Sunday, 9 September 2012

Zombie Women of Satan - review

2009 (UK)

Contains spoilers.

Now you either get the juvenile, quirky, twisted and very British humour of Zombie Women of Satan with its ridiculous story, over the top characters, amateurish production and immature banter and effects or, like most the reviewers of IMDb etc, you don't.

Co-written, directed, produced, promoted by and starring Warren Speed as Pervo the clown, Zombie Women of Satan is a satirical exploration into the dehumanising effect of cult worship and a sociological study of morality and what people are willing to do and sacrifice in order to protect the ones they love. Or depending on how you look at it, it was an excuse to tell a story of a bunch of misfit burlesque performers fighting hordes of scantily clad zombies and tell as many knob gags and poo jokes as they could get away with. I'm leaning towards the latter.

Headed by the group's compère Johnny Dee Hellfire (Seymour Mace) the ragtag burlesque troupe and the heroes of our story, Flesharama are a motley assortment of miscreants. Johnny and Pervo are joined on and off stage by rock chick Skye Brannigan (Victoria Hopkins), Zeus the mighty and flatulent dwarf (Peter Bonner), burlesque dancer and ever vain Harmony Starr (Kate Soulsby), and mute chainsaw wielding giant Damage (Joe Nicholson).

Always desperate for publicity, Johnny Dee arranges an interview for the troupe with rising internet phenomenon Tycho Zander (Christian Steel) at his rural retreat where unbeknown to Flesharama, Tycho's father (Bill Fellows) and sisters have been conducting secret experiments to find a cure for their foul mouthed zombie-mother's (Kathy Paul) condition. Offering sanctuary, underwear and physical affection, Tycho has become a bit of a cult leader and has amassed quite the house full of scantily clad pretty girls for his father's literal disposal, and with the troupe's arrival the stage is too well set for something not to go seriously wrong.

Cue the action. A small oversight spreads the demon mother's disease to the girls and before anyone knows it the farm is swarming with dangerous snarling flesh hungry and rather feisty semi-naked zombie chicks. Flesharama find themselves in the centre of the maelstrom, not only fighting to survive but unexpectedly on a rescue mission after discovering Skye Brannigan's sister is being held after falling for Tycho's promises.

The battle for survival is over the top, ridiculous and delivers all the blood, banter, gags and boobs you'd expect to see from a film with 'Zombie Women' and 'Satan' in the title. Speed has crafted a character driven narrative with good confident pacing and uses an assortment of dramatic, shocking and comedy horror and action scenes to let the rich assortment of misfits shine. The mix of incredibly diverse and damaged personalities are allowed to interact with a surprising amount of depth and complexity, with entertaining witty and dare I say intelligently written dialogue throughout; the constant toilet-bowl jibing between Pervo and Johnny Dee is a particular highlight.

For a b-movie with a tight budget and limited resources the cinematography shows some real flare and vision and whilst the special effects, make-up and zombie splats are over the top and hammy it doesn't detract from the film, it adds to its charm. With the gags coming thick and fast Zombie Women of Satan knows what it is and never ever takes itself seriously.  I honestly don't know what people who heavily criticised the film thought they'd be getting especially considering the cover and title, but Speed set out to create a daft fantastical low budget zombie comedy and succeeded majestically. They wanted this to become a cult classic and whilst polarising opinion, I'm very much on the side that says Zombie Women of Satan achieves it, 7/10.


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