A review by Robert Long II ©2010
Tagline: It’s Fighty Time!
Starring: Daniel Ross, Cory Okouchi, Carla Okouchi, P.J. Megaw, Dan Guy, Daniel Mascarello, Melissa McConnell, Tara Moore, Will Stendeback, and Ted Taylor
Special guest appearances by Joe Ripple, Leanna Chamish, and Eric Martin Strauss
Produced by Justin Timpane, Daniel Ross, Cory Okouchi, Will Stendeback, Mathius Mack Gertz, and Kelly Timpane
Music by Justin Timpane
Written, edited and directed by Justin Timpane
Plot: (as described on the IMDb) Seven friends, struggling with late 20s, early 30’s life, find themselves in terrifying danger when a long-dead loved one is magically resurrected and starts devouring souls. To make matters worse, three of them have been granted the power of the Ninja, and now must lead the fight against a power they cannot hope to vanquish. If they fail, the un-dead will overrun their little town, and quite possibly the world.
I sat down to watch this with fellow Smash or Trasher Mitch Klein for a movie night – and it is safe to say we came away impressed. We both know Daniel Ross and Justin Timpane as talented actors that have appeared in Timewarp Films productions, as well as several other independent movies. We knew they could act in their sleep; the question was – could they write and produce a feature film? Follow me as I take you down the road of this film.
The story: You have Randall (Dan Guy) a man that mourns the passing of his brother Eric (P.J. Megaw). One night – in the privacy of his comic book shop, Randall summons his brother back to life with the help of a book of magic. Let’s all say this together: NOT A GOOD IDEA! Yes, Eric comes back from the dead but he has come back evil. He now has the ability to suck the souls from others and leave them as flesh-craving zombies.
Randall does not realize that the people of his town are being attacked and turned to the dark side, until he himself contacts the spirit of the book. Through this spirit he finds that his actions have endangered all of those around him. He asks the book for help to defeat his evil, undead brother. The cryptic tome does so, but it has a demented sense of humor; it turns Randall’s three best friends into zombie killing ninjas. Go figure.
His three buddies (portrayed by actors Daniel Ross, Cory Okouchi, and Daniel Mascarello) discover their new found powers in various humorous ways, and are called to a meeting by Randall. After he confesses to them his royal screw up of bringing his brother back from the dead, they have little time to give him his lumps. Apparently Eric has been busy garnering his army of the un-dead, and at that moment they are converging on the house the heroes are in! That’s all I’m going to tell you; you have to discover the rest by watching it yourself.
Comedic elements: As a former stand up comedian, I will tell you this straight; comedy is a complete bitch to pull off successfully. Everyone would like to think that they are funny – they hope that the words and ideas that form in their minds and come out of their mouths are witty gems. Folks – 99% of the time this is NOT the case. I don’t have to look any further than the “movie” SKELETON KEY 2: 667 THE NEIGHBOR OF THE BEAST as proof of how unfunny a horror-comedy can be. Luckily NvsZ hits the nail on the head 90% of the time with the chuckles. The key is comedic delivery and comedic timing; this movie does both – in spades. An example of a great sequence is where the characters of Herman (Will Stendeback) and Eric sit down to eat breakfast before Eric kills Herman. This had me laughing out loud!
Acting chops: Justin Timpane unfortunately has only a cameo in this feature (he was behind the camera most of the time). For those of you that want to check out what a really good actor he is, rent or buy DEAD HUNT. Daniel Ross was his usual energetic ball of fire, and excelled in his part as the pizza delivery ninja. The surprise stand outs for me were Cory Okouchi and P.J. Megaw. Both of these gentlemen are completely embedded in their roles, and can play the fine line between comedy and drama with razor sharp accuracy. Every one of the lead actors does a solid job with their parts. Carla Okouchi, Melissa McConnell, and Tara Moore play well opposite their male counterparts.
Action sequences: This movie goes all out with fights, punches, kicks, flips, guns a-blazing, and battle royals. P.J. Megaw was one of the fight coordinators on the movie and does a tremendous job with his scenes opposite actors Okouchi and Guy. The swordplay is simply incredible and it must have been a miracle that no one got hurt on this shoot. You will not leave this movie feeling you got gypped on action; this feature oozes of it.
Special visual effects: Brian Anderson not only created the ultra-cool logo for this movie, but did the majority of the post production visual effects as well. Fire balls, plasma shots, soul-sucking, etc is done by this gent and he does it well! I give him extra props for including what so many visual artist forget to include – reactive lighting to the surroundings. Good stuff Brian!
Production values: You the reader are probably looking at the photos and saying to yourself “Oh no! Everything takes place in somebody’s backyard!” Not so. While one epic battle does take place in a character’s backyard, the production does get to all sorts of locations around town – including a martial arts studio, comic book shop and movie theater. “But wait, I’m not seeing any real pics where these guys are dressed as ninjas!” Fear not – they do get into their official uniforms in the last 3rd of the movie (in fact, the costume Daniel Mascarello ends up in is hysterical). Aside from a lighting glitch or two, the production values are top notch.
Special effects: Will Stendeback did a fair share of the physical effects for the movie, and they are quite good. The production went all out when it came to makeup, fake body parts and appendages to be sliced and diced, buckets of fake blood, and enough heavy weaponry in the form of knives and guns to keep any patriotic Marine happy.
Overall assessment: I only had a couple of areas I felt could be improved upon. One was the first initial scene between Herman and Eric. It felt a bit tacked on and could have used another polish in the script. The other is the music – now hear me out! The music is done by Justin Timpane and shows off his great skills as a composer. I only wish all the music had been original (I detected a cue or two from DEAD HUNT – another movie that Timpane scored). The characters – including Eric – are very likable. This is great because you care about their plight. This movie does hold some surprises; not everyone you think will survive – does. While this is jolting it says a lot about the writing and the acting. You come to like this bunch of people and you didn’t want to see anything bad happen to any of them. When it does – it hurts. It’s not all comedy people. There is a good mixture of drama and suspense as well.
Rating and bottom line: I give NINJAS VS ZOMBIES 9/10 throwing stars. Pre-order it. Watch it. Enjoy it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. The group is busy making their sequel NINJAS VS VAMPIRES. Watch that one as well when it comes out – you won’t be disappointed.
“Ninjas vs Zombies” is available for pre-order on the following sites: