APRIL 20, 2010
I assume at least some of you are pot smokers, so I hope you appreciate me suffering through Pot Zombies to coincide with its namesake “holiday”. I’ve never taken a puff in my life, and had to ask (not today, years ago) why 4-20 meant anything to marijuana enthusiasts, and of course I got the “it’s the police code” story, which is, as you hopefully know by now, not true. In fact, 4-20 doesn’t seem to have a sound origin; leave it to potheads to forget the meaning of their own holiday.
Anyway, even if you were blasted beyond belief, I can’t imagine liking this sorry excuse for a movie. Leonard Shelby himself would be appalled at the lack of a discernible narrative or any sort of connection from one scene to the next, and it’s not even an hour long (and if I had known that prior to viewing, I wouldn’t even have considered it for HMAD-ing; the box promises a 90 minute run time). There is no main character or even Pulp Fiction-esque tapestry to speak of; it’s just a bunch of scenes that all follow the same pattern: some folks meet up, talk, smoke, and then one of them turns into a zombie and eats the other. Lather, rinse, repeat. Even the fucking aspect ratio is inconsistent - the opening scene has a small matte on the top and bottom, which disappears once the overlong opening titles begin. I don’t think the target audience is reading who the composer is at all, so I’m not sure why they felt the need to leave each credit on screen for like 10 seconds. Maybe they were trying to pad it to a still-not-feature-length running time.
One scene actually amused me, however. A guy in an old VW is being chased by a “police car”, and he ultimately pulls over and tells this long, incoherent, fairly funny anecdote about chicken. Compared to everything else, it’s comic genius, and the guy playing the burnout gives it his all. Oh, if you’re wondering why I put “police car” in quotes, it’s because it’s actually just some Oldsmobile or something, with a digitally created/animated set of police lights placed over it. But the animator was also high, or just terrible at his job, as the lights don’t match the movement of the car in the slightest, so they just slide around, change scale at a different speed than the car, etc. It may be the most jaw-droppingly awful use of animated elements since the CGI vent in Doomed.
The effects guy also has a lot of trouble with the eyes on the zombies. You’d think they would at least try to make sure their zombies looked good, but no, the needless CGI green eyes shift often around even when the zombie’s head is still. Their bodies also turn green instantly, like they were the Hulk or something. More often than not, the zombie transformation seems to be the result of director Justin Powers getting bored with the scene and throwing green paint over one of the characters to move things along.
The film is apparently the result of Troma’s “Make Your Own Damn Movie” program for young filmmakers. Since Troma opted not to include any information on this program, or any sort of commentary/making of about the film, I have to assume that said young filmmakers pitch movies to Troma and get 10k (the movie’s reported budget) to make it. Admittedly, the film has a certain Troma quality to it - boobs, tasteless gore, eye-rollingly bad humor, etc. And Lloyd Kaufman appears in two scenes as a retarded pizza delivery man, giving that added Troma feel. But, legitimate Troma productions also have narratives, fun cameos, and a shot of a blue car flipping over somewhere in New Jersey. Powers and his buddies can emulate it all they want, but it’s missing the basic charm and (negligible, to be fair) basic professionalism that makes actual Troma movies worth watching.
So what IS on the disc? A few music videos which I assume are for songs in the film, none of which I need to hear again, the film’s trailer, and a drinking/smoking game that will give you a prompt to either drink or smoke (or both!) at certain points in the movie. “Every time you are asked to suddenly care about new characters that you have no interest in, drink!” Lloyd also offers his usual intro, once again promising that we are going to see the director’s cut of the film (this must be a joke that I just don’t get - there couldn’t possibly be a SHORTER version of this goddamn movie, right?) and even that sucks compared to his others. Finally, a short film that the filmmakers made a few years before Pot Zombies is included, sans any sort of context. It’s actually not bad, a completely silent account of a date that ends in bloodshed, but it seems like they just included it to fill up space. Not that I really want to spend more time with Pot Zombies, but a little bit of backstory never hurt anyone, and like I’ve said before, I’m more forgiving to a film if the filmmakers offer up a legitimate defense. If they think this movie speaks for itself, well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but it’s a piece of shit. Hopefully future entries in this “series” fare better.
What say you?
P.S. Oddly enough, tomorrow night Lloyd will be at the New Beverly for a Toxic Avenger screening (which will be my HMAD for the day, as I’ve never seen the whole thing). Should I throw this disc at him while yelling “Take this back!”, or sell it for 10 cents to SecondSpin? Though it seems to be out of print, so maybe I will hold onto it, in case it's some sort of ironic collector's item.