Sunday, November 4, 2012

Horror Film Review

Toxic Zombies (1980):  There are inherent dangers lurking when one makes the bold if not foolhardy decision to watch a zombie flick from the late 70s/early 80s.  The exploitation bug was still biting filmmakers on the ass back then and this movie is the product of said ass-biting.  Of course, that doesn't necessarily means it's bad.  Ah, who am I kidding?  It's bad. 

Two guys with rifles stalking through the woods is how we begin.  Next shot is of a woman standing in the middle of the woods washing her boobs.  I really wish I was making that up.  Rifle dudes follow her back to her camp, shout that they're federal agents, and shoot the woman through the throat when she turns to run.  Her friends show up and kill the two feds.  See, the campers are marijuana growers and the government has been searching for their secret growing fields.  When the feds don't report back, an agent-in-charge decides to hire a crop duster to hose down the whole area with an experimental herbicide that may or may not have serious side-effects.  Oh, it may, it may.  The campers/dopers get dusted and slowly, very slowly, turn violent and murderous (they don't die first, which is weird). 

Main character is Tom Cole (Charles McCrann who wrote and directed), the local agent who's responsible for the sprayed area but was never told about the operation, and he's going on a fishing trip with his wife and brother.  Guess where?  A couple of locals, brother and sister, also blunder into the middle of the zombie carnage.  Eventually, the agent who ordered the spraying along with his assistant show up to contain the situation by making sure everyone dies.  They fail, as do the zombies.  (yawn)  Yeah, that's main problem with Toxic Zombies.  It's just boring.  There are like half a dozen zombies so there's no sense of impending apocalypse.  All these folks would need to do is hide behind a tree and whack the undead cannibals in the head when they shamble by.  People this dumb deserve what they get.

Other than brain-numbingly boring, Toxic Zombies has a number of other problems.  Shocking, I know.  The film (and it is on film) was copied to DVD from VHS, not from the master, so you can imagine the quality of the picture, which is full-screen.  I'll outline the other problems in the Breakdown.  One interesting aspect is the music.  It's pretty creepy.  Reminiscent, if not blatantly copied, from John Carpenter's Halloween.  You know the music I'm talking about.  Gives me the willies.


Acting:  Beverly Shapiro as Tom's wife Polly is extraordinarily bad.  Everyone else is just normal bad. 
Story:  Dope, boobs, and zombies.  Could have worked, but didn't.  Too few zombies, too many boobs, and not one joint smoked.  Can't figure the R rating.
Direction:  At best, slow as a geriatric turtle wading through taffy.
Production Values:  The VHS copy to DVD thing works against it, obviously.  Interior office sets are something you'd see in a porno, so it's a good thing most scenes are shot out of doors.  The sound quality is surprisingly good. 
Gore/FX:  Cheesy, exploitation-era blood.  The zombie make-up must have set them back at least ten bucks. 
Scares:  Unless you have a phobia of boobs or bad acting, you don't have anything to worry about.
Ending:  I think the climax was supposed to be exciting.  It wasn't.  All zombies and bad guys die, and there's no lingering zombie threat.  Really just...blah. 
Verdict:  Should you see Toxic Zombies?  Only if you're a dedicated (and I mean seriously dedicated) fan of exploitation flicks.  For straight zombie fans, I'd recommend giving this one a pass.  Everyone else...  Yeah.  Don't. 

Rating:  1 out of 5

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