Love Bite is a new zombie short from filmmaker Charles de Lauzirika (Crave) and his wife, actress/producer Carlee Baker (The Woman, Robot Chicken, Collection Complete series). And a love letter to zombie flicks of the past it most definitely is. It’s also a film focusing on the never-ending “battle of the sexes”, done zombie-style.
Nancy (Baker) and her significant other, George (Cuyle Carvin of The Walking Dead) are on the run from flesh-eating zombies and with them is their little dog. Taking a pit-stop to breathe and perhaps catch a few winks, this threesome holds up for one night in a tall and secure truck. But being on the run for at least 10 months this couple finds themselves at odds in these close quarters– with a new “challenge” of sorts, to finally determine who’s right. This back and forth offers up fresh issues to overcome in this zombie apocalypse.
Love Bite is a perfect mirror with which to see ourselves in the world’s current situation.
How timely is this “my partner’s getting on my nerves” idea? We’re all stuck inside during this pandemic (alas, not zombie – sheesh) and there’s no doubt that patience is wearing thin and every little idiosyncrasy of your significant other blows up into something greater than it is. So imagine what the stress a zombie outbreak and a for-real end of the world might put on an already fragile relationship. “Zombie danger? Who cares? I hate your friggin’ guts!”
I’ve reviewed Baker’s fine acting work before in Jonathan Martin’s Creatures of White Chapel and her work here is a nice addition to her resume. Nancy is pretty no-nonsense and “bossy”. Baker hits those sarcastic notes perfectly, but also brings a soft authenticity to her character as things shift in the film’s final reels. Carvin’s work opposite Baker is perfectly matched. They have a genuine chemistry, even though the characters are ready to go to great lengths to illustrate their displeasure with one another.
Any zombie aficionado (George Romero specifically) will find joy in a few of the short’s many Easter eggs and homages to the Romero Dead universe.
The lead “drooler” (as they’ve been so christened in the film) is played by actor Toddrick Thomas. Both his physical appearance as well as the makeup applied to properly “deaden” him offer a more than passing resemblance to Eugene Clark’s “Big Daddy” in Romero’s 2005 release, Land of the Dead.
In addition, this particular “drooler” wears a football jersey, sporting the number 68. A reference to the release date of the original Night of the Living Dead? Perhaps.There’s also a prominent zombie in Romero’s 1985 release, Day of the Dead, who wears a football jersey/helmet. Why, there’s even the use of the track “I’m a Man”, most recognizable from the National Guard montage of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.
Make-up effects and all other technical components are masterful. It’s a tight film, shot beautifully and once the characters are inside the truck, there’s a lovely and pressing sense of claustrophobia.
My only reservation about the film is rather nit-picky, but I believe the inclusion of at least one heartfelt moment (these two clearly had happiness once upon a time) between George and Nancy, would have done wonders to completely connect the audience. As is, their constant infighting and insults keep the drama/humor at basically one level. Yes, they’re bickering and in between a rock and a hard place, thus niceties are at a premium. But something more than an attempted “seduction” to offer up a past sense of goodness and love would have been welcome.
With a brisk pace, strong performances and lots of “blink and you’ll miss ‘em” Romero references, Love Bite is a mighty enjoyable zombie romp, in just 17 minutes.
Charles de Lauzirika and Carlee Baker share writing credit for Love Bite which is currently doing quite well on the festival circuit.