It’s so unfortunate that the zombie genre has been absolutely decimated by overkill. I miss the days (aka: the 1970s and 1980s) when living dead films were so rare that when a new one finally rolled around it was totally satisfying. Now we are bombarded by rehashes, remakes, reboots, rip-offs, desperate attempts at unique approaches, and trashy comedy spoofs. Sooooo…let’s get into the four I fought to get through this time.
Z: A ZOMBIE MUSICAL (2007)
Add this one to the list of zombie musicals that just don’t work for me. Within minutes I knew it was too much of a trashy, Troma-esque mess for my tastes…so I kept watching. What can I say? The theme was offensive enough for me to kind of appreciate the campy, raunchy silliness for a while.
After being bitten by a zombie dog, three naked, singing nuns are welcomed into Zomburbia, where there’s singing, dancing, sex, men in drag, lesbianism—the debauchery is delightful, and I appreciate that people are still willing to put their hearts into creating these types of low budget comedies.
However, these are also the types of films that I feel lose their edge quickly. They go on too long and go nowhere in the process. It’s just endless absurdity, forgettable spoof songs, and bad dance numbers. And in this case, a ridiculous take on the zombie genre.
While I can give the film credit for trying to capture the feel of trashy John Waters era films, just as I was thinking “at least they’re not resorting to fart humor”, the farts began to fly. If fart humor tickles your sphincter, then perhaps this is the level of film that’s right up your alley. For me, even a visit to a church with an S&M club in the basement and plenty of man wiener couldn’t fix the fact that this one grows stale before the halfway mark.
MY UNCLE JOHN IS A ZOMBIE (2016)
John Russo, writer of the original Night of the Living Dead, writes and co-directs this farce about Uncle John, a zombie that has regained his human faculties and is both a hero to the liberal left and a horror to the conservative right. It’s one of many reminders that Russo should have just spent the past fifty years riding the wave of his original masterpiece instead of trying to create anything new.
Very little of the comedy is funny in this thinly connected montage of scenes telling the story, from TV interviews to sponsorship ads Uncle John scores as he becomes the poster child for zombie rights. He is also targeted by red neck hunters, a woman who believes zombies are fakes, and an extremist reverend that thinks zombies are worse than gay people.
Even with all the unveiled attempts at social and political commentary, the takeaway for me was that Uncle John still has his sex drive—a joke the film keeps falling back on.
Tiffany Shepis cashes a paycheck as a news reporter, Lloyd Kaufman gets his stink on the film in a brief appearance with Toxie, and not surprisingly, there’s fart humor right after his appearance.
Why do terrible films like this keep getting made? I’ll just never understand it. And I’ll never understand why I actually have movies of this variety in my horror collection. I seriously think it’s time to clean horror house and get rid of all of them.
ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN (2019)
The making of this film has been hyped on social media for so long I was looking forward to seeing the finished product. I even made it the film of choice for a movie night with the hubba hubba. I’m surprised he didn’t bail on me as he usually does when a film just doesn’t click, because this one wasn’t grabbing us.
Turns out this was originally a web series years ago before being turned into a full-length feature. I’m not sure if it was completely reshot or if perhaps the web series footage was just expanded upon, but the finished product feels like a pasted together web series both in quality and the disjointed jumps from scene to scene.
The first thing we see is the zombie with the shotgun, and it tells us a lot about what we’re getting. Instead of makeup effects, his face is clearly a prosthetic piece that looks more like a mask. Surprisingly, there’s one zombie later on that looks way freakier than him. EEK!
The movie jumps all over the place, going from present time with an infected guy and his girlfriend on the run from bounty hunters to confusing flashbacks focusing on their experiences with irrelevant characters. There’s even a random animated sequence near the end for no clear reason—it makes me think the funds ran out before all the live action scenes could be complete.
Despite the title immediately bringing to mind Hobo With A Shotgun, there’s nothing over-the-top or grindhouse here, nothing to make the characters relatable, and quite honestly, the title of the film is mostly just a title, because this simply is not a movie about a zombie running amok with a gun. The plot takes itself very seriously so there aren’t even any light moments to help us connect with the leads. There are some sequences with lone zombies, but they aren’t very compelling, the cause of the infection is unclear (it seems to be both a corporate conspiracy and witchcraft?), and when the film ended with no clarity and loads of loose ends, the “to be continued” message was the last thing I wanted to see.
I will give the film this. The main guy is cute, looks great in a tank top, and shows off his bare ass.
PLAN Z (2016)
The same man directs, writes, and stars in this film. While it is a competently made, bleak film about a man with a plan to survive the zombie apocalypse, for me personally it is simply a case of total zomburnout, especially when it comes to character study zombie films.
With The Walking Dead having deconstructed the concept to death, it seems pointless to try to find a new angle, but I’d say Plan Z goes for themes of a) good guys questioning the worth of being humanity’s heroes, and b) the devastating effects a zombie apocalypse has on relationships and families.
The main guy initially narrates as he outlines his plan to survive (sort of a serious Zombieland), then it’s flashback city again as more and more characters are introduced. After various trials and tribulations of fighting and escaping zombies (you’ve seen it all before), the film virtually shifts focus to other characters. By the end it seems the film is leaving us with a setup for a sequel…about a different protagonist!
While the acting is good, just note that the film uses every trick in the low budget zombie movie book to mask the fact that no money was spent in crafting any sort of living dead makeup effects. Which explains shots like this…