“STAKE LAND,” releases on Blu-ray and DVD on August 2. It is a must-see zombie movie, during a time when the zombie genre has blossomed above and beyond what you would have thought possible a few years ago. This movie is smart, put together by a couple of serious filmmakers who happen to love horror in all its forms: the creative duo of director Jim Mickle and co-writer and actor Nick Damici. They’ve taken things to a new level since their debut, “MULBERRY STREET,” another zombie movie, set in New York’s Lower East Side.

For “Stake Land,” the action moves to the hinterlands, after the collapse of America, in an apocalyptic wasteland reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s “THE ROAD.” The idea of the movie originated with a series of webisodes, created by Damici, about a guy teaching a kid how to kill vampires. Given a chance to develop, the promising videos took shape into a movie. Mister, played by Damici, is the mentor to the kid, Martin, played by Conor Paolo. When they’re not killing vamps, the two are on a quest to find what they hope is safety, New Eden. Along the way, they team up with a few others but danger is always just a few steps away. When it’s not vamps, it might be members of The Brotherhood to worry about.

In the end, “Stake Land” is a story about survival much in the style of “THE WALKING DEAD,” which is saying a lot considering that is the gold standard these days for this sort of thing. The movie has its share of blood letting and all out violence but it also provides that necessary texture and structure for a really scary horror movie. There are nicely done long passages through abandoned farms and cornfields, thoughtful interactions between characters and overall well-paced storytelling. The zombies are a little different, a cross between vampires and zombies, a little more animated than zombies, who growl like dogs. While there’s nothing really new here, the vibe to this movie is fresh. It’s a zombie movie where zombies can go straight to hell, but a girl can still meet a boy and hope for a kiss.


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