Rise of the Dead (2007)

Though there is no such thing as karma in real life, yet there is plenty of it in the movies. In a typical movie, the good are rewarded and the evil punished, each to the extent that they deserve. In some cases, however, movie karma goes a little overboard, and people are punished way in excess of what little faults they may have, and that is what we have in Rise of the Dead.

When the movie starts, a couple is having dinner, with the husband, Sam Sherman (Patrick Pope), saying grace. He makes a semi-blasphemous remark about how God let their baby die. Uh oh. Sure enough, he must be punished, and the instrument of death is his own wife, Sally (Brooke Delaney). She goes all zombie on him and kills him with a fork. Zombies don’t usually use weapons, however, so this is our first clue that this is not your typical zombie flick.

Actually, just before the baby died, Sam and Sally were having an argument. He criticized her for not changing the diaper on the stinking baby, and she said it was his turn to do his part and change the diaper himself. So, maybe that’s it. Sam is being punished for sexism, imagining that diaper changing is woman’s work.

But there’s more. Sam had left his pistol on the table where the baby could get to it. As a result, while Sam and Sally are arguing, the baby puts the barrel in his mouth and pulls the trigger. And thus we have to wonder if Sam was punished for being negligent in leaving a handgun around where a baby could get to it.

It turns out that the baby was adopted, and the baby’s birth mother, Laura Childs (Erin Wilk), is being besieged by zombies, whom she manages to fight off or, in some cases, kill with the help of her boyfriend Jack (Stephen Seidel) or Sheriff Brown (Peter Blitzer). Her roommate gets killed, probably punishment for making a move on Jack. A sheriff’s deputy is killed as punishment for being a jerk. And so on. When her own mother turns on her and is put in an insane asylum, Laura notices that Sally Sherman, whom she knows to be the adoptive mother of her baby, is also a patient. Laura slips into her room, and Sally tells her that the baby’s ghost is inhabiting people as a way of inflicting punishment on those who wronged him, and Laura is big on his list of those on whom he wants to inflict vengeance.

You’d think Laura would get credit for having the baby and giving it up for adoption instead of aborting it the way her previous boyfriend wanted all along. Well, said previous boyfriend does get punished for that, right after the ghost baby inhabits the body of the woman he was bitch-banging and lets him have some axe in the face. But Laura still did her baby wrong by not keeping him, so he is still after her as his main target.

Somewhere along the way, we find out that a fanatical Christian couple were the baby’s first adoptive parents, and when Child Protective Services took the baby away, this first adoptive mother cursed it. Actually, the movie is thick with Christianity, and we regularly see crucifixes hanging on the walls of the rooms of different characters in the film. And thus it is that while ghost baby is going around wreaking death on those who wronged him, we sort of get the feeling that some of these people are being punished for excess of religion.

Anyway, Laura’s mother escapes from the insane asylum, and, finding Laura at home, tells her that the ghost baby just wants to be with his mother. But then ghost baby inhabits Laura’s mother again, and Laura has to handcuff her to the oven. Then Jack comes over, and he gets possessed by the ghost baby too.

But now Laura knows what ghost baby really wants. She tells him to come to Mommy, lays him on the floor and has sex with him. So, spiritually speaking, she has sex with her own son, through the body of her boyfriend, resulting in impregnation. Talk about returning to the womb. Anyway, it does the job. Ghost baby is satisfied and he waits inside his mother to be reborn. Presumably, she intends to keep the baby this time.

It looks as though everything has ended happily, but I have to wonder what movie karma thinks about incest.

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