Saturday, January 19, 2013

Horror Film Review

Mutant Vampire Zombies from the 'Hood (2008):  Zombie flick!  And it's straight outta Compton.  With a title like that and it being written such as it is on the poster, it's definitely poking a bit of fun at the genre, but it doesn't step over the line into full-on spoof.  Very tongue-in-cheek.  Both tongue and cheek do, at some point, get chewed off and eaten, though.  And here's something I never do; I want to issue a warning at the outset - there are things in this movie that once seen, cannot be un-seen.  I

A super-charged solar flare envelops the planet in funky radiation, making fuel no longer combustible and, oh yeah, mutating humans into flesh-eating monsters.  Two gangs and two cops are in a lead-shielded medical warehouse having a shootout and therefore not affected.  One head gang-banger is G-Dog (Tyshwan Bryant), the other is Dragon (Robert Wu).  Lead cop is David (C. Thomas Howell).  Doesn't take long for these enemies to join forces against the common zombie foe.  A scientist (Gregory Alan Williams) broadcasting a TV signal from his home urges survivors to meet at his house and so the unlikely alliance of cop and crooks battles their way there.  Along the way, they're captured by a group of irradiated humans who aren't full zombies but rather psychotic freaks with very disturbing cravings (this is what I warned you about).  Two members of the alliance are lost during this encounter.  Just thinking about it now as I type makes a little sick in my throat.  Anyway, they make it to the scientist's house and, lucky for David, he has a hot daughter (Johanna Watts)...who happens to be a doctor.  The plan is to flee to the safety of the scientist's property in the mountains where the radiation killed everyone immediately due to the higher elevation.  As you might imagine, the plan doesn't quite go according to plan.

I was so ready to hate this movie I could taste it.  C. Thomas Howell and zombies?  Come on.  But it surprised me.  Not only did most of the humor work, but there was honest-to-God character development.  I know!  I liked the shameless rip-off of lines from other horror movies.  Aliens ("Game over, man!) and Jaws ("Smile, you son-of-a-) to name a couple.  I also liked that one of the gang-bangers droned on and on about George A. Romeo and his zombie movies.  Then another said he'd only seen Shaun of the Dead, which earned an angry retort that Shaun wasn't a real zombie film.  Like that.  Now, I'm sure you're wondering where vampires fit into all of this.  They don't.  Early on, one of G-Dog's guys saw a zombie biting someone's neck and started screaming about how it was Nosferatu.  Pretty funny, actually, but as he quickly learned, they aren't vampires.  Incorporating the word into the title does add extra comedic punch, even if it is a blatant lie.


Acting:  Not as bad as I feared, but still...a lot of ham.  If you're looking for subtle, layered performances, you'd best look elsewhere.
Story:  Some very nice, if not outright sickening, twists on the old standard.  You'll have to avoid a boat-load of plot holes, though.
Direction:  The action is helmed by someone with the unlikely name of Thunder Levin and it flows fairly well. 
Production Values:  The film was made for an astronomical $3 million.  They didn't spend any on the opening credits, which looks like something you'd see in 80s porn.  They also skimped on the space sequence showing the flare hit Earth.  Most of the money went towards firepower and heat shots.  Works for me.  Film, not video, was the medium and sound and lighting didn't suck.  The plethora of establishing shots around L.A. nearly became overkill and must have cost a few bucks.
Gore/FX:  Jeepers, yes.  Like I mentioned earlier...stuff you can't un-see.  Let me put it this way, what would happen to folks who got themselves captured by a band of armed nymphomaniac cannibals?  They didn't have tea and biscuits, that's for damn sure.  Just...ew.
Scares:  Nah.  I don't think they even tried.
Ending:  Nothing fancy, nothing twisty.  A plane flying away.  I have one complaint here...everyone was fighting to get to the airport to escape to the mountains, right?  Many got killed during the struggle.  Four made it.  The plane is only a four-seater!  What the hell would they have done if no one got killed and all ten of them had gotten there alive?  Remember what I said about plot holes?
Verdict:  Should you see Mutant Vampire Zombies from the 'Hood?  Check it out for a lark.  If you ignore the stupid stuff, it's kind of fun.  Oh, and if you have a delicate constitution, you'll need to skip over the whole section where our heroes are captured.  Nasty.

Rating:  3 out of 5

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