US (dir. Kevin Hamedani)
Cast: Ali Hamedani, Bill Johns, Cooper Hopkins, Doug Fahl, Janette Armand, Russell Hodgkinson
Synopsis: Life is wonderful for the people in the quiet, island town of Port Gamble….until a zombie virus outbreak!
Review: “Zombies of Mass Destruction” is likely the only After Dark Horrorfest entry that is almost entirely comedic. As you may have guessed by the title alone, it’s essentially a political comedy with zombies (a zomedy, as the film’s tagline would suggest). A lot of classic zombie movies are emulated in this film, particularly “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Evil Dead”, and much of the comedy stems from post-9/11 American fears. It’s an interesting combination, one that I originally think wouldn’t work (I initially thought the title was a tad silly), but once I saw the movie, I was sold.
There’s a lot of social commentary in this film which satirizes xenophobia in a post-9/11 world, homophobia, hypocritical politicians, zany religious leaders preaching fire and brimstone, and the strong desire for social conformity in America. But despite all that, it’s all out flesh-eating zombie movie with enough carnage to go along with the social commentary. And on the plus side, “Zombies of Mass Destruction” boasts classic slow-moving zombies who are capable of occasional speed bursts, which is refreshing to see in the wake of so many super-fast-speed-runner zombie movies like “28 Days Later”.
There are two sets of hero characters in this film, so as the film progresses you get to see two different sets of people deal with the zombie outbreak. The first hero is Frida, a smart, in-charge type of girl who happens to be Iranian, though everyone in town think she is Iraqi. The second set of heroes is a gay couple (one who is a closeted homosexual trying to come out, while his partner is completely and unabashedly gay – right down to his hilarious t-shirt choice).
Both sets of heroes encounter their share of trials and tribulations throughout the zombie plagued night: the gay couple deals with hiding out in a church with a homophobic preacher and his homosexuality-reversal chair, while Frida deals with being tortured by a xenophobic neighbor (hilariously revealed to be Canadian, and therefore not American either) who is convinced Frida is an Iraqi with some connection to the zombie outbreak after the news station reports that “Middle Eastern Terrorists” were responsible for the zombies.
The special effects are incredibly well done in this obviously low budget, independent zombie movie. There’s an amazing face ripping scene that marks the beginning of the zombie, and I was really impressed by its goriness.
As mentioned before, many scenes are imitations of classic scenes from “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Evil Dead”, but a lot of the zombie-related gags are purely original – including an absolutely hilarious scene where Frida rescues a little girl, only to have her meet an unfortunate end.
What’s even more hilarious than that is when the little girl shows up later on in the film as a zombie, sans arm.
The film is not without its flaws, however minor they may be. Some of the dialogue feels a little lame like: “Don’t shoot, I’m gay!” (really?) and other additional lame homosexual jokes, but for the most part the gags and jokes work and don’t end up leaving you wincing. There’s a few small production issues I noticed in the film, one was pretty excusable: protective plastic sheet in the face-ripping scene was left on camera (I’m assuming it was meant to catch blood spray before it soaked the car, thus making it easier to re-shoot the scene over and over again without having to clean the car in between takes). Sure, it’s not exactly perfectly visible, but catching it on camera seemed a bit amateurish.
Another issue would be the zombies. For the most part, the zombie extras play their parts well. However, occasionally there comes on screen a dumb extra who doesn’t quite get the grabby, bite-y, nature of a zombie, like this high school cheerleader zombie who, upon encountering Frida, ends up looking more terrified than her potential victim. The zombie doesn’t even attempt to grab her! She just throws up her hands…
“Zombies of Mass Destruction” is a refreshingly novel zom-com (zombie comedy) that will, I guarantee, get a few laughs out of you, but it’s not in the same ranks as something as the absolutely brilliant Norwegian film “Dead Snow”.