Zombies never go out of style. Sure, they may change from slow-moving zombies to fast-moving zombies, but the undead will always be the undead. I guess you could say that – to borrow a phrase from fashion – zombies are the new black. Where I don’t much care for the new wave of zombie features is that they don’t entirely respect the science behind the creation of these walking dead, and ZOMBIE MASSACRE kinda/sorta jumps onto that bandwagon. These zombies aren’t so much traditional zombies as they are ‘zombified’ monsters that share some of the typical characteristics of animated corpses. That’s a’right, I suppose, because MASSACRE is the kind of flick that probably has a very short life span … much like any of its lumbering beasties heading face-first toward our well-armed heroes.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Some kind of military toxin gets loose from a secret Romanian government installation. It’s absorbed into the air and, inevitably, produces a black rain that infects anything it touches. Voila! An entire Romanian city is gone (would that really be such a bad thing?), as its populace becomes ravaged by the manmade illness. Of course, this is somehow a United States’ facility (???), which only implies that there’s bound to be some crooked military officers desperate to cover Uncle Sam’s arse, and that almost always involves mercenaries.
No expense is spared – well, this is a Uwe Boll production, after all, so some expense is spared – to hire the best: a Schwarzenegger wannabe named Jack Stone (played with little appeal or charisma by Christian Boeving) and a handful of others, including a samurai sword wielding chick (Tara Cardinal) only because samurai sword wielding chicks are hot, get dispatched to do the unthinkable: detonate an explosion that’ll nuke the dead city, thereby disposing of the dead and any incriminating evidence.
On that front, much of ZOMBIE MASSACRE – written and directed by Marco Ristori and Luca Boni – is a respectable twist of the tried-and-true formula of employing soldiers of fortune to do a government’s bidding. Sure, none of them can really act worth a damn; why they’re always shot in ridiculous close-ups denies a suitable narrative explanation; and the fact that the professional sniper appears really awkward and (dare I say?) unschooled in using a rifle are inconvenient truths even Al Gore could spot without the help of bloated science. The problem – often the case with many of Boll’s low budget disasters – is that when you look too close you realize how little sense all of it makes.
Such as why is there a redneck vacationing in Romania? Why is it that, after Stone orders his commandos to conserve ammo, they start firing willy-nilly into crowds of zombies blocks away? Why hang so many unnecessary flashbacks on a story best told in present time? What’s the deal with the tacked on coda featuring the most voluptuous zombie-women ever filmed? And where in the Sam Hill did this Zombie King from the big finish come from?
Look, anyone who’s followed me even modestly will tell you that I have no problem with B movies. I grew up on B movies. Love ‘em. Some of my favorite flicks happened to be B movies. ZOMBIE MASSACRE is the kind of film Michael Pare or even Jean-Claude Van Damme would’ve made in the late ‘80’s. There’s nothing wrong with C-grade actors trying for B-movie sainthood. But – next time – could someone at least put a bit more thought into it?
ZOMBIE MASSACRE (2012) (aka APOCALYPSE Z) is produced by 1988 Games, Boll Kino Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG, Event Film Distribution, and Extreme Video Snc. DVD distribution is being handled through Entertainment One (EOne). As for the technical specifications, the picture looks and sounds pretty respectable, and – outside of the practical creature/monster/zombie effects – it’s all been assembled with the best Apps money can buy. And, to its credit, the disc boasts a few special features, including a making-of featurette, some interesting storyboard comparisons, and the theatrical teaser and trailers: a nice package if you’re interested, but it won’t change the way you see the world of Uwe Boll.
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. For a straight-to-DVD B movie, ZOMBIE MASSACRE could’ve been an awful lot worse, and, realistically, it isn’t until the latter half that the wheels come off entirely when it seems like writer/directors Marco Ristori and Luca Boni threw away the script and started making it up as they went. I’ve seen bad schlock, and this one honestly had a respectable chance to garner some modest praise (of which I’ve tried to provide), but, in the end, one man’s massacre is another man’s Uwe Boll production.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Entertainment One (EOne) provided me with a DVD copy of ZOMBIE MASSACRE by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.