Hmmmm….Does this film actually belong here? After all, there have been plenty of routine horror films which have tied zombies to flying saucers (something the creators of this film actually have the nerve to point out by including a few snatches of Ed Wood’s classically bad Plan Nine from Outer Space in the opening scene).
But the truth is that this film is just too much fun to ignore.
A video clerk delivers a lecture on zombie movies over the phone (“There are only three good American zombie movies and Romero made all of them”) to a customer who’s hoping he’ll find one that tells him how to kill zombies. A man wakes up naked in a tree. The head of the local gun club belated realizes that billing the club for the “Spice” network to keep his wife from finding out about it won’t work because she’s the club secretary and opens all the mail. And when someone tries to inform the local sheriff about the dead body in his store, the sheriff is out of town and the secretary refuses to call in the Deputy who’s on call unless it’s a life and death emergency.
All in all, the collection of slackers, oddballs and losers inhabiting the sleepy little Alabama town of Thorsby seem far more peeved that someone has interrupted their dead end lives than frightened. Along the way, we learn the real truth about Pepsi, discover a new use for post-it notes, learn what to do if a stranger comes while daddy is away, and, of course, figure out the secret weakness of zombies.
Chance Shirley first crossed my radar with his interesting lo-fi sci fi flick, Interplanetary, which is more or less what you’d get if you tried to make a mash-up of Office Space and Alien (or maybe Dilbert on Mars) with the money Ridley Scott tipped his caterers.
Here he writes and co-directs with Chuck Hartsell (who also plays the supercilious video clerk, Chuck) on a budget of $20,000 (most of it spent on film stock. Yes, real film, not video. If you don’t know why that makes a difference, Chuck will be glad to explain it to you. At great length). Somehow they manage to fill the movie with lots of sharp, witty dialogue, well developed characters and even a few genuine thrills, while mocking the conventions of the zombie genre with a loving wink and injecting new life into the hoariest of cliches. They also wring some quite good performances out of their mostly amateur cast, throw in a few modest digital effects, and have the good sense to keep the gore to a minimum, thus avoiding a lot of the embarrassingly bad effects that plague this sort of microbudgeted film. Okay, there a few lighting and sound issues, but nowhere near as many as you’d expect from this sort of do-it-yourself production
A true joy. I can’t wait to see their follow up, For a Few Zombies More. It’s guaranteed to be interesting. We might even get to see the flying saucer this time.
But I’d really like to know why no one in Hollywood has handed these guys a big wad of money.
It would make a lot more sense than giving it to someone who directed music videos.
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