How many of you have sat watching a horror movie and hollered at the screen a few times? That one chick is going the wrong way or somebody is heading straight for the midget carrying a chainsaw. We do it all the time. Sometimes you just can’t believe how completely idiotic the characters are acting. The reality is…we’d probably be just as useless and stupid. Thankfully, the dead don’t rise from the grave so that’s a moot point.
All Souls Day is a great example of a movie packed with “What The Hell??!” moves and “YOU IDIOT!” decisions. What’s even more puzzling about this so-so zombie flick is that it was sliced and diced for a Sci-Fi Channel release. Apparently, that premier on Sci-Fi did it more harm than good as horror fans were given what amounted to a Seinfeld episode with zombies.
The year is 1892 and the temple of the Mayan Goddess of Death, Ixtab has been located in a mine owned by wealthy landowner, Vargas Diaz (Danny Trejo). Vargas promises to share the wealth of the temple with the town. As the villagers celebrate Dia De los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Vargas lures them all into the mine. Mysteriously, the mine blows up, burying the entire population of Santa Bonita beneath its rubble. Vargas has struck a deal with the Goddess of Death…the lives of the town in exchange for eternal life. A curse is set in motion. The dead rise once a year on Dia De Los Muertos and seek a sacrifice.
Fast forward to 1952, The White Family is on vacation, celebrating the release from the hospital of their polio stricken little boy, Ricky (Noah Luke). After some heavy duty driving, Thomas White (Jeffrey Combs) decides to stop through and get some gas and grab a room for the night. The Whites enter the small hotel in Santa Bonita and are confronted with a weeping woman (Laura Harring) scrubbing blood from the floor and an old lady (Julia Vera) with a bad attitude. The Whites aren’t easily frightened off though, like most sane people would be, and they decide to check themselves into the hotel.
Old sister, Lily White (Mircea Monroe) is more than a bit pissed when she’s stuck in the same room with her bratty gimp of a brother. That doesn’t stop her from getting naked and sliding into the bathtub for some well deserved soaking though. That is, until she hears some strange noises and decides to investigate believing her brother might have snuck in while she was bathing. The boy on the bed hiding beneath the covers though…is not little Ricky.
Fast forward…once again. The year is 2005 and Alicia (Marisa Ramirez) and Joss (Travis Wester of Eurotrip) are on their way to visit Alicia’s parents. Problem is…they’re lost. That, of course, means they’re forced to stop in at the next town in order to ask for directions. The town in question is none other than Santa Bonita. Joss, doing more talking than driving, almost runs down a Mexican funeral procession while entering town and knocks the corpse from the coffin. Mourners scatter and run and to Alicia and Joss’s horror, the corpse is a living girl with her tongue cut out! Getting the girl to the hospital isn’t an option though as the car is busted up and won’t start. Deciding to get help from the police, Joss finds the town sheriff (David Keith) and brings him back to the accident for help. The sheriff is all too obliging to help out. Unfortunately, Joss and Alicia are stuck in town with no cars to rent or mechanics within 100 miles of Santa Bonita. They’re both forced to check into the local hotel.
Martia (Laura Harring), the hotel owner is rude and the strange old lady is still there after all these years building morbid little dioramas and hissing strange curses. Instead of hightailing it out of Dodge, Joss and Alicia decide to stay and fool around in their room. Bizarre things begin to occur and Joss finally breaks out the cellphone. Is it to call for help? Is it to call Alicia’s parents? Nope. He calls his best bud Tyler (Laz Alonso) and his shallow cheerleader girlfriend, Erica (Nichole Hiltz), and asks them to come out and visit.
When their friends arrive, they all decide to get a bit tipsy and eat a mysterious little loaf of bread with human bones in it. Bad things really kick into gear when they all awake to find Alicia missing and the streets crawling with the undead. They key to their survival lies somewhere locked away in the hotel. The question is…can he still be alive? What can I say about this film? It’s just so-so. Most of this film is just silly. The Whites find a woman scrubbing blood from the floor…and stay? Joss and Alicia decide to stay in the very town in which they foiled a cults attempt to sacrifice a girl without a tongue? Joss uses his cellphone to call…a friend?
I won’t even get into the incredibly inept and out-of-character stunt Erica pulls when trying to escape the hotel. You’ll have to see it to believe it. In my opinion, it’s on par with some of the stupidity in Boll’s House of the Dead. Lemme just say that sometimes Hong Kong style wire work is best left to martial arts films.The acting was definitely quite good and securing actors like Danny Trejo, Jeffrey Combs, David Keith and Travis Wester must have been quite a feather in Altman’s cap. Now if they could have been used in a zombie film worth two shits. Don’t get me wrong though…it wasn’t horrible. It just wasn’t…GREAT. It was just okay. There’s some interesting little story developments but nothing that threatens to make All Souls Day a cult classic.
The one and only shining light in this film was the amazingly beautiful Marisa Ramirez. Well, Marisa and the spectacular DVD release we’re given for this snoozer. It’s packed with cool extras and even a booklet made to resemble those wonderful Mexican scandal rags that feature gore and nudity! If you’re familiar with these mags you know what I’m talking about…great reads!
All in all, this is either going to be a love it or leave it zombie film. If you’re a sub-genre junky, you’ll see it and perhaps even enjoy it. If you prefer your horror to make a bit more sense than a 2nd year film student project, you might want to reconsider.