Bong of the Dead (2011)

Directed By: Thomas Newman
Written By: Thomas Newman
Starring: Mark Wynn
  Jy Harris
  Simone Bailly
  Barry Nerling
Bong of the Dead

Seriously sick, seriously twisted and seriously fun – if the title appeals, the film certainly will. Bong of the Dead is a ridiculous, bloody, puerile, childish, drug-addled death fest of cannabis, violence and zombies. Perhaps best watched under – erm – intoxicated conditions, this is a crazy romp unlike anything you’ve ever seen before…

Bong of the Dead is the story of two wasters, pot-smoking their way through the zombie apocalypse. Pot curator Edwin (Mark Wynn) has made a startling scientific breakthrough, much to best-friend Tommy’s (Jy Harris) amazement -

“You’ve discovered ourselves some kind of fucked up zombie fertilizer… for growing fucking killer weed!!”

- Yep. By removing a zombie’s brain, drying it out and mixing the powdery residue with H2O, Edwin has created a super-fast liquid fertilizer that makes cannabis plants grow in a matter of SECONDS. Winner!

Sadly for Edwin and Tommy, however, they’re fresh out of cannabis and fresh out of zombie juice. Their only option is to head into one of the government-cordoned “Danger Zones” in order to find more zombie braaaaains. Ironic, huh?

Edwin is sceptical “We could die!”

Tommy checks reality “Yeah, and we could die if we don’t get any more weed.”

Well obviously. So the two stoners trek outside of their flat and into the most dangerous place in the world, in the hope they can capture, kill and steal enough zombie brains to keep them high forever. It’s a barmy concept, and – again – only sellable if you’re a little intoxicated yourself. It’s not one for Grandma, unless she’s a junkie or absolutely mental.

So is it any good? Bong of the Dead is difficult to digest. Clearly made with lots of love and one giant spliff jammed firmly in the gob, this is the budget equivalent of George A. Romero’s “Dude, Where’s My Car” with Jay and Silent Bob, and is certainly a lot of fun and thoroughly enjoyable. With a character list including Robot Zombie, Vagina Face and Lesbian Zombie, there is little to be taken seriously, with no discernible message, themes or clear goals even remotely poking their heads out of the smoke-addled plot. It’s hugely stupid, but very hard to dislike – if you’re in the right mood, this is an absolute laugh-riot.

There are, however, a number of genuine faults. The dialogue has clearly been added in post production, and although it’s mostly in-sync, it just sounds wrong. It’s difficult to complain about considering Bong of the Dead was filmed with one camera, no sound and edited on a Mac Book Pro in creator Thomas Newman’s basement. A little sound awkwardness is probably irrelevant if you’re actually enjoying this film, but it’s worth noting…

The film also sags significantly in the middle, when a whole host of scenes surrounding a zombie-powered outdoor shower fall flat and are simply far less important than the characters make them out to be. Even for the most patient of viewers, this section might be a little tiresome.

Despite the occasional blip in interest, the best scenes are yet to come, especially once Edwin and Tommy have teamed up with kick-ass mechanic Leah (Simone Bailly) and built a zombie-killing truck complete with lawn-mowers and one randomly acquired gatling gun (where did that come from?!). Blood, torn limbs, CGI head explosions, blood, guts, more blood and one evil-looking zombie baby; the last twenty minutes are insane and gleefully gory.

Clearly made on a tight budget with perhaps too much reliance on CGI blood effects, this is not Hollywood glossy, so those who have a snobbish view on low-budget best avoid it. I have seen a worryingly large number of low-budget zombie films, but this is probably the best, and apparently made for a measly $5000. Most Hollywood films spend more than that on catering…

So who made this? Creator Thomas Newman cites himself as director, writer, composer, cinematographer, art director, foley talent, digital compositor, title sequence animator, camera operator, animation director, on-line editor and is also the voice of a TV & radio presenter. For a film made by one man and an army of friends and family, Bong of the Dead is excellent. Despite the film’s faults, Thomas Newman should be bloody proud.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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