Night of the Living Jews DVD Review
Written by Robert Gold
Written and Directed by Oliver Noble
2008, Region 1 (NTSC), 21 minutes, Not rated
Sierra DeCrosta as Sally
Nate Earl as John Liebowitz
Phillip Levine as Papa
Alexandra Angeloch as Mama
Adam Forrest as James
When poisoned matzo turns normally docile Jews into raving Hasidic zombies, a Gentile family must work together to keep the Hebrew menace from converting their farmhouse into a slaughterhouse. With an arsenal of stereotypes and catchy one-liners, the family welcomes a mysterious stranger to help in their battle against the zombie plague.
After suffering through countless short films looking for a suitable title to add to the library, my reserve of micro-budget love was running dangerously low. In desperation I turned to a film I had heard internet rumblings about for some time. By looking deeper into the low budget wasteland, I tracked down a rare shining jewel in a landscape littered with the corpses of painfully amateur efforts. Oliver Noble's Night of the Living Jews offers something few titles have delivered…entertainment.
The talent in this production is refreshing. Nothing immediately stands out as a sour element and the production values are unexpectedly high. The acting is strong, the look is fantastic and the script is enjoyable. It is difficult to say if the kitschiness is deliberate or if the filmmakers are working hard to compensate for shortcomings. The script is not the strongest element, yet the dialogue is highly quotable. The cast delivers what is needed and play well off each other. The head of the family (Phillip Levine) is especially entertaining as a man concerned for his loved ones, and consumed with visions of vengeful payos (the Hasidic curls.)
The film is engaging from the very first images. Sam Falconi's excellent cinematography creates a beautiful style that sets the tone without hesitation. Director Noble keeps the pace brisk and the jokes rampant. The direct influences are equal parts Raimi and Romero, while enjoying a riff on the schlock classics of the 1950s. Equally enjoyable is Danny Blume's score that gives a steady dose of campy fun throughout.
I have made much of the joy I received watching this title. Is this a perfect movie? Of course not, but it was a satisfying viewing experience. I can easily recommend watching this 20-minute short with friends any night of the week — and not just for Passover.
Video and Audio:
The technical presentation on this DVD is surprisingly strong. The picture receives a sharp transfer that excels at showcasing Sam Falconi's cinematography. The strong contrast levels push the depth of rich solid blacks. The 2-channel stereo surround mix is very impressive. Dialogue is clear (John's dubbing is quite obvious) and never obscured by the aggressive music and effects tracks.
The supplements begin with a thoroughly engaging commentary track from Noble. He vows to keep the information speedy and helpful to independent filmmakers. The track takes a nice turn, and later features an extended remix of the theme for your dancing pleasure. Next is a "too hot for the internet" video that features girls and dreidels. A short ad for (DVD producer) HEEB Magazine is equally entertaining. Supplements are rounded off with a trailer and the thoughtfully-supplied rules to a drinking game.
Night of the Living Jews is an unexpected treat that knows how to entertain without overstaying its welcome. The work serves as a calling card for Noble and Falconi, and I look forward to their next offering.
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