The opening frame of “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story” sets a dark and disturbing tone. An organ blasts an off-key note as you hear a woman scream. Suddenly, far in the distance, you see her running for her dear life. And creeping ever so slowly behind her? A brain eating zombie. Then a pop. The zombie’s head explodes from a shotgun blast. And that’s when everyone starts singing.
Though the first 45 seconds of “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story” feels like a wickedly nasty zombie flick, it is anything but. It’s a musical that’s charming, funny and full of some seriously witty songs. It is essentially exactly what the title promises: a zombie love story.
Our love story begins in a not so distant world where the zombie apocalypse is nearing its end, thanks to the shotgun toting Brock (Boston Stergis). He has killed all but two of the flesh-eaters and is the hero of his town. The ladies swoon at his chiseled good looks, the men want to be him and he’s a role model for all of the children. He single handedly saved everyone – and he’s the villain of this film. I say villain in the loosest of terms, because our heroes are the last two flesh eaters left: Brock’s recently deceased love Zoey (Lisa Musser) and the cute store clerk Parker (Maxwell Glick), two misunderstood zombies who find each other in the chaos and fall madly in love. Yes, it’s a zombie-human-zombie love triangle that can only end one of two ways: the zombies living happily ever after in peace and harmony or with more carnage and death.
Because nearly the entire film is sung, it’s appropriate to begin this review with the music. It’s excellent to say the least, composed of a blend of hard rock mixed with the classic zombie sounding organs and, naturally, several love ballads, including a beautiful duet between our undead lovers. It’s fast, fun and always has that horror vibe to it that reminds you that you’re still watching a zombie movie. The lyrics are operatic in the sense that they are essentially telling the entire story. They are dense and it probably would take a couple of viewings to pick up on all of the clever puns. Composer Greg Szydlowski has certainly beefed up his resume with this massive undertaking.
But music can only be as good as the people who are singing it, and luckily for “Rigamortis” they cast actors who could not only give solid performances, but also hold a solid pitch just as well. The trio of leads are dynamic, and as their story intertwines, the performances grow. There is a certain amount of comedic and dramatic weight that each brings to the table – the overly confident and cocky Brock, the beautiful and moral Zoey and the cute, but sometimes blood thirsty Parker all play off of each other wonderfully and have no problem keeping things entertaining for the 35-minute duration of the film. And with a terrific singing and dancing chorus behind them, the film feels much larger than it probably was.
Directors Ted Campbell and Dave Dewes and the team at Collateral Damage Productions were brave to take on such a large project, given the low budget they had to work with. Credit goes to the details of this movie, the little things that really make this film memorable. The little boy that laughs as his face is splattered with his zombie mother’s blood, the zombie kill count hanging in the bar, the hairy chest baby picture of Brock and about 150 other moments that you can continually spot on repeat viewings.
But make no mistake, though this movie is very silly at times, it ultimately takes itself very seriously – and rightfully so. It’s a complete and thorough piece that has something for everyone to enjoy. What it lacks in violence and gore, it makes up for in music and song. What it lacks in genuine scares, it makes up in genuine laughs. It’s probably the most family friendly zombie movie that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and it feels like at any moment this movie could really blow up. We don’t endorse romance, comedies or musicals often on LAHorror.com, but “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story” is absolutely worth a view. So join the zombie parade and get on board with this flick so you can say you saw it first.