Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zombies of Mass Destruction

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not much of a zombie fan, which puts me out of step with at least 90% of those who watch horror movies or read horror fiction. Nothing against it, it simply seems the sub-genre is exhausted. I always try to watch the After Dark Horrorfest movies though, and with Halloween approaching, decided to give Zombies of Mass Destruction a try. Zombies of Mass Destruction is a member of a sub-sub-genre, the zombedy, or zombie –comedy, best exemplified by Shaun of the Dead, with other successful examples being Zombieland and Hide and Creep.

Port Gamble is a fairly typical small town, albeit one that is fairly isolated by being on an island. Its politics run fairly red-state conservative, and most of the jokes made in the film are political in nature. Don’t worry about watching it if you’re a conservative, since liberals don’t come across all that well, either. As the story starts, a couple of former residents are returning to the island, Frida Abbas, the daughter of a local Iranian-American restaurateur (A running gag is that everyone thinks she’s Iraqi. It isn’t that funny), and Tom, who is accompanied by his boyfriend Lance, coming home to come out as gay to his mother. The outsiderness of the Arab-American Frida and the gay Tom are the source of most of the humor.

Once everyone is on the island, there is a zombie outbreak. Why this happens is never explained, although some think it is a terrorist attack, but an explanation really isn’t necessary. The movie becomes a the usual story of our protagonists trying to escape the cannibalistic walking dead, with the added sideplots of Frida dealing with her survivalist neighbors, who assume she’s responsible, and Tom and Lance having to hole up at a local church that definitely isn’t gay-friendly. This is also for the best, since the zombies here are not just the slow variety, they are ultra slow, and it seems if you pay attention and don’t let them get too close, they don’t pose that much of a threat.

The movie isn’t hilarious, but has some decently funny moments. It’s probably a little too long, since the jokes seem to wear a bit by then, and it didn’t seem the creators could make up their minds as to whether they wanted to descend into complete slapstick or not (it isn’t really that easy to pull someone’s arm off with a yank, for instance). Ever sense Romero did it so well; zombie film makers have tried to use the sub-genre to make social statements, with most of them falling on their faces. This movie does it well enough, though.

It certainly isn’t a terrible movie though, even to a zombie-phobe like me. The script is solid, the direction is good, production values are decent, especially considering the very low budget, and I could find no fault with the acting of the cast of unknowns. If you are the zombie enthusiast type, I imagine you would enjoy it quite well, and it works well enough even if you are not. I think my favorite line was the son asking his father if he was aware of what a zombie bite means, hasn’t he seen zombie movies? The father replies his son should know he’s a vampire man.

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