SEPTEMBER 7, 2008
As Zombie Town’s opening credits flashed by, I caught a name that sounded familiar: David Giancola. Then a bit into the film, someone pointed out that they were in Vermont, and my memory was instantly jogged: Giancola was the guy behind Time Chasers, one of my all time favorite MST3k episodes, and butt of my favorite MST3k related anecdote. Apparently, he and the cast and crew of that film got together when the MST episode premiered, figuring it would be a good time, only to realize how much it hurt (one guy in particular, whose role was cut from the episode for time constraint reasons, was apparently borderline depressed about the whole experience). Hahahahah, awesome.
Anyway, the guys probably would have been more kind to this film (which Giancola only exec produced), as it’s far more entertaining than that film, with better production value to boot. With the exception of the blood (which never looks like anything but Kool-Aid), the effects are pretty good, and relatively plentiful. It’s a bit slow at first (slowest zombie outbreak ever – they are around from the first scene but they only become a real problem in the final half hour) but there is still plenty of action overall, especially for a low budget indie. Some of the gags are stolen outright from Shaun of the Dead though, something I’m not really thrilled about. But really, the biggest blunder in the film is during a Bingo scene where the guy calls out “O-2”. What sort of generic bullshit Bingo card has a 2 in the O column?
They also really sell the whole “town” angle. Unlike most zombie films, the walking corpses seem to have been actual people that the living characters know, and the film’s best laughs stem from their silly reactions to the fact that their friends are trying to kill them. “Fuck you, Mitch Smith!” one of the good guys yells after he is attacked by the Mitch-zombie. The film’s resident laid-back zombie hunter guy (more than just “shades” of Ed from Shaun) also nonchalantly kills his aunt at one point. And in the film’s one nude scene, a guy’s grandmother bites his partner in the middle of a backseat romp (one occurring in the middle of a party – I guess he’s not worried about his friends watching).
In addition to Shaun, some other horror-comedies are obvious influences. Our heroes meet the heroine in a scene straight out of Tremors, and some of the bigger gore scenes owe at least some of their existence to Dead Alive (Brain Dead). And slug nature of the zombies is a bit Night of the Creeps-y (plus they are killed by salt – a device from Horror Of Party Beach!). Unlike Shaun, however, they don’t directly steal exact gags from those films, so it’s much more acceptable. And since the movie is reasonably entertaining, I don’t mind being reminded of great films (as opposed to when a complete piece of shit suddenly references Jaws or Halloween or whatever).
The movie also has a surprising and ultimately excessive amount of profanity. The F word appears more often than zombies do; even old men toss the finger with relative nonchalance. Normally I don’t care (obviously – this review probably has an R rating) but sometimes it just seems excessive, and this is one of those times. Less is more, fuckers.
And I don’t care, the generic alt-rock song over the end credits rocked.
The disc has some extras that you can just skip for the most part. The best is a look at how some of the effects were pulled off, which goes into more depth than usual (and since they aren’t exactly KNB, they had to get a bit more inventive than the crews you usually see in these things). There’s also a “making of” that is pretty annoying, it’s just the cast trying to be funny for the most part. There is also a commentary, but they did a shitty job recording it – the dialogue of the film is pretty much at the same level as their audio, so it’s kind of hard to concentrate on who is talking and what is being said when the people on screen are talking (which is often for the first hour). Most of it is just sort of pointing out who the cast members are or whatever, so it’s not really essential. It’s also a full frame transfer; not sure if it was filmed that way (I honestly can’t tell if its film or DV – it looks pretty good either way) but if you have a widescreen TV, prepare to make the “stretch or windowbox?” choice.
What say you?