There is so much zombie trash on Amazon Prime that every once in a while a movie will remind me why it’s worth plodding through tons of bad ones to discover it. Never thought there would be a time when I’d discover three unique zombie films in one marathon!
ZOMBIE WARS: BATTLE OF THE BONE (2008)
As crazy as Splash Area is, I think Battle of the Bone beats it. This is virtually a zombie martial arts action movie from beginning to end. There’s barely any character development or storyline – we are tossed into the middle of a chase scene, as a kid infiltrates some sort of lab and is then pursued by a couple of scientists.
It’s just nonstop running, chasing, and fighting from that point on. Oh…and…hordes of zombies! The basic premise is that riots between opposing groups in Belfast are complicated by a huge zombie outbreak, but I barely knew who was who until the second half of the film, when two guys and a girl are singled out as the main trio. As they battle both threatening humans and waves of zombies, the battle scenes and acrobatics throughout city streets and buildings are epic, and often set to a pounding techno beat.
That’s not to say there’s no horror. Sequences of zombies pursuing characters through rundown buildings with long dark halls, creepy camera angles, and a kick ass soundtrack clearly paying homage to John Carpenter scores are creepy and suspenseful. The only part that was tedious to me was a prolonged slow motion, blurred sequence near the end of the film of the military stepping in to stop the chaos. The raucous audio during this part is enough to drive you mad.
In the final act of the film, the battles become somewhat comical, as if inspired by martial arts fights in Jackie Chan movies. I laughed out loud when one dude takes out a couple of enemies with a huge shovel (the sound effects alone gave me a giggle). The zombies snarl and growl, and there are even some nasty flesh-eating scenes (a mouth munching is particularly gnarly).
If you can appreciate mindless zombie action (like, high-octane zombie action) that isn’t restrained by a low budget, give this one a look.
THE DEFILED (2010)
Julian Grant, who brought us Arkham Sanitarium – one of my recent faves – offers up what can only be described as The Clan of the Cave Bear with zombies.
Normally, films that humanize a zombie are so not my thing, but this is one weird fricking film that I could not look away from (until it started to run way too long for my tastes, at which point I was looking everywhere but at the screen).
Completely void of any dialogue, The Defiled follows the challenges of being a zombie…a zombie that looks notably like the first iconic zombie from Night of the Living Dead. The film is even shot in black and white with color tints. It’s a stunning looking film for sure.
The Defiled totally humanizes the zombie condition as a case of survival of the fittest. Zombies fight over resources, zombies pee (while smiling giddily?), zombies have sex (there’s seriously a zombie sex scene), and zombies have feelings and care about others, even humans.
Our main zombie’s zombie woman dies giving birth (gross scene), and he becomes a loyal protector of the baby.
Then he sees two cruel zombies leading two women around by chains, frequently torturing and beating them (it’s The Walking Dead gone mad). The main zombie manages to rescue one of the women!
The zombie and human woman become unlikely allies as they fight to keep the baby safe and avoid military attacks, both gunfire and bombs. And then their relationship begins to deepen.
It’s such a bizarre premise that’s fascinating to watch…until it begins to go on forever! I mean, no talking, nonstop musical score, and incessant crying from the baby. That was hard for me to take. Shave twenty minutes off the running time and let the baby be happy once in a while and I would have been able to appreciate the movie a bit more.
I’m going to say two shocking things in one sentence: I wish this character driven zombie film had been longer than 70 minutes so we could get even more character development.
The opening scene explaining the outbreak is the lowest point of Immune. It feels glaringly cheesy compared to what comes after, with a “TV interview” of a doctor defending his unethical experiments to save lives. This is followed by a handful of extras having their faces overcome by CGI zombie makeup as if the infection is suddenly airborne and instantaneous.
Next, we meet our main guy, some time after the outbreak has infected most humans. The scenes of him avoiding random zombies as he makes his way through a city are effectively eerie, especially in the notably dark nighttime lighting. And we learn several things about these zombies: they actually sleep, and they turn into toast like vampires if they go into sunlight.
Our main guy also sobs himself to sleep because of the horror of hearing the creepy noises the zombies make all night long, right outside his walls. The beginning of this film reminds me very much of The Last Man On Earth with Vincent Price.
And then a shirtless dude shows up and passes out at the main guy’s door. Suddenly, this movie gets an oddly gay twist! It gets so gay in fact that it’s receiving honorary inclusion on my page of homo horror movies.
The new guy has a moment of gay panic when he realizes the main guy undressed him and bathed him when he first arrived. The main guy admits he’s gay, the new guy tosses out the word queer, and the main guy tells him not to worry because he’s not his type. The pair sleeps shirtless at night and the main guy cooks nice meals for them.
Then the new guy comes out of the closet about having a wife and child he wants to go look for, so they set out on a journey into zombie territory.
More intense zombie encounters occur, and then they come across another guy who has a shirtless pretty boy chained up like his bitch. This is one gay zombie film.
They rescue the pretty boy, and the main guy urges him to stick with them (you can see why by the look in his eye), but the pretty boy departs to go find his brother.
And finally, the two main men SPOON. Awesome. It’s Zombrokeback Mountain.
Plus, there’s some good contemporary social commentary and a pretty positive ending. I just wish it had come 20 minutes later. Things were just beginning to heat up in their relationship!