2 1/2 Stars
While I thought Knight of the Dead was more of a gimmick than a masterfully planned out motion picture, I did get the entertainment value out of it that I was expecting for a B movie. Everything about the flick is just okay. There’s nothing in here that’s great, but on the other end there’s nothing in here that’s horrible. Some will call me crazy for saying that, but you’ll find they aren’t fans of B movies in the first place. After classing up the cinematography on many of The Asylum’s films, director/writer/cinematographer Mark Atkins continues doing the impossible with very little.
Knight of the Dead is obviously a play on Night of the Living Dead, and the gimmick should be fairly obvious as well. The movie centers on a group of knights during the times of the crusades. They are escorting The Holy Grail when they come across a valley of darkness. Playing on the well-known black death of the period, the writer’s switch it out with zombies. Add in a mix of strange evil priests hunting down the crusading knights and these guys have found a valley rife with problems. Will they survive the journey through the harrowing land?
Knight falls flat in several key areas, most notably script and special effects. The acting is there, although the script and dialogue aren’t incredibly complementary to the actors. A good example of this is the big bad Calon, played by George McCluskey. I think McCluskey did a fine job in the role, but the role itself was underutilized. Calon is the leader of the evil priests who reside in the valley. The knights kill one of the priests who’s trying to rape a woman, thus bringing on the wrath of Calon. But throughout the majority of the film Calon is simply following them, getting closer and closer until the end when he finally catches up to them. During this time the knights have run into the zombies, which are running around the countryside for what seems like no reason. Again the zombies were underutilized, not to mention some of the makeup on the living dead left a lot to be desired. It made these aspects seem more like filler than actually important parts of the story. If you’re making a zombie movie, and especially if you’re playing off the title of the mother of all zombie movies, then you really need to focus in on them in a big way.
After the first act it becomes apparent that this film exists simply to exist. A great idea for a gimmick, but ultimately not realized enough before shooting began. That being said Atkins cinematography at this level of B movie spectacle still looks amazing. Unfortunately every frame looks exactly the same and gives the movie a one note appearance and feel. A few of the action sequences are well-directed, but most of the scenes are a bit of a bore due to the flat script. Knight of the Dead is a nice film to blank out to, with Atkins track record his next directorial outing should be good. i quite enjoyed his last mock-buster Jack the Giant Killer.
Director: Mark Atkins
Stars: Feth Greenwood, Dylan Jones, Lee Bennett, George McCluskey