ZMD : Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009)

Based in the sleepy Washington town of Port Gamble, ZMD features a number of disconnected townsfolk fight against zombie hordes, the religious right, and casual xenophobia in this satirical zombie comedy.

Zombies Of Mass Destruction is a slightly too on-the-nose allegory of the current Iraq war, leaving no room for interpretation. Even the title is a bad joke. Continuing in this vein, the humour is a mixed bag. Some broad swipes at stereotypes and the news media that hit the target, and some attempts at silly slapstick that are miles wide. The shifts between high and low brow are almost tectonic and confusing to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, the jokes come at a near breakneck pace, but only around a third of them will raise anything more than a mild smirk. I get the impression that every level of humour was employed in order to make this movie more acceptable for the masses, and while it is nice that most people will find something humorous in here, it really works to the detriment of the film.

Although the real kicker is the production value, the film harkens back to the Camcorder Coppola zombie flicks of the mid 90′s, bleary, washed-out, and devoid of decent lighting. While it is admirable that the films pacing and shooting style mean that the almost ninety minute running time zips by, the whole film just looks entirely amateur. The sheer volume of protagonists mean that each character is given the bare minimum of development, you simply don’t care who lives or dies. Plot strands are begun, and then almost immediately abandoned and the ending leaves you questioning exactly what it was you have just witnessed. Don’t even get me started on the tacked on, half-baked final scene which left me furiously scratching my head until I almost broke the skin.

Lashings of gore, and some fairly decent make up litter the film but with no emotion or excitement to hang it on, those scenes just appear as window dressing. It is clear to see where the bulk of the presumably meagre budget was spent. A few awful performances from peripheral actors cheapen the mostly bang up job done by those getting the most screen time, Janette Armand (Frida) is perfect for a WB style teen drama, and Doug Fahl has some real stand out moments. Although the script contains a few zingers, the bulk of the dialogue stinks likes last week’s mouldy corpses so it is a testament to their talent that these actors come across as well as they do.

Purists may enjoy the shambling undead of Romero’s heyday, and even a nod to his social commentary, but this is light years away from those genre classics. Sure, the satire makes targeted jabs at everything currently wrong with America’s climate of fear, but the inconsistent humour mixed with the dreadful appearance show that this does not deserve to be lauded along with recent zom-coms such as Shaun Of The Dead or Zombieland. Amusing enough, certainly not boring, but ultimately average.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

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