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The Terror Experiment


Rod Lott April 20th, 2012

Not like TV's The Walking Dead is perfect, but its mainstream success on a weekly in-season basis has spoiled viewers, thus ruining many zombie movies. It has raised a bar that most only could hope to come close to clearing. But even without the show, efforts like The Terror Experiment likely would find no love.


This one takes place in a federal building on Christmas Eve. (For a federal building on Christmas Eve, the place sure is packed.) A terrorist manages to infiltrate security enough to bring in a bomb, which he detonates on the fifth floor. (The explosion's aftershocks are depicted via tilted, shaking camera.)

The airborne agent gets into the ventilation system and is circulated in the floors below — daycare included — turning all who inhale it into zombies. Those in the floors above are lucky enough to avoid the gas, but now must figure out how to get out alive. (Maybe this wasn't the best thing to have watched inadvertently on the 17th anniversary of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing.)

Zombies let loose in a high-rise building? It's a great concept, wonderfully executed with thrills and chills ... in Demons 2, a reigning cult favorite from 1986. This failed Experiment reeks of made-for-Syfy standards, which is to say a purposeful lack of, especially in the story and acting departments.

Amateurs abound, but also several worthy C- and D-listers, including bespectacled lead Jason London (fresh from the Tulsa-lensed The Lamp), Robert Carradine, Judd Nelson, Lochlyn Munro as a fireman, and C. Thomas Howell, more or less playing a lawman the same way he did in the recent Camel Spiders: with a self-knowing wink, but without the relative fun of the arac war.

I commend director George Mendeluk for making the picture as literally colorful as he could; various gel lights and saturation lend it a coat of visual class, especially on a small budget. That doesn't make the dull movie any more palatable, however. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Camel Spiders Blu-ray review 
The Lamp interview with Louis Gossett Jr.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray review 

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