I never know what I’m getting myself into when I dive into these streaming zombie titles with alluring poster art (the covers are usually always zombie perfection). This time around, the majority of selections proved to be unlike most zombie films out there, so let’s take a look.
ZOMBIELAND TALES (aka: Edges of Darkness) (2008)
Originally titled Edges of Darkness (better than the cash-in “Zombieland” attempt), this one is sort of a zombie anthology. There are three stories – presented in a back and forth fashion rather than consecutively – of different dilemmas various characters face during the zombie apocalypse. However, all three situations are unique to the genre in that they actually have more to do with supernatural happenings characters are dealing with on top of the zombie outbreak.
The bizarre plots combine with some excellent performances and some notable, gritty visuals capturing the spirit of classic zombie films to make this a highly watchable film. Even so, there’s an uneven tone, for certain aspects of the film look and feel like a typical lesser-quality low budget indie. But that doesn’t completely detract from how different Zombieland Tales is from the usual zombie flick.
Smartly, it has a strong opening for traditional zombie fans, with a grindhouse look, desolate streets, shuffling zombies, and plenty of gut-munching. Then we are introduced to the trio of odd plots: a bloodsucking couple trying to survive the zombie apocalypse; a man who is so obsessed with his computer and technology that it begins to literally consume him; and a young woman who rescues a young boy from zombie death only to find that there’s also a priest that seems to want him dead.
I’ll admit, I didn’t totally understand what exactly it all meant in the end, but that actually makes Zombieland Tales a film you think about after it’s over—and one you might want to give a second look once you know you should be going into it for more than just the usual mindless zombie fun.
THE DEAD UNDEAD (2010)
Pretty much everything about this zombie/vampire action indie is odd, which is why I had to give it a chance. In the end, it has its moments, but it’s so inconsistent I couldn’t fully stay with it.
The premise is that a militant band of vampires is hunting vampires that have been “infected” and are now “zombie vampires.” Weird, right? Well, it’s weirder than that.
We first meet a group of kids that comes to a cabin in the woods. This really feels like it’s going to be that kind of film. Within minutes, a crazy zombie vamp boy appears in the cabin, the kids freak out, and then they’re being attacked by a bunch of zombie vampires! Minutes later, the armed militant vamps show up and start blasting away these vicious, running, leaping zombie vamps! Kick ass opener for sure.
What little humans are left after the attack join the vampires to take down the zombie vamps, which is when The Dead Undead loses momentum. Sure, there are endless fighting scenes in the woods, complete with lots of gunfire and explosions, but it’s mostly filler that does nothing to propel the plot forward. And the nonstop, repetitious, hard rock instrumental soundtrack adds no nuance to the scenes. It’s not design to fit specifically with what’s happening on screen – like in a video game, it’s just background noise to make the action scenes seem cool and high energy, which gives the film that cheap indie feel.
On top of that, the film’s budget begins to show as we learn more about the militant vampires in cheesy flashbacks to other time periods. Cringe. Honestly, that really just killed it for me.
ZOMBIE DECADENCE (2012)
At some point, this Full Moon feature was renamed, because it’s listed on imdb as Zombies vs. Strippers. Yes, it’s another zombie movie in a strip club.
Surprisingly, it’s not as much of a piece of shit as Full Moon films have become in the 21st century. The first part sucks, with loads of boring, unfunny dialogue as strippers shake their T&A and the owner of the strip club whines about how bad business is.
Eventually, zombies start slowly infiltrating the club, as do a variety of quirky characters, and this becomes a better zomcom b-movie than I would expect Full Moon to be able to pull off. There’s loads of cheesy gore and zombie shenanigans relating to sex and naked people, plus the humor suddenly gets better.
Adding to the energy is the always-awesome horror daddy Brad Potts. This hunky papa deserves so much more recognition as a cheesy horror action hero.
Zombie Decadence delivers some original ideas but relies heavily on good old zombie clichés, including the “Brains!” shtick, as well as a Michael Jackson “Thriller” parody moment. Hey, it’s not the worse strip club zombie film I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quite a few, which I cover here.
THE ZOMBINATOR (2012)
Based on the title, the sky is the limit for how cheeselicious, exploitative, midnight movie trashy, or spooftacular this movie could be. The fact that it ultimately fails on every count and becomes an uneven mess is a bummer.
The Zombinator simply rambles on with no sense of what type of movie it’s trying to be. Essentially, two completely different movies collide into an uneven narrative. It begins as a found footage film that does at least do an okay job of mimicking all signature gimmicks of the genre. My poor attempt to follow the story has me thinking a bunch of kids filming a fashion documentary end up at a funeral. Suddenly, zombies crash the party – kind of cool that they just nonchalantly meander in – and the kids run and hide in a Catholic school. There, they meet a group of ghost hunters doing their own filming.
Together, the two groups pretty much just stand around waiting for zombies to shuffle over to them and attack one of them, prompting the rest of the kids to finally run off and hide in a different room to repeat the process. WTF?
40 minutes into the film, the kids run out of the school and The Zombinator appears! He herds them into the back of a truck, where a priest is waiting to make them pray. WTF?
Aside from one girl commenting that the hero looks like The Terminator, the kids are now a useless distraction in a completely different movie in which The Zombinator takes on baddies responsible for releasing the virus that caused the zombie infection, led by action film veteran Patrick Kilpatrick, who seems to get more sizzling daddy hot the older he gets.
The good guy and the villain have a variety of clashes to fill in the remainder of the film’s running time until The Zombinator finally wins the fight in an absurdly dramatic final scene.
There are actually a handful of funny and clever moments in the film, but you don’t get the sense that this is supposed to be a humorous movie, so it’s very easy to actually miss these highlights or taking them as bad moments in a serious film. Plus, the Zombinator comes into the film so late and is so understated as the main hero and onscreen presence that he feels like an afterthought. Honestly, if a little more effort were put into revising and streamlining The Zombinator in a better-focused remake, I’d give it a second chance.