A zombie comedy that knocks 'em dead with offbeat genre-ribbing humor, "Night of the Living Dorks" is a high- school-set romp that could pass for an American flick if the dialogue were in English. Pic is a guilty pleasure whose title accurately conveys the silly, irreverent tone. Fests with latenight sidebars or a youngish clientele can't go wrong.

A zombie comedy that knocks ‘em dead with offbeat genre-ribbing humor, “Night of the Living Dorks” is a high- school-set romp that could pass for an American flick if the dialogue were in English. Pleasingly imaginative within the parameters of the form, pic is a guilty pleasure whose title accurately conveys the silly, irreverent tone. Fests with latenight sidebars or a youngish clientele can’t go wrong with this.

Opening scene, set in Haiti, shows a textbook zombie getting blasted to smithereens by an angry islander, then reduced to ashes in an urn. Three months later that urn makes its way to Germany and the denizens of Frederich Nietzsche High School.

Philip (Tino Mewes) lives with his parents across the street from Rebecca (Collien Fernandes), a pretty lass into Goth trappings. (“Death, decay and wearing black is my thing right now, OK?”)

Philip’s two best friends are fearless hotshot Weener (Manuel Cortez) and Konrad (Thomas Schmieder), a geek who gets beaten up so regularly he keeps spare eyeglasses in his satchel.

After making a presentation on the Undead in class, the Goth contingent of Rebecca and two male pals performs a makeshift voodoo ritual in the local cemetery during which the zombie ashes splatter Philip, Weener and Konrad.

When the three young men plow into a tree they wake up dead. While a taste for human flesh is problematic, it’s cool having superhuman strength and being impervious to pain when it comes to trouncing the school’s rich preppies at rugby.

Suddenly Philip is attractive to blonde goddess Uschi (Nadine Germann), the class babe. But the undead dorks will need Rebecca’s help to undo the spell and return to human form.

Gross-out humor is mostly on the sweet side — despite creative use of a staple gun to reattach certain body parts — and the script boasts an appealing level of invention right though the frantic finale. Clean, unfussy lensing and a smattering of special effects add up to a tight tech package. Musical score is just right.

Night Of The Living Dorks

Germany

Production

A Constantin Film presentation of a Hofmann & Voges Entertainment, Constantin Film production. (International sales: Hofmann & Voges Entertainment, Munich.) Produced by Philip Voges, Mischa Hofmann. Directed, written by Mathias Dinter.

Crew

Camera (color), Stephan Schuh; editor, Connie Strecker; music, Andreas Grimm; art director, Florian Lutz; sound, Quirin Bohm. Reviewed on videotape at Chicago Film Festival (Late Night), Oct. 12, 2005. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Tino Mewes, Collien Fernandes, Manuel Cortez, Thomas Schmieder, Nadine Germann.
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