Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! Review
It's probably obvious that I am often on the side of the little guy. Reviewing films that everyone thinks are great, I often want to disagree with the majority view and say how much better a smaller, less well known film is. I'll put down the Dirty Dozen to praise Inglorious Bastards and I'll eulogise about a Takashi Miike Yakuza movie whilst having no interest in Scorsese or Coppola. The same thing is true with genre films and no genre is more dismissed than horror movies. Sure they're often cheap and dumb, but nothing gives cinematic thrills better than an unreliable film-maker trumping their little budget by splashing blood and flesh across the screen.
The modern template for cheap and good horror is of course Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead, but there exists also the Troma paradigm. Troma movies are one joke flicks which make up for incompetent writing, bad acting and poor production by making a virtue of these faults. It's a bit like that friend you have who is always trying to make you like him by telling you how crap he is - look I have just fallen over, look aren't I ugly and so on. As a one movie experience, Troma films can sometimes justify a drunken low quality evening in but they soon pale on subsequent nights.
Zombies, Zombies, Zombies would like to think it comes from the Raimi school of horror comedy because it tries to be clever and ironic. It is though a horror comedy that completely lacks fright or tension, and chooses to rely on encouraging the viewer to laugh at itself. It consciously tries to re-tread some of the ground that the Grindhouse double bill went over last year, by homageing cheapie horror and serving up babes and outrageous gore. It says something about the lack of quality of the former movies that it actually comes out about equal in the entertainment stakes as them, even if the production and performances can't match the antithetically polished standards of Rodrigues and Tarantino.
The story deals with a research scientist stumbling on a new drug which turns people into crack addled Zombies. Soon his mistake is stolen by a dealer and the streetwalkers are wolfing them down outside the local lap dancing parlour where newbie Harley is making a poor start to her life of stripping for rednecks. It all becomes a siege at the club with the lap dancers, a couple of likely lads and a pimp fighting for their lives.
Now this clearly involves a degree of tasteless bodily destruction using unconvincing digital effects and offcuts from the local butcher and I welcome the low rent approach to the gore. There are some splendid moments of perverse titillation including a messy Zombie blowjob, and a few pneumatic outbursts to please the intended adolescents in the audience. There is even a rather wonderfully silly moment of sacrifice that brings things to a conclusion, but outside of some style from Sean Harriman no one can act and the direction sucks more than a Dyson set on hardwood floor.
The spirit is clearly a good one and actually the writing sets a very good tone in its mix of cliché and dumbness, but the execution is all long takes, missed reaction shots, missed money shots and appalling framing. No actor performs as if they know what happened before the scene or where they are going next and many reasonable gags are killed by poor execution. As an idea, this is a really entertaining one but as a film you can spend all your time thinking how much better things could have been done.
These are almost first timers though, who shot it all using film students and untried actors and so that should redeem it right? Well no, because this movie ends up in the land of Troma where the hokeyness and camp hides the fact that it is done with minimal talent. I believe that the writer, Tony Giordano, will achieve more in his future films but he needs a better director who can actually work with actors and block scenes and plan sequences properly.
Zombies, Zombies, Zombies is a great idea and has some fine humorous thoughts behind it but the concept can't hide how poor the direction or the performances are. Viewed as a cinematic serving, its all parody trimmings and no meat.
Transfer and Sound
Shot on high definition video with plenty of grain apparent in this transfer, this treatment seems to be the same length as the R1 disc. This fact combined with a whole lot of combing and aliasing leads me to the thought that this is a standards conversion. This is never going to look beautiful though and given the over lit cinematography and cheap digital effects, a certain amount of roughness is forgiveable. The contrast is reliable, and the colours are as plastic and gaudy as the video shooting allows but there are plenty of compression artefacts.
The sound option is even less impressive with constant distortion, bad original recording and hum present in the stereo track. It never makes the dialogue unclear but it is a poor audio track for such a modern film. No subs at all.
Discs and Special Features
Presented on a single layer region locked disc, the main feature comes with a blooper reel which is really not the stuff of Dennis Norden's dreams. A shot of someone screwing their lines up is not inherently funny and six minutes of them is not time well spent.
The making of has cast and crew explaining how they enjoyed the film, and some of the film-making secrets revealed. The featurette is neither too interesting or populated by very intriguing people. The trailer is the final extra and it is much better than the finished film.
Drunken rental territory if you are new to it, if you already love it then the presumably better quality R1 disc may be the route for you.