Friday, 4 October 2013

Die You Zombie Bastards! - review

2005 (USA)

Contains spoilers.

I can't deny this goofy over the top surreal zombie comedy didn't have its moments and maybe I just wasn't quite in the mood for an hour and forty minutes of non stop cheap and trashy wacky toilet and prosthetic penis humour, but all in all I came away feeling a bit tired and bored. I also came away thinking it felt very much like a Troma production, gaudy, excessive and camp, but, and I can't believe I'm going to say this, somehow lacking the same finesse and polish.

Director Caleb Emerson has unquestionably put together something unique and out there, it's just by trying to instil every line and every moment with his bizarre warped humour it feels all a bit too busy, a bit too full on. There's never a moment for the audience to take a breath; it's constant full on and in your face from the first second to the last whether that particular joke is necessary or that funny.

Red (Tim Gerstmar) the hero, enjoying a picnic with his wife Violet (Pippi Zornoza) dashes home to pick up a bottle of forgotten champagne only to return to find she's been kidnapped by Baron Voklauf mummyhead von Nefarious the third (Geoff Mosher) who has fallen in love with her. Die You Zombie Bastards! takes the kitchen sink approach to narrative and story. Red is of course also a serial killing cannibal and the picnic was of course a fresh human head. Violet is in on the cannibalism and likes nothing more than to fashion clothing from the body parts and skin Red brings home. To finish off, Nefarious is a wretched looking dark shadowy figure hiding out on Hell Island with a master plan to turn the planets population into green-goblin like zombies with his Enormo-Zombotron adapted from technology he salvaged from an alien vessel that crash landed years earlier.

In order to rescue his beloved, Red begins a road trip to a visit a series of narratively unrelated, yet increasingly surreal and bizarre people who recount loud silly stories before telling him who to go to next. CoconutHeadFaceMan, a village with no men and a cheese-fondue throwing demon,  Hasil Adkins, an Appalachian country, rock and roll, and blues musician, as himself who gets him to drink beer and do press-ups; his journey is daft, it's cheesy, it's not without it's charm but it's very busy, totally rambling and dare I say, all a bit tedious. Now I'm a big fan of surreal humour and daft and silly for no reason other than being daft and silly, but when it's so constant and unremitting the jokes all end up coming across a bit flat. It's Morecambe without Wise, the funny without the straight; or in this case the absurd and surreal with any normality to contrast and play off.

There's a back story where a race of aliens called the warlords enslaved a far away world turning the adults all into zombie slaves and eating all the children. One such alien craft crashed on Hell Island and was found by Baron Nefarious, who adapted the technology to build his first Zombotron which with a flick of the switch and a flash of green he can use to instantly turn people into zombies. All the special effects, prosthetics, models and costumes are deliberately, I hope, excruciatingly poor. Green body suits, glaringly obvious face masks with large holes cut out for the eyes, and painted on nipples for three topless zombie girls he turns early on in the film is the full extent of the zombie make-up. They look crap and they act crap prancing and jumping about like goblins crossed with orang-utans, and that's it really.

The acting from the main three is deliberately b-movie, camp and cheesy but it's strong and confident. The background girls in it to remove their shirts and the zombie slaves all play their roles as one would expect given it's z-movie desires. Taste and decency have also been thrown at the window, with more prosthetic penis scenes than I think I've seen before and quite the bit of excessive blood and gore all done gratuitously without a care what boundaries they may be crossing. It's definitely one area the film succeeds in and provides for quite some memorable images, the cannibal picnic being my personal pick.

Cheap, trashy, noisy; Die You Zombie Bastards! is a bit of a mixed bag. With many hilarious scenes, but it's just all too forced, just trying too hard to maintain a constant ridiculously high level of insanity. If they'd just reined it in a bit, taken out some of the jokes that maybe weren't quite as funny as they thought, the humour that undoubtedly does work would be allowed to shine. 

Relentless action, relentless humour, snappy disruptive camera work, gratuitous and exploitative gore and nudity and loud in your face soundtrack; it's a busy explosion of a film with many good ideas. If a film could be described as having ADHD though, this would be it; someone should have stepped in, perhaps with medication and just told it to calm the fuck down, and then perhaps it would have all felt a bit more natural and at ease with itself. It's definitely a unique experience and not without merits, it's just you should probably take some aspirin and be prepared for a lie down when it's over, 4/10.


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