Stag Night of the Dead

January 21st, 2016 by Perfesser Deviant

Stag Night of the Dead   stag night ot dead 2010 poster 83x120 reviews horror comedy Director: Neil Jones
Writer: Neil Jones
Release Year: 2010

Oh those lads.

Dean (Sebastian Street) is going to marry Elaine (Jemma Lewis) and so he and his friends Marky (Bruce Lawrence), TC (James G. Fain), Ronnie (Joe Rainbow), Sanjay (Rez Kempton) and future father-in-law Gordon (Doug Grant) go on a stag night. The plan includes a stripper named Candy (Sophie Lovell Anderson), followed by a game of Zomball – a game involving lightning guns and zombies – which, of course, goes wrong. What follows is a standard zombie film with attempts at jokes.

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(Spoilers follow…)

This is three films. The first is a comedy film about a guy about to marry a woman and the revelations that he discovers during his stag night. The second film is an action film in which a bunch of people shoot at zombies without a care in the world. The third film is a zombie survival horror film. None of these films is very good on its own and, together, they are not any better.

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So, the romantic comedy part is like a bargain basement version of Bachelor Party or The Hangover or possibly something I’ve not bothered to see. The trouble with this sucker is that the jokes simply aren’t funny because they’re all the low-hanging fruit. Oh, the bride-to-be is a bitch and a raging slut who has been having sex with the scumbag best man-to-be (Marky) for years? How surprising. That same best man is a horrible friend? No kidding. Most of the other characters are basically stock characters – a guy with Tourette’s syndrome, a gangsta-wannabe, an Indian stereotype – whose roles are so underwritten that a really good actor couldn’t have done anything with them? Okay. However, unlike those other stag night movies, this one also suffers from a dearth of nudity, with only “Hot Zombie Chick” (Lily Brown) popping her top for a few seconds – aside from something that looks like stock softcore porn – meaning that Candy is one of the worst strippers ever. We do get to see Sebastian Street hung upside down, wearing little more than a leather thong, being spanked by Candy, so I guess that’s okay then.

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I’ve always found the idea of a stag night or bachelor party to be a little strange. It seems to be based on the idea that women are controlling, horrible creatures that will, after marriage, disallow any fun of any kind while ignoring that a guy in a relationship that’s supposed to be committed enough to get married really shouldn’t act any different before or after the ceremony. Perhaps it’s just an excuse for guys to act like total dickheads, but the problem with this one is that I don’t understand why you would bring your future father-in-law along to witness the sexy and drunken shenanigans at the expense of his daughter. It does turn out to be for the best in this film, but the problem is that Gordon doesn’t seem to care about his daughter at all. Very odd.

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The action film part is really not especially interesting as it’s a bunch of people I couldn’t care less about, shooting zombies with lightning guns (the people have the lightning guns, not the zombies). Now, I’m not sure when the UK military got access to lightning guns – do they have a special arrangement with the Great Race of Yith? – but you would think that this technology would be more valuable in the long run than some zombies. Would cattle prods or something similar not have been good enough? They certainly would have given us a break from the bad special effect of the lightning shooting through the air. At least the zombie makeup was pretty good, especially when compared to the other effects. Still, this part is about as much fun as watching one of those strange fishing or hunting shows that come on late at night.

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Finally, there’s the zombie survival third of the film. Ronnie is bitten by the “Hot Zombie Chick” and joins the rank of the undead, and most of the others follow quickly. Eventually it’s down to Dean the groom sans a sleeve (lost to a zombie’s bite), Candy the stripper / action girl who knows how to clumsily kick, and future father-in-law Gordon (who turns out to be a former SAS commando). Ho-hum. I never felt any tension during this sequence because most of the characters were so bland that their deaths were meaningless and any attempt at raising the stakes was immediately sabotaged by some stupid deus ex machina that made the film even more pointless. The finale, when Gordon drives Dean and Candy off in the limo and closes the partition between himself and the young couple who are likely going to screw, really, really makes me ask about his relationship with his daughter. Perhaps Gordon should have been Dean’s weird uncle or simply an awesome limo driver, or something? The final shot of a zombie in the trunk is insufferably lame, which could only have been made worse by adding “The End?” or threatening a sequel. Oh, it says that they’re going to make Hen Night of the Dead? I hope that’s just another attempt at a joke, which would not surprise me, but it’s impossible to tell because of how unfunny everything has been up to this point.

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I should mention that the whole thing is a conspiracy cooked up by Mr. Ree (Jeff Rudom), the head of Zomball, with the help of top security guy Number 48 (Mike Busson) to fund research by bringing in test subjects that pay to be tested upon. I won’t bother to comment on how quickly this plan would go tits-up because the police would eventually discover that the people who’d gone missing all went to this facility and the UK government would have to do something really quickly to avoid a scandal … except that I just commented on it. In the spirit of hiring the handicapped though, the butler, Mr. Big (Brian Wheeler), is played by a small person.

And he’s named “Mr. Big” do you get it?! Geddit?! GEDDIT?!

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So inconsistent characters, no tension, bad comedy (seriously, their idea of humor is a character named “Georgina Romero”) and a shocking lack of nudity? Yep. Is it all bad? Not all bad – just mostly – and there is some okay stuff within this mess, like some good ideas that didn’t get ruined and a few notable performances. The SAS father-in-law Doug Grant did a great job with a minor role, playing it just straight enough to be both funny and believable; plus, he looks the part as his action scenes show an older man (maybe in his 50s?) in very good physical condition for a man half his age. I’d like to see him in more stuff as he has potential. The other interesting facet to the zombies in this film is that, even after Ronnie is bitten, he doesn’t lose his wits but does immediately become part of the zombie collective. This could be an fascinating idea for a film to explore a little more as those bitten become Quislings that attempt to undermine the survivors before they fully change into the more groaning-type zombies. Even the idea of a zombie group consciousness is an interesting idea that could also be explored, making the zombies more like drones and leaving a zombie queen or something. That could make a nice change to a pretty stale genre.

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All of the blame for the various failings of this film can be laid at the feet of director / writer / producer Neil Jones. This film wants to be another Shaun of the Dead so very badly, but can’t even rise to that level of mediocrity. I really wish that budding filmmakers would avoid trying to make a film that’s funny because, of all the reactions that a film can evoke in the audience, delighted laughter is the hardest to tap into. A failed serious film can still be enjoyable if the viewer can get a laugh out of it, but a failed comedy is not funny, by definition, and thus has no value.

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On that note, this film could have been pretty good if it had been serious – fewer scenes of men being spanked would help too. Imagine it, a bunch of guys out for the night, trying to have a good time, drinking a little more than they should, who are dropped into a deadly serious game of survival where the zombies “take” their friends, one at a time, turning them into loyal zombies in a strange cross between a zombie film and a pod person epic. These people have to try to fight their way out of the situation, doing the best they can to survive, while the human soldiers around them try to keep them and the zombies penned in. You could even have a strange ending where the few survivors – maybe just the groom and the stripper – are surrounded by zombies after those zombies have torn the researchers and soldiers apart, when the zombified best man appears and tells them that the other zombies have agreed to let them go because the stripper only fought in self-defense and the groom never wanted to hurt anyone in the first place. “Besides, we need someone to go back and tell our mums that we love them.” Handled right – yes, better than my quick idea – this kind of thing could be a celebration of male friendship and the idea that your “mates” will always have your back and could even be poignant. Having a scene in which the zombies part as the survivors walk out, only to have one grab the arm of the groom and hand him a photo of the zombie’s mother and his driving license, with nothing more than a groan and a desperate look in the eyes could add to the pathos of the ending while increasing the horror that these zombies might actually still have memories of their lives and simply be trapped in their own rotting bodies and unable to communicate.

I want to see that film.

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I’m also surprised that the filmmaker got Tourette’s syndrome right, either someone knows someone with it or they watched the classic documentary John’s Not Mad. In terms of other qualities, as I mentioned above, the makeup was good and some of the music – credited to Christopher Barnett – was pretty good too. I did get a little sick of Dem (Dry) Bones as performed by The Delta Rhythm Boys as it’s not that great a song and it always reminds me of an annoying PSA from when I was a kid (the Flintstones kids talking about seat belts). The film was also shot well enough by Richard J. Wood (That’s quite a name. Were your parents stupid or just plain cruel?) and was in focus and such. So some good stuff got wasted on crap, like frosting a turd. Overall, the people behind this film simply didn’t have the talent and / or money to realize their vision, but maybe they’ll try again.

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A hint for next time guys, don’t create a poster that shows the lead actress with her tits inflated to porn-star dimensions being groped by zombie hands unless you want to antagonize your audience when they discover that your film has less nudity than the television series Rumpole of the Bailey – and less wit, charm, etc. – and none from said actress.

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Rating: Stag Night of the Dead   star reviews horror comedy Stag Night of the Dead   blankstar reviews horror comedy Stag Night of the Dead   blankstar reviews horror comedy Stag Night of the Dead   blankstar reviews horror comedy Stag Night of the Dead   blankstar reviews horror comedy


Trailer on YouTube.


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