Since George Romero unleashed “Night of the Living Dead” on the world back in 1968, the horror genre has fully embraced zombies with a fervor. Unfortunately, there also seems to be only a finite number of ways to update the monster as a whole. Director and screenwriter Keith Wright has managed the impossible, however, with his film “Harold’s Gone Stiff”.
Harold Gimble (Stan Rowe) is a mild-mannered man who becomes the first person in the world to be infected with “Onset Rigors Disease”, a degenerative condition that turns its victims into brainless zombies. Unlike later cases- only males are affected- where the transformation happens fairly quickly, Harold’s case seems to be taking a bit longer and resembles more like a case of arthritis, and scientists want to know why. Cue the experiments! While being a lab guinea pig, Harold meets a young nurse named Penny (Sarah Spencer) who not only befriends him, but is even helping to reverse some of the symptoms of ORD. Too bad that this friendship- and budding romance- is not being accepted by everyone. A trio of vigilantes calling themselves “Protectors” are set on ridding the world of anyone with ORD-like symptoms, putting Harold and Penny both in danger.
This is a good change from the usual zombie flick, which tends to focus on how the diseased/undeads are bringing society to a halt by feeding on the living. There’s plenty of humor, as well as plenty of action, and you’re left with the feeling that you really want Harold and Penny to win. Wright did well with this story.
“Harold’s Going Stiff” is now available on DVD.