We all remember the line from the original DAWN OF THE DEAD, “When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth”. Somewhat surprisingly though, beyond the occasional vague references to Hell, few modern films have really used religion in conjunction with zombies. Even voodoo, the source of pre-Romero zombies has been pretty much abandoned. French filmmaker Emmanuel Saez has combined the living dead and Catholicism to produce ANGELS VS ZOMBIES.
Beginning with a meteor shower that destroys Rome and the Vatican. The Pope and six cardinals escape the carnage and are revealed to be archangels. Sometime later two French cops arrest a violent criminal Paul (Vincent Andres) who suffers cardiac arrest and dies. But on the way to the hospital, he revives as though nothing had happened. Once at the hospital all hell breaks loose as patients become raging killers. The surviving policeman David (Philippe Coste) finds himself teamed with Victoria (Sonia Perez) one of the archangels. As it turns out Paul is one of the Four Horsemen foretold in the Book of Revelations and he’s unleashing Satan’s army on the world.
Despite the film’s title, the creatures in ANGELS VS ZOMBIES don’t really fit the definition of a zombie. There’s no flesh eating that I noticed and they can use tools, especially guns, with deadly effect. The film was shot as DARK PATCH, a reference to the dark spot on the brains of those who’ve been contaminated. The nearest comparison I can think of is the radioactive “zombies” in Lenzi’s NIGHTMARE CITY. But even they ate human flesh.
Although rooted in Christianity and Catholicism in particular ANGELS VS ZOMBIES is not a religious or preachy film. Elements from other belief systems such as reincarnation play into the story as does technology. The dark spot on the creature’s brain is detected by special glasses, not by any divine power, for example.
On the downside, the film suffers from the curse of too many low budget films these days, CGI. I know I keep saying it, but it’s true, bad CGI is a curse. From the cargo plane at the film’s beginning to the blood spray, muzzle flashes and assorted carnage it takes its toll on the film. It doesn’t ruin it, but it doesn’t help either.
An offbeat and very different film ANGELS VS ZOMBIES is worth taking a chance on. It’s currently available from TriCoast Entertainment on DVD and VOD platforms.