Do you see those two distinctly similar styles of pulp fiction at the top of your screen? One of them is the unrivalled pre-ban work of horror comics and has been praised by none other than the likes of Stephen King, George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg and John Landis. One would think that if you had the gravitas to create a modern horror work that paid obvious ad hominem homage to the ultimate horror tome of visual fiction and the grandfather to today’s modern graphic novel that it would at least be a remarkable product, if not all kinds of decent. Was it? At $6.99 and 75 minutes long, it was no EC comic, but it was everything you might expect by a distributer named Cheezy flicks.
What is responsible for the new zombie phenomenon? There are zombie shows on TV, zombie plotlines on Glee, and zombies in commercial ads for JC Penny’s and Sears. This little documentary seeks to answer the question of the zombie plague in pop culture by asking washed up actors, strippers for a Zombie calendar, and a fat, self-confessed “Zombie Enthusiast” whose REAL obvious claim to fame is he has a thousand times more comic books than girlfriends in his life. And guess what? Their answers are all pretty dumb. Only Bruce Campbell comes across as something less than a cretin, saying that zombies are but one of the many characters of the several films of his repertoire and that the real zombies are the big fat Americans who waste their lives on the sofa, eyes glued to the TV, still watching stupid schlock like most of his earlier pictures. This was the only moment my mouth was agape in this “horror-inspired” picture, and it wasn’t from fright but delight, because I am not used to seeing such irrevocable truth in these films I review, especially not spoken by cult actors from “popular” films that 50% of the population of the world have still never heard of. Good job Mr Campbell, I hope Burn Notice takes you far away from what you view as a “dead” subgenre.
Other stars include Lloyd Kaufman who is the head of Troma, George Romero who first commercialized this genre, and Linnea Quigley, an insufferable aged scream queen who, if you are to believe the rumors, was once worth seeing on your screen, and, even then, because I am guessing she was always shrieking, bloody, or naked at all times . The has-beens and no names pontificating about the trend of Zombie films like James Lipton is laughable enough. What really gets me are the secret shameless promotions for the “Stripperland” film and the “Zombie Calendar”, two other tertiary items that are sold at (you guessed it) cheezyflicks.com, which ultimately makes this thing not so much a “horror documentary” at all, but a lame infomercial you could show as is, uncut, late at night on network television (save for a little swearing).
Let it be known it’s not really the film I hate, but the format. If this was playing free, at cheezyflicks.com to build up buzz for their upcoming products it would be cool, somehow watchable. But to sit here and promise to explain the zombie marketing phenomenon to us once and for all, by selling us still more stupid/strange zombie related merchandise seems like a paradox, and anyone who falls for it might as have had their brains already devoured by zombies, because their heads are obviously empty.
And now for my own unique take on this “zombie phenomenon”, and, because I am not actually trying to sell you anything and I have wasted many hours of my life watching bad actors shamble about in even worse cold cream creature effects, heed my words for what they are; a mere opinion. Zombies have always been popular because they are cheap. You have a B movie with no budget and you need to make an antagonist army of Boogeymen for the main characters to battle with. What are you going to make them into? Are you going to make them Stormtroopers in Lucasfilm copyrighted armor that can’t be used anyway? Or how about Peter Jackson Orcs from Lord of the Rings with the hours of extensive choreography that they required to even walk upright? Why not create an army of vampires? All you need is a castle, some expensive velour outfits, and some junk jewelry that Liberace himself would have eschewed because it was “too gay” looking. No. Odds are, you will pick a zombie because it is the an offshoot of the simplest Halloween costume in the world - “the Hobo”. It can be purchased all year round, and you can outfit an entire cast with simply a trip to the Salvation Army and the Wal-mart makeup department. This is why there will always be zombies in B movies; producers are cheap, and most horror fans are young, have seen very few films, and don’t care about production values. Let it be said, I am not down on zombies or creature-effect monster movies per se. I think The Walking Dead is probably one of the best shows on network TV right now, not because of the realism of the zombies, but because of the authentic quality of the survivor characters.