The Film: Aaah! Zombies!! (2010)
What is a zombie movie like from the zombies’ perspective? Four friends – Mike (Matthew Davis), Vanessa (Julianna Robinson), Tim (Michael Grant Terry), Cindy (Betsy Beutler) – accidentally become zombinated when they eat some soft-serve ice cream that’s been contaminated by a failed military experiment. After they cross paths with an irate, and also zombinated, soldier (Colby French), who informs them of the military experiment, the group falsely believes that the rest of the world has become infected, not them.
Is It Good: Zombies have been played out for so long now that even zombie parodies are played out. That Aaah! Zombies!! manages to pull off a novel twist to the subgenre is no small feat at this point. The basic gimmick of the film is that our hero zombies see themselves and each other as looking perfectly normal, while they see the rest of humanity as moving is fast-motion (we’re dealing with slow moving Romero zombies here), making it impossible to communicate with them. It’s an amusing idea, not to mention a clever way for an extremely low budget film to circumvent needing to do zombie make-up every day. The portions of the film from the zombies’ perspective are shot in color, and when we cut to the human perspective we shift to black’n’white, where our heroes are now seen as lumbering and disgusting creatures. While this shtick wears thin at times, for the most part the movie manages to have a lot of fun with it.
Aaah! Zombies!! definitely has its weak points, most directly due to its visibly tiny budget. There really isn’t much of any gore in the film, with fairly simplistic make-up for the zombies, and the film becomes noticeably constrained whenever it tries to do action. But this is a very small film, so one just has to keep that in mind going in. Ultimately, as a horror-comedy, the film puts most of its weight on its comedy foot.
Where the film shines are the performances, which are uncharacteristically good for a film of this caliber. Matthew Davis (Below, Blue Crush) stands out here, showing off a positively vintage Bill Murray-like level of snarky charm that I had no idea he was capable of. Colby French is great to watch and has some of the best dialogue in the film, including a hilarious speech about his embarrassing military career, and a line I think I will find myself quoting in the future: “Idiots don’t feel stupid, but they are.” The cute-as-a-button (what does even mean?) Betsy Beutler displays excellent comedic timing, but is increasingly given less to do as the film progresses, unfortunately – I’d like to see her in another comedy. And I’m always happy to see the human walrus, Richard Riehle (playing an Army commander here), who at 235 IMDb credits, has the kind of “He was in that?” filmography to rival Stephen Tobolowsky.
Is It Worth A Look: Yeah. Why not? While the zombie-comedy has been milked pretty dry, it is still a great subgenre when one can find a decent flick that isn’t just recycling bits from Shaun of the Dead. Aaah! Zombies!! doesn’t land every joke, but it has an endearingly amiable tone and Matthew & Sean Kohnen’s script is surprisingly sharp. It has a television comedy vibe to it that I enjoyed – the kind of film that probably never belonged on the big screen, but makes for a fun rental or DVD grab. Unless you dislike zombie-comedies, in which case, this won’t be the film to turn you around.
Random Anecdote: A testament to how over-saturated the zombie horror-comedy market has been, despite winning the Audience Award at Screamfest in 2007 (under its original title, Wasting Away), the film had been toiling on the festival circuit until finally hitting DVD yesterday.