Saturday, April 25, 2015

Horror Film Review

Zombieworld (2015):  This ambitious if uneven anthology of short films is a satirical homage to the zombie apocalypse sub-genre.  I'm' not normally a fan of anthologies like this.  I prefer one story with three acts that I can lose myself in for 90 minutes.  However, since B-horror icon Bill Oberst, Jr. stars, I wasn't about to pass it up.  I'm glad I didn't...for the most part.

We hit the ground running with an exciting, Cloverfield-esque quickie where terrified folks are fleeing a nuclear power plant meltdown.  They get a bit more terrified when radiation zombies attack.  It ends weird, though.  A golfer attacking a 20-foot tall, amorphous monster with a putter.  Cut to...

A newsroom where anchor Marvin Gloatt (Oberst) with his truly awful suit and even more awful hair axes a few zombies off camera before getting down to the business of reporting the end of the world.  With a wonderfully cheesy dramatic flair, Gloatt (who is slowly and hysterically turning into a zombie after suffering a bite to the neck) introduces a series of vignettes from around the world.  Interspersed among these stand-alone pieces are government PSAs designed to instruct the population on how to survive the zombie apocalypse.  The PSAs, grainily filmed Grindhouse style, poke great fun at zombie movie cliches and also pay tribute to classics like The Evil Dead.

As for the numerous vignettes, some are very good, some are very bad, and some are just fucking odd.  One of the odd tells of how Jesus botched the Lazarus miracle which leads to Jesus and Judas battling a swarm of zombie Hebrews, zombie Romans, and zombie cowboys (don't ask) with nothing but an endless supply of fish that Jesus uses like throwing knives.  Bizarre as this may be, even stranger is that rather than Aramaic, they speak Spanish.  Jesus eventually gets the miracle right by resurrecting Judas, who'd hanged himself.  There's irreverent and then there's this.  Devout Christians with no sense of humor beware.  The second oddest involves a man with impressive anger issues in Ibiza, Spain who is instructed by his doctor to take a holiday and by all means remain calm.  At the beach, green sea-zombies emerge from the water and attack the tourists in a most spectacularly gory fashion.  Our angry man keeps a smile pasted on his face and remains calm...until his Walkman dies.  He flips out and to say he goes medieval on the zombies' asses would be a colossal understatement.  At one point, he uses the corpse of a girl as a club.  You get the idea.  Both this and the Jesus story feature cartoonish, over the top gore that makes Peter Jackson's Dead Alive look like a Nickelodeon sitcom.

The best two come from Ireland and Australia.  The Ireland tale pays homage to Shaun of the Dead and is very funny.  A man returns to his flat to find his flatmate dying on the floor which prompts a monologue full of regret and reflection.  While lamenting the imminent death of his friend, said friend hands him a note explaining he's committing suicide because he hates his guts.  Bloody marvelous U.K. humor.  The polar opposite of this comes from Down Under where a lone woman is holed up in the countryside with her recently turned husband chained in the cellar.  This is a dark and often terrifying entry that eschews dialogue and background music in order to effectively tell a haunting story of loss and hopelessness.  Well done.

Oberst's Gloatt is the glue that keeps this film from collapsing under its own weight.  You must ignore the fact that these "reports" from around the globe can't possibly be on-the-spot journalistic items nor can they possibly coexist in the same world as Gloatt.  If you are able to suspend your disbelief in this regard, Zombieworld is campy, B-horror fun.  By the way, Gloatt eventually does turn.  Sorry, Bob.

The Skinny

Acting:  Oberst as Gloatt is a hoot (Ron Burgundy eat your heart out).  Another standout is Noe Blancafort as Judas.  Everyone else, especially the Ireland and Australia folks, do well enough.
Story:  Stories, really, and they're hit and miss.  The only one that I feel is truly unique is the "Fist of Jesus" segment.  Unique, however, does not necessarily translate into good.
Direction:  I couldn't even begin to critique the various styles involved here.  This project must have been an editor's worst nightmare.
Production Values:  Ranging from obviously cheap to not bad at all.  At least they're all on film and the sound and lighting doesn't suck.
Gore/FX:  Words are not sufficient to describe the level of gore you'll find here.  Weird, wild stuff.
Scares:  Only the tale from Australia come close.
Ending:  Unless you count Gloatt's transformation, there really isn't a denouement to speak of.  That's why anthology pieces aren't my emotional payoff.
Verdict:  Should you watch Zombieworld?  If you're a fan of zombie flicks or Oberst, then absolutely.  I'm both so it was a win-win for me,,,.with a heaping side helping of WTF.

Rating:  3 out of 5

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