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Zombie Honeymoon

Many married women may have contemplated how they might react to, hypothetically, discovering their husband in the bathtub with another woman. Some may even have considered, briefly, the scenario of catching their spouse in the bathtub with another man. Not many, however, are known to brood over the prospect of stumbling in on their betrothed, in the tub, eating another man's intestines. The latter, however, is the cause of early marital tension for Danny (Graham Sibley) and Denise (Tracy Coogan), whose honeymoon gets off to a rocky start in Zombie Honeymoon (2005) when a strange man emerges from the ocean near their beach house and vomits black goo into Danny's mouth. This freak attack kills Danny, but only for 10 minutes, after which he is sprightly and impulsive, confusing his relieved — but traumatized — bride. And when Denise discovers that Danny's brief-death experience has also left the former vegetarian with a taste for human innards, she is naturally vexed. How does "'Till death do us part" apply to zombism? Zombie Honeymoon sounds like ripe material for dark red comedy, and it does offer some small laughs, but writer-director David Gebroe takes a most unusual approach, filming his tale of undead love with sincerity and intimacy, attempting to seriously broach the conflict between fidelity and flesh-eating. Amazingly, he is partially successful at realizing what is ostensibly a ridiculous idea. Coogan is so convincing as Denise, struggling to balance her pangs of devotion and revulsion, that Zombie Honeymoon is far more effective than it has any right to be. Gebroe knowingly exploits Coogan's excellent performance, clinging to her quietly expressive face with long takes that inform the movie with unexpected emotional substance. Sadly, the other actors are not up to her high standard, and Sibley, while fine by zombie standards, is never pressed to deal with his cannibalism in any meaningful way, robbing this macabre love story of satisfying resonance. Gebroe's focus on intimacy rather than rowdy fun also makes the movie's more traditional, graphic gore sequences feel cynical and gratuitous, clashing with and interrupting the more ambitious narrative. Gebroe makes good use of the HDTV aesthetic of this low-budget production to create an atmosphere of realism (similar to that in the terrific Open Water), but he's let down by flat supporting performances, unconvincing and trite plotting, and the typically uninspiring sound design that mars so many low-budget features. Originally produced for the Showtime cable network, Zombie Honeymoon is presented in an anamorphic transfer (1.77:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The disc includes two commentary tracks, the first with Coogan and Sibley, and the second with Gebroe, who explains how his unorthodox zombie film was conceived as an aid to his sister in dealing with the sudden death of her husband. Also included is a behind-the-scenes featurette, and excerpts from the Zombie Honeymoon segments of the indie documentary Horror Business. Trailer, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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