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Z-O-M-B-I-E-S (DVD Review)

The Disney Channel most recently has been riding high off of the smashing success of its The Descendants movies. Those felt of a certain “passing of the torch” from the High School Musical films that came in the decade prior. Now, while I’m sure a third Descendants film is in the works and around the corner, we have something in a similar vein but different to take in; ZOMBIES! This one features a society allowing the undead to attend school after years of coexistence. I’m sensing some clever social commentary for a good, fun singing and dancing educational lesson, Disney. You’ll be able to own a physical copy of the latest Disney Channel event when it comes to the 22 year old DVD format only at the end of the month, April 24th.

Film 

Disney’s “ZOMBIES” is a music- and dance-filled story set in the fictitious world of Seabrook, a cookie-cutter community brimming with perky conformity 50 years after a zombie apocalypse. Today, the zombies pose no threat, but are required to live in Zombietown, an isolated, rundown community infused with their unique creative spirit. When zombies are finally allowed to enroll in Seabrook High School, the charming, charismatic zombie Zed, who is determined to play football, meets freshman Addison who dreams of being a cheerleader — the ultimate form of status in Seabrook. Addison takes a lot of flak for befriending Zed and his zombie friends, but comes to learn that zombies and cheerleaders aren’t so different after all. Zed and Addison work together to show Seabrook what they can achieve when they embrace their differences and celebrate what makes them a community.

So yeah, this is pretty much The Descendants with Zombies. Some of the sets even look the same and redressed for the movie. This one really digs into the personal aspects of the themes brushed on in The Descendants of accepting people for who they are. Whereas The Descendants was not judging children by the crimes or actions of the parents/ancestors, Zombies straight up has a story about segregation and learning to coexist with one another and not be bothered by stupid biases based on appearances.

Zombies tells this tale in younger-all ages way of things. Its full of the big choreography and broad pop numbers that carry its story. Now, in terms of the music, this stuff isn’t my bag. I’ll just have you know though that my six year old and three year old were up and bouncing up and down along with the movie trying to mimic the movies and sing lyrics to songs they don’t know. From my personal experience, I’d say that the film’s musical numbers worked to good success.

You can’t really go hard on the movie either, its made-for-TV. Costuming finds something effective and then manufactures it across the board. But, its a movie with some spunk, energy and attitude. It doesn’t offer much for the adults, but I’ll fully endorse it for kids and pre-teens. Disney has a formula that’s really working and in waiting for another Descandants film to be done, this is a really good holdover, but a fine one on its own.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-2 NTSC

Resolution: 480i

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: DVD-9

Clarity/Detail: You could watch this in HD right now on the Disney Channel, so why not put it out on Blu-ray? Woof. Well, this DVD is about as good in terms of video quality as you’re going to get. Colors do pop pretty well without any bleeding issues, and the image is bold enough and more texture than you’d expect.

Depth:  Of course this is on the flatter end of performance, but given the format, you know that. Movements are pretty solid and there aren’t really any interlacing issues during the dance sequences like there coudl ahve been.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty decent for a DVD and the crushing is pretty light and not very distracting at all.

Color Reproduction: The film features a lot of vivid and pastel colors that really try to lift off the screen as much as they can. Greens and pinks shine to their limits in a a pretty nice palette of the two colors.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural or white-faced zombie and maintain a consistency all the way to the end. Facial details only show any real texture in closeups if anything.

Noise/Artifacts:  Its pretty light on your typical DVD issues, though they are present.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: I have to say, this 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is actually pretty impressive. Don’t snooze on it. There are some moments that honestly had me on my toes and surprised with what I was hearing emanating from the back channels and the creativity with which sound traveled. There balance is well done. For a DVD, you’re not getting any better than this.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer hits pretty good and does well in things like the football game and of course the songs and the score hit pretty deep.

Surround Sound Presentation: There are some really nice surprises in this mix coming from unique sounds in the rear channels and ones that do travel up to the front. While its not lossless, the details here in the mix are pretty well thought out and active.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and surprisingly crisp. Dialogue to singing is pretty seamless in terms of volume.

Extras 

Bloopers (SD, 3:35) 

Deleted Scenes (SD, 1:42)

Audition Tapes (SD, 1:52) – Milo Manheim, Meg Donnelly

The Zombie Survival Guide To High School (SD, 2:06) – This piece uses a visual motif of a Zombie Survival Guide, with styled infographics and hosted by the talent.  They go down the list of some of the most important survival tips for Zombies and humans on how to get along and make the best of high school.

Music Videos

  • “BAMM” (SD, 3:22)
  • “BAMM” Lyric Video  (SD, 3:05)

Dance Tutorial (SD, 3:20) – Join Meg Donnelly (Addison), Kylee Russell (Eliza) and ZOMBIES Choreographer, Christopher Scott, as they show you how to dance along to the ‘BAMM” Music Video.

Original Trailers (SD, 3:34)

Summary 

Disney’s Zombies does what it does very well for its intended audience. Its kinda adorable in a way and admirable in the message its trying to promote. The downside is that this is a sharp and colorful movie stuck on the DVD format in 2018. It offers some decent extras that actually are kinda useful (Teaching dance moves? Cool!). If you don’t get the Disney Channel or you need this for the road or you just love your kids, pick this up for them!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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