Dread / The Final / The Graves / The Hidden / Kill Theory
Lake Mungo / The Reeds / Zombies of Mass Destruction



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STUDIO: Lions Gate
MSRP: $12.99
RATED: R
RUNNING
TIME:
92 minutes
SPECIAL
FEATURES:

- The Making of Zombies of Mass Destruction
- Trailer


The
Pitch


The
small town of Port Gamble gets some Middle Eastern payback for that
whole Iraq War Redux thing in the form of a minor
Zombiepocalypse.  Hijinks ensue.

The Humans


Janette
Armand, Doug Fahl, Cooper Hopkins, Bill Johns, Russell Hodgkinson, Ali
Hamedani, Cornelia Moore, James Mesher, Andrew Hyde, Ryan Barret,
Victoria Drake, Linda Jensen.


The Nutshell

2003:
During the height of the Iraq War the town of Port Gamble, life goes on
as in any other small town.  A local teacher, Mrs. Banks
(Moore) is running against the incumbent Mayor Burton (Mesher) in the
upcoming election.  Frida (Armand), an Iranian-American who
still has trouble with being identified as an Iraqi, has just returned
home after dropping out of Princeton.  Her father, Ali, is
struggling with identifying with his very non-traditional daughter,
while also trying to run his restaurant, which recently included firing
Frida’s boyfriend, Derek (Barrett) for showing up to work
late.  Meanwhile, Reverend Haggis (Johns) is lamenting the
ever-decreasing turnout at his Sunday sermons.  Also, Tom Hunt
(Fahl) and Lance Murphy (Hopkins), a gay couple, have returned to Port
Gamble from New York to finally tell Tom’s mother that he’s
gay.  
However,
little if any of that matters when a zombified corpse washes up on Port
Gamble’s shore to begin an onslaught of undead flesh eaters.




It was from this moment, waking up on a strange beach, that this zombie resolved to never again mix entrails and tequila shots.



The
Lowdown


I get what ZMD
was going for: giving a commentary on the Iraq War set against the
backdrop of a zombie micro-holocaust of all things, with an attempt to
lighten it up via a Shaun of the Dead / Zombieland tone.  Ultimately, however, ZMD can’t quite get it done.  It’s not an altogether bad zombie flick, but it’s uneven and pretty much runs out of gas.  Zombie
films and socio-political statements aren’t a new marriage. 
But they”re usually quite a bit more timely.  And whereas the original Dawn of the Dead delivers socio-political satire with a scalpel, this does it with a sledgehammer.  For a film
that’s trying to make a political statement, that message is some seven
years behind schedule.  Indeed, the message, as well as the
characters and a good deal of the jokes are fairly flat.  The film is just sort of alright.  Not great but not terrible.



“Who is that, the Marines?”
“Nah, Romero’s lawyers…”



On the zombie film political spectrum, with the right-wing being the terror of the original Night of The Living Dead and the left-wing the camp of Shaun, ZMD is mostly centrist.  With not a scary moment to be had and humor that can’t sustain itself for the whole film, ZMD’s
messages are getting lost in the primaries of timeliness and staleness
of some of its jokes.  ZMD
has the Romero playbook and runs it to predictability. 
The players are introduced in their pre-zombie lives, the zombies
arrive, the snack bar is opened slowly at first, then en masse, and
everybody hightails it for some building and boards themselves in, with
some falling short in bloodily gory fashion. 



Yeah, that’s generally what happens when you try to watch more than two of these Horrorfest films in a row…


Of
the characters established here, Armand’s Frida is the one with the
most heft (especially in the chestal region, hello).  Her story isn’t an unfamiliar one: she’s a
Westernized American of Middle Eastern descent, with all of the rights
to stereotyping and suspicion that that entails.  She’s caught
between trying to not be what her father expects and what the public
expects as well.  And this is even before the zombie outbreak
is attributed to a terrorist attack.  From there it’s a
certainty that she’s going to be in some paranoid, hysterical asshole’s crosshairs.  In this case,
it’s her neighbor, Joe, redneck American (by way of Canada) who ties
her to a chair and goes Guantanamo on her ass with a litany of
interrogations that prove he’s an idiot more than she’s a terrorist. 



Obviously this guy is a connoisseur of Brock Sampson.



The
only two other worthwhile characters, and the source of most of the laughs in the film, Tom and Lance, are themselves in
for a rough ride of scorn and abuse in the familiar form of religion
vs. gays.  When they hole up in a church with a bunch of
religious sheep and a whackjob reverend, it’s not long before they get
some religious waterboarding of their own.  In this case, it’s
a medical treatment in a “conversion chair” that, along with a grossly
homoerotic (in actuality a tame male skinfest from the middle of last
century) film and drugs, will bring them back to
God. 


DO NOT CLICK THIS.  IT’S THE SCARIEST THING IN THE ENTIRE FILM.  AND FOR GOD’S SAKE, DON’T CLICK IT AT WORK.



Now, there are a some laughs to be had in ZMD
They’re mostly centered around Tom’s reluctance to tell his
mother, who’s already on the fast track to Walking Deadsville, that
he’s coming out; and Frida’s initial encounter with the zombies when
her boyfriend gets a facial the hard way.  And also when there’s some zombie blasting (and also weed whacking) going on.  Also, the gore,
considering the budget, is respectable, and there’s plenty of it to go
around.  But under the guidance of first-time writer-director, Kevin Hamedani, ZMD, just doesn’t quite bring the funny as consistently as it needs to.  Zombies of Mass Destruction is a game attempt and does have its moments, but the positives only barely outweigh the negatives.



Thankfully, Frida was nice enough to oblige me after my having seeing that above link…



The Package

The film during the day looks good, but some of the night shots and interiors are shot way too dark.  Audio is fine in English Dolby 5.1 with English and Spanish subtitles.  The only special features are a quickie six-minute behind-the-scenes: The Making of Zombies of Mass Destruction and the trailer.  

 5.6 out of 10