Like the terrific Canadian zombie film FIDO, Marc Fratto's film ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS tries to offer us a refreshing new twist on the tired old zombie story. In Fratto's world the zombies are only the recently dead, they possess all their mental faculties although both their minds and bodies do deteriorate with time, and most importantly they are NOT flesh eating monsters intent on gobbling your grey matter, at least not at first. All these poor souls want is to continue "living their unlives" as they had been before they had been so rudely interrupted by undeath; go to work, pay the mortgage, walk the dog, etc. Society however, has major problems accepting them. Most folks just pretend not to see them at all, while others engage in more overt acts of discrimination such as firing them from their jobs simply because they are "mortally challenged" while still others react as do ZOMBIE ANON's chief antagonists by forming hate groups resembling the KKK and the American Nazi Party. As you can see ZA is VERY similar to FIDO in the respect that both deal with the concept of zombies representing a lower caste of humanity. The difference is that 1) in FIDO they were used as slave labor or forbidden entry by a huge fence, and 2) in the case of ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS they're targeted by young punks banding together under the leadership of woman known as The Commandant for the sole purpose of making the undead a little less "un".
Sounds like a great premise doesn't it? Well, it is. And the fact that it was supposed to be a black comedy made it all the more enticing to me, but the sad truth is that these film makers simply bit off more than they could chew, pun intended. Not only do they symbolically take on the issue of racial and/or ethnic prejudice they also tackle domestic violence in one of the strongest opening scenes I've ever seen in a horror flick (especially one that promised it was going to be a comedy), a scene that is echoed later in the finale. Normally I'd say Bravo, nice take on a difficult subject! The trouble is now we have two major story lines going; prejudice AND domestic violence and its going to take one heck of a film-maker to pull all this off. Especially since Fratto decides to link the domestic violence to a thread of female empowerment. (Trust me, here it's a bit odd) Three out of four of the most important characters in the film are women; there's our protagonist Angela (Gina Ramsden) who is murdered by her rat of a husband Josh (Joshua Nelson) in that first scene I mentioned, then there's the evil Commandant Christa McNamee who's one nasty piece of work, and of course the big zombie leader known as Mother Solstice, plus this other zombie chick who's hanging with Josh for some reason we're not privy to. I hate to criticize a film-maker for attempting too much but that's exactly what happened here. They started with a comedy that really isn't very funny, added several messages, and for good measure they tacked on an orgy of zombie mayhem with everyone trying to kill everyone else as an after thought. There were a lot of ideas for some great flix in this movie, but sadly there were just too many ideas for one movie.