Zone of The Dead is a Serbian zombie film from 2009 that appears to so bad that it was released quickly on DVD in 2010, having undergone a name change to Apocalypse of The Dead. A group of officials are charged with transporting a prisoner cross country to be transferred to Britain. Unfortunately, they end up being holed up in a police station, surrounded by the local population who have been turned into flesh-eating zombies after the release of a green mist that was being transported by train during part of a “military exercise”. What follows is a standard by-the-numbers zombie film that isn’t helped by the fact that the majority of the cast do not have English as their first language and either speak their (English) dialogue badly or don’t even try to deliver their lines in English and have to have their lines dubbed (badly). Into this mix is added Italian-born composer Stefano Caprioli who comes up with a rock-based soundtrack full of pulsing percussion and grungy guitars that adds an energy to the film that the actors fail to generate. But the price for this energy is that the score perhaps lacks the thematic material a listener might hope to hear. (From a zombie movie?)
The album opens with an interesting rhythm-based track (“Danger”) that’s predominantly built around a short motif that gets the full grungy guitar treatment. This relatively short cue (it is the shortest of the score clocking in at just over 2 minutes) is made up of short sections of the motif being played by various instruments: a low synthy sound, the grungy guitar, grungy guitar and adrenaline-fuelled drum kit, a short ambient section, etc. These sections are all joined together to form the cue. This arrangement of apparently stitching together small segments of music is repeated throughout the album. This gives the overall feel of the album as being a series of library cues from which the film-makers can select the appropriate music. Need a energetic rock-based piece that’s got loads of guitar to cover a fight sequence? Sure: here’s a piece at the beginning of “Energy” that should do. Need the music instead with an emphasis on drums? No problem: “Escape” has a short section that you can use. Want some quiet, emotional sounding music with acoustic guitar? The latter half of “When I Think About You” will do the trick. Although these tracks seem to be lots of ideas joined together, the actual music in the segments and how they are put together are actually quite interesting to listen to.
The last couple of tracks – “Zombies” and “Zone of The Dead (Reprise)” – stand out from the rest of the album in that they ditch the high-energy music for something more akin to an actual film score. “Zombies” could be mistaken for almost having a theme. Angelic synth voices introduces a memorable riff on guitar (electric) that gets repeated and expanded upon, giving the cue an end credits sort of a feel. The presence of what sounds like a cimbalom is a welcome bit of colour to an otherwise pretty static score in terms of variety of sound. The final (and longest) track, “Zone of The Dead (Reprise)”, betrays the film’s Balkan origins with the use of a female vocal (sung by Antonella Bianchi) that’s reminiscent of something out of Michal Lorenc’s Bandyta. It’s definitely a highlight and is a good tonic for the fast-paced energy of the rest of the score. Caprioli’s music is pretty standard stuff but it is interesting enough to keep the attention. Perhaps being limited by the film-makers to produce these short library music-like segments, Caprioli manages to create music that is worth hearing – particularly the last couple of tracks – and it is all knitted together into a reasonable listening experience. I have a feeling that the music is a lot better than then film. Zone of The Dead can be found at several online digital stores.
Audio samples can be found HERE and then click on blue arrow next to running time for samples of entire album or individual tracks.
- Danger (2:16)
- Railway (6:08)
- Energy (3:28)
- When I Think About You (5:17)
- Escape (3:06)
- Final Fightin’ (3:18)
- Zombies (4:01)
- Zone of The Dead (Reprise) (6:16)
Running Time: 33:54
WMI Italy (2011)