Thursday, October 6, 2011

Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009)

Infected by intolerance

This is a comedy first and foremost with an element of horror off to the side like the tone of "Shaun of the Dead" but unlike the actual movie itself. Where it throws a curve ball to the subgenre, is this is also a heavy satire about the society that zombies are dismantling in a place called Port Gamble back in September of 2003. This comes with a share of awkward moments, obvious puns and jokes about subjects you're not supposed to joke about. No one is safe from ridicule as the film jumps around to various sides without necessarily picking one outright. This attempts to tackle what's hot on people's minds in the last decade and probably much further back than that with politics, prejudice, religion, sexuality and if that wasn't enough, how to live your life in your family's and society's steps compared to your own way as an individual that might be flawed or "un"picture perfect. The sudden outbreak might just give them the calling they need to expose all the mentioned social constructs for what they are.

"ZMD" begins with character backgrounds before the ominous title makes headway. It shows how the town interacted with hypocrisies and contradictions despite the pleasant front. The brain eaters are ignored at first, even with bloody clothing, nibbling tendencies and a stumbling gait, until it jumps head first into neck biting time and an all-out onslaught when they attack slowly but in numbers. There are some theories on the tube of the viral outbreak, if it's a terrorist attack or a direct result of the United States government. This concentrates on a male couple who go through an ordeal with one's mother about coming out of the closet and end up at the town church to hole up. Inside there's some shuffling around of who wants to lead with two competing polititicians who both argue about personal views or by actually taking action for the greater good of the group--sounds about right--as well as a preacher who wants the situation to handle itself from a blinding divine light but then finally moves to forceful conversion. This also cuts to a woman who was born here but has an Iranian background and is looked at as a terrorist nonetheless by being tied and interrogated by her ignorant neighbor while ignoring his own family and the greater picture while at it. Her traditional but tax paying, business owning father seeks her out despite turning her back on customs that seem foreign to her.

Soon it becomes more about humans vs humans than what's supposed to be the obvious zombies vs humans. Everyone has their own interpretation about every facet of life and at the core of the film is about tolerance and intolerance of others around us that we may agree or disagree with. This plays more on a fun element where violence and a survivalist mode is only tentatively questioned when the zombies attack, rather than the usual dramatic performances and spending awhile building up to that point. Friends and relatives are killed but people quickly move on by putting their emotions aside. This does a better job than "Homecoming" that also had a political message and zombies as the backdrop but seemed to step over the line of poetic license. "ZMD" doesn't take itself too seriously and can get a viewer a little more loosened up about the iffy subjects that can, if approached wrong, turn friends into enemies and possibly neighbors and co-workers into lepers.

There are some funny gags from time to time and other lines that are humorous for ringing true. Though the film is possibly too self-aware in areas to the point of forcing a reaction from the viewer. The gay couple works a little better since you can both laugh with them and at them without the message cutting too deep or just being included as a mere token element. It would be impossible to get every aspect of every mode they're tackling. They go for a balanced approach, though often times it covers familiar ground if you've gotten into deeper discussions or arguments on the subjects already. It doesn't always do more than a written account information wise, which leaves some of the more involving debates at the credits since you're not always given more; inspiration and amusement wise is another story to go out there and do something on your own accord. Though to give it the benefit of the doubt, its subjects are like listening to a broken record for a reason and they're using a different medium to get at a potential person to listen through harmless entertainment. This seems more aimed at a younger and more impressionable audience, not to mention since zombies are trendy as of the last bunch of years and would be something of grabbing interest than a dry book or local town meeting.

What works about this movie is there is a give and take of view points and opinions in the wrap up as well instead of going all out with an agenda without some breathing room. Some realizations and revelations come to characters for a reward for watching, while others remain in their stubborn ways, or never get a chance due to the zombies getting 'em or getting turned over to a one-track mind after being bitten. Since this is a satire, part of the resolutions are left up to the viewer to decide their placing, or to just scoff the whole ordeal off. The performances are memorable in that they make the characters come alive instead of coming across as something to just perpetuate the story into a certain direction. They mostly manage to stay in context to the satiric tone though with a few areas nearly crossing the line over to drama. There's definitely blood and gore and some various weapons of choice used to put a stop to the traditional movie zombies that are lethargic. Though very little of it feels shocking or scary as it's never made out to be completely realistic in the slightest. The level of danger, even on a minor level, feels far removed despite what's being shown. In a sense it's treated like it comes with the territory rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. They could have replaced zombies with another brainless monster and it would have been most likely the same experience, which kind of takes away from the legend aspect of zombies that the title grabs you at. They do give a few nods to films before it but I'll leave that up to you to spot.

Rating: 6.5/10

Director: Kevin Hamedani
Link: IMDB


  1. I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago. It was ok, it was exactly what I expected, a below average zombie flick with some funny moments and some stupid moments.

  2. True. The zombie element, I agree, was below average. I'm not a political person but I thought it was decent and had its merits in that regard for still keeping it amusing. I need some more zombie movies on here, ha.