GRAVEYARD ALIVE: A ZOMBIE NURSE IN LOVE (Elza Kephart). 80 minutes. Opens Friday (July 8) at the Royal. For times, see page 98. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Graveyard Alive announces itself as a zombie movie parody, thus dooming itself from the get-go, because you cannot parody a zombie movie. Go for grotesque exaggeration and all you get is a better zombie movie. Underplay and you get a dull one.
Graveyard Alive goes for understatement. There's lots of zombie potential in the plot: a frumpy nurse ( Anne Day-Jones ) gets bitten by a zombie and turns into an irresistible sex kitten who very slowly spreads the virus by biting, which gets her a job and an allegedly hunky doctor ( Karl Gerhardt ) and puts her hated rival in the loony bin. But almost none of its potential is realized.
Few classic zombie movie tropes are parodied here. Rather, there's a prissy avoidance of graphic sex, violence and gore, and when those elements do emerge, they're clumsily staged and acted.
Also, you can't parody something without actually being funny, and this is where Graveyard Alive really dies. The verbal humour is non-existent. The visual humour peaks with repeated shots of the inappropriately placed shadow of a slow-turning fan. Very feeble, especially in a genre in which the bar is set by the likes of Airplane, Young Frankenstein and Scream.
The film does have beautiful black-and-white 40s noir-style photography. You can spend a lot of time admiring it, in those long stretches when there's nothing else to do.