Steve Niles' RemainsSteve Niles’ Remains
Director: Colin Theys

Cast: Miko Hughes, Lance Reddick, Grant Bowler
Review by Brian M. Sammons

Yep, it’s a zombie movie. And really, that’s all you can say about it.

Now I love zombie flicks. I was a zombie guy before it was cool, back when everyone was just ga-ga over vampires, so I hold no ill will towards the cavorting cannibalistic corpses of cinema. But man, I wish they would just go away now. If this, and other “yep zombies” flicks are the best undead entertainment we can expect to get, I wish the gallivanting ghouls would go back to their graves and give us some time to mourn them. You know, “absence makes the heart fonder” and all that. Well as it doesn’t look like the relentless march of the dead will stop any time soon, let’s get to this latest offering and see if there will be some ghoulish gory goodies to be found here, or if these zombies will only inspire Zs, as in; Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Produced for the Chiller cable TV channel, a more horror-centric offshoot of the downright dreadful SyFy channel, it often has many of the same ‘good’ movies and shows. This was one of Chiller’s first exclusive movies and to draw attention to it they chose to do an adaptation of a graphic novel by horror comic book wunderkind Steve Niles of 30 Days Of Night fame. Furthermore they blew the dust off of Miko Hughes from wherever he was hiding out after being the creepy kid in Pet Semetary and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and cast him in the lead. So you got killer baby Gage all grown up in a zombie flick made by the same people that gave us Sharktopus and Piranhaconda. Yeah, needless to say that my expectations were not high when I sat down to watch this one. Unfortunately as low as my hopes were for this, I still found this flick underwhelming.

Worse yet, if Remains would have been as ‘so bad it’s good’ as the aforementioned Sharktopus then at least I could have gotten some giggles out of it. Sadly this zombie movie was completely gutless. More bore and chore to sit through than any kind of thrill. But hell, I guess I should tell you something about the plot of this flick, just give me a poke if I happen to nod off.

In poor man’s Las Vegas, AKA Reno, a nuclear explosion devastates the city leaving only a couple of survivors. These lucky few not only have to deal with radiation and dwindling supplies, but gut munching zombies too. Because you know, that’s what happens after a nuclear explosion. Just ask the Japanese. And yes, in due time they must even face the true horror of movies like these: their fellow living humans who’ve gone all ‘survival of the fittest’ in a remarkable short amount of time.

The protagonists of Remains are a boozy card dealer and a waitress with a bit of her red neck showing who have a bitter history together. They board up a casino to do the Dawn Of The Dead thing and clear it of zombies to make it their home. This flick further rips off DotD when a group of live raiders come looking for whatever they can take. So yeah, you get the quintessential paint by numbers zombie movie without an iota of originality to be found anywhere. So without anything new going for it, can this movie be any good based on the merits of its action, actors, gore effects, and direction?

Sadly the answers are no, no, sort of, and no. There are long stretches of nothing in between ‘seen that before’ action sequences. The actors, while not Z-grade horrible, are B-movie grade at best, but without any of the campy charm that could make such performances truly enjoyable. The gore is the perhaps the best thing this zombie flick has going for it. There are some nice practical makeup effects (George Romero should really take note if he ever makes another …Of The Dead film) but it only gets a so-so grade because it also uses some completely shoddy looking, and unnecessary, digital effects. As for the direction, if the dull, uneven pacing didn’t convince you that Colin Theys really didn’t know what he was doing, or perhaps he just didn’t care to do any better for a low budget basic cable movie, then the total lack of emotion, especially any semblance of fear, should do the trick.

The new blu-ray from Shout! Factory does look surprisingly good and has a few extras of note. There’s an audio commentary track with the director, screenwriter, producer, and makeup effects guy. There is a short (about 11 minutes) three part prequel to the main movie that was kind of enjoyable. A collection of bloopers, trailers, teasers, and TV spots round out the extras.

Steve Niles’ Remains (as that seems to be this flick’s actual title) is an OK zombie film, and by that I mean it’s not really bad. However it is far from good, does nothing new, and is not memorable in the least. If you are a total zombie fan and want to see yet one more movie featuring the life-challenged flesh eaters, then this flick will do that for you, but it won’t do anything else. Consider the recommendation for Remains, like the movie itself, only so-so.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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