All Souls Day was part of the wave of zombie films that continues to flood the direct-to-video (and at times straight to cable) market. This particular zombie movie was written by Mark A. Altman who also wrote the campy and very B-movie-like House of the Dead 2. This was a zombie flick which actually improved on Uwe Boll’s own House of the Dead that doesn’t really come as a surprise. All Souls Day was Altman’s second try at another zombie movie and while this second attempt wasn’t as fun as his previous one it still managed to be a watchable and interesting zombie movie.
The film’s set in a dusty Mexican town that hides a dark secret from its past. A young couple (played by Marisa Ramirez and Travis Wester) happen upon what seems like an abandoned town. They soon come across a funeral procession and when they inadvertently interrupt the ritual all hell literally breaks loose. It doesn’t help the couple that the only person who seems to be real in this town was the sheriff whose own past ties in with the secret of the town. It was very good to see genre veteran David Keith in the role of the town sheriff. His limited time in the movie was pretty good.
When the town’s people (who by now have shown themselves to be zombies) begin to lay siege on the young couple in the town’s only hotel the rest of the movie gradually shows more of what made this particular Mexican town a death trap for any passerby who happen to come across it on All Souls Day. Soon enough help comes in the form of the young couple’s two friends who arrive in town only to get themselves stuck in the same dire situation the original couple find themselves in.
The resolution of the movie was handled well and it brought a nice supernatural origin and reason as to why the town’s population has turned into flesh-eating zombies. The performances in the film could be seen as being mixed. The more veteran performers like Jeffrey Combs, David Keith, Danny Trejo (as the town’s manipulative patriarch) and Laura Herring perform their roles well without being too over-the-top. The actors playing the pair of young couples on the other hand go from very good to awful in the span of moments in some of the scenes. It’s really this mixed bag in the cast’s performance which keeps All Souls Day from turning into one of those hidden gems in a hill of crap that most zombie flicks turn out to be.
The gore effects in this film was pretty good in the small amount of sequences where the zombies end up doing what they do best once they get a hold of someone. While I was hoping for more of the grue in this particular zombie movie I wasn’t too surprised why it didn’t have more. Other than the pair of young couple there really wasn’t much living people for these zombies to munch on. The film itself show’s it’s low-budget origins in that it looks like something one would see premiere on a random Saturday night on the SyFy Channel. The film actually did premiere on that channel when it was still called SciFi. It’s a look that says TV instead of film, but despite that little nitpick it doesn’t distract much from the experience.
Now, most zombie films of the low-budget variety tend to just have badly done make-up effects. With All Souls Day the filmmakers seem to have done an end-around that budgetary problem by taking a page out of the classic Italian zombie flicks of the 1980’s by making these undead dry, decayed creatures. It’s something that worked well for the Fulci zombies and here it works as well.
All Souls Day was not a great zombie film by any stretch of the imagination, but it had enough entertaining moments and some genuine scary sequences to make it an enjoyable hour and a half of horror viewing on any October night.