Monday, April 05, 2010

Day Nine: Grey Knight (1993)

This is another film that I really wasn't sure about before pulling it up on the old Netflix Streaming.

Grey Knight is a Civil War Zombie film, although the zombies in this are a little bit vampire and a little bit ghost, as well. They can't cross running water, have aversions to silver, and only come out at night.

But, at the same time, they're more like the Nazi zombies of Dead Snow, in that they're agile and fully conscious. And their origins involve African magic instead of your traditional vampire source material.

That said, this is really more of a vampire movie than a zombie film, but it's really not a vampire movie either.

Does that even make sense?

The source of the zombification is part of what makes this both interesting and a little puzzling. Somewhere, underground, live The Makers. And they bring the dead back to life. An African tribe that nobody fucked with, was fucked with by white slave traders and some sort of plague was brought to America. Is it vampirism? Is it zombieism? Who knows.

Regardless, The Makers are over here now, and as the Civil War is winding down, a group of soldiers from both sides are slaughtering people and recruiting the newly dead. Adrian Pasdar (Heroes) is recruited by Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) - at the suggestion of Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now) - who then recruits captured Confederate leader Corbin Bernsen (L.A. Law) to track down his old allies (one of whom is Billy Bob Thornton (Slingblade), sort of).

There are a lot of recognizable names in this (including a short appearance by David Arquette and a large, but silent, part by Cynda Williams (One False Move)), and the director, George Hickenlooper, also directed Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse and the short, Some Folks Call It A Slingblade, which might explain Sheen and Thornton's involvement. It was written by Matt Greenberg, who was also responsible for Halloween H20, Reign of Fire, and the recent 1408.

Okay, that's the pedigree, but is the film any good?

Surprisingly, yes. Although, as I noted, it's more of a vampire/ghost film, it's nicely put together and aside from a few narrative glitches here and there, isn't a bad way to pass an evening. Corbin Bernsen is actually very good as the Southern POW forced to hunt down his old regiment, and is about the only character with an actual development arc. This is his film and he does a fine job with it.

This isn't the best film we've watched this week, but it's not the worst. And for one that actually takes itself seriously and doesn't fall back on easy comedy and gore, it really does stand on its own as one of the better films we've watched this time out. I wouldn't say that you HAVE to see it, but it's not a waste of your time.

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