Zone of The Dead you'll realise that the guy who gave it a bad review is a jerk... Get fucking real, do a damn logic course, and look in the damn mirror.

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Creepy Fan (7 years ago) Reply

Uncle Creepy from Dread Central liked the movie a lot. He knows horror movies much better than this reviewer.

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Anonymous (5 years ago) Reply

I am sorry but this shaky cam really spoiled the whole movie for me. It literally had scenes shaking so bad i started getting nausiated

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