It’s so satisfying to have a successful weekend of streaming, especially when it’s all within the same subgenre of horror—and even delivers some variety within that subgenre. That’s the case with this trio of zombie/infected flix I checked out: Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies, On The Brain, and What We Become. Nothing groundbreaking here, so I’ll make this quick, but each film definitely scratched my zombie itch.
ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES (2016)
This zombedy is super restrained, as if it fears turning slapstick. I felt like sound effects were missing or some rehearsal footage was used in the final cut, because the energy level seems too chill, almost like the very aspects that make it comedy were put on mute. I rarely ever laughed out loud, yet the film still has its charms.
During a public appearance at a ski resort in the mountains, a really cute professional snowboarder plays a naked prank (we get to see his tight little butt), and then hangs at a local bar with his crew. Within minutes, a zombie outbreak causes chaos!
This is zomcom lite, with only a few standout moments, including a bear trap scene, the zombies attempting to handle the snowy terrain, and death by ski poles.
The likeable cast makes the movie work (as does the mere 75-minute running time), and the final battle scene goes all 80s throwback with a fast-paced synth score, the leading man snowboarding his way through the zombies, and the local bar owner getting out the heavy artillery: a snow blower.
Sure, it’s no Shaun of the Dead, but I had enough fun with this one to add it to my DVD collection.
ON THE BRAIN (2016)
This one has a noticeably low budget indie feel, but the simplicity of the plot works within those constraints, as does the small town setting. Plus, the limited number of infected have a good “zombie” look with a literal “worm” in their brain, so the horror aspect is pretty impressive.
What at first seems like an isolated incident of domestic abuse soon turns into something more ominous when several similar cases of violence against women occur.
The very cute new sheriff in town and his doctor girlfriend intend to find out why men are suddenly going insane.
On The Brain is a pretty fresh take on the infected genre, exploring traditional gender roles against the backdrop of small town life, and how they are magnified by the “infection.” Just as positions of power—the mayor, a doctor, local business owners—are being filled by women, the men begin to turn on them, reminding us of antiquated male/female roles.
For instance, a woman being relentlessly pursued by her man as she cowers in a truck with a weapon makes for a great horror scene, yet it plays out disturbingly like an abuse situation. She knows him, she trusts him, and she begs him to stop, screaming, “I don’t want to hurt you!” And because she loves him, she doesn’t hurt him…so you can imagine how that turns out.
But On The Brain eventually shifts tone, big time. A former love interest of the sheriff’s arrives on the scene like some over-the-top, 80s nighttime soap vixen. You kind of have to go with it if you want to continue enjoying the movie, because suddenly, everything about it feels just like a cheesy 80s horror flick. This may very well be intentional, since focus shifts away from the male sheriff as the hero and onto the vixen teaming up with her archenemy…the sheriff’s doctor girlfriend. Once the film changes course jarringly, their teaming up actually saves it from being a total disappointment.
WHAT WE BECOME (2015)
This Danish “infected” flick is a traditional zombie flick….eventually. At first, it’s kind of like the first season of Fear The Walking Dead meets Disturbia.
A cute young man is just going about his life rebelling against his handsome dad and spying on the pretty new girl that moved in across the street when the news reports of an infectious disease that has begun to spread.
There’s an early zombie attack tease, and then all the houses on the family’s street are totally quarantined by guys in Hazmat suits! It’s mostly character development for 45 minutes, with the exception of the son doing the typical stupid thing of sneaking out of the house to see the girl he likes.
But when the first zombie comes a knockin’, it’s classic! Even so, the family and some neighbors continue to build character until the 66-minute mark, when they attempt to leave the house.
Essentially, the film only runs 80 minutes long without closing credits, so all the traditional zombie clichés take place in 14 minutes, but it’s done quite effectively and intensely, making this one a good modern take on the original Romero formula.