Thursday, August 12, 2010

Forget it, Jake. It’s Zombie Town

Zombie Town
Dir. Damon Lemay


Shaun Jake LaFond is just a poor British New England slacker working a soul sucking job at an electronics store a gas station when a convenient zom-pocalypse finally gives him the chance to sort life out and maybe get back with the girlfriend who had the good sense to (briefly) flee their dead end Vermont town. As you may have guessed, Zombie Town, director Damon Lemay’s sole, direct to video behind-the-camera credit is another entry in the growing micro-genre of slacker zom-coms. Not as good as Shaun of the Dead and certainly not as bad as the worst, Zombie Town is a passable 90 minutes of flesh munching with the occasional attempt at funny.

Zombology: Unlike their legion of brethren, Zombie Town’s reanimated corpses are not the byproduct of military experiments, voodoo gone awry, chemical spills or alien flu viruses. Rather, these shambling cannibals have been infected with parasitic hookworms that latch on to their hosts’ spine, infecting them with a variant of the rabies virus that causes them to lust for human flesh (all conveniently explained in a lengthy block of exposition after Jake’s biologist ex-girlfriend dissects a single specimen). And as Rob reminded me, yes, that’s pretty much lifted whole from Night of the Creeps.

Shot on a hand-held camera, Zombie Town has a shaky, jittery vibe I’m not entirely certain is intentional because it doesn’t quite add a sense of verite to the proceedings.
The special effects, particularly on the spinal parasites, are rather impressive for such a no-budget outing. In one jail sequence, the (stop motion?) slugs squish their way across the room with an appropriately Jan Svankmajer squickiness. The non-zombie scenes tend to drag as the local sheriff acts way too blasé about a triple homicide, cannibal murder suspect and a tractor trailer accident that conveniently blocks the only road out of town and knocks out all the phones. Things eventually pick up once the zombies get all bitey on the local bingo parlor (“It’s like a goddamn grandma massacre in here,” local snow plow operator/bully/That 70s Show reject Randy offers). From that point there’s not a moment that isn’t painfully obvious to anyone who’s even fleetingly familiar with horror film convention, but at least it’s an entertaining orgy of chainsaw amputations, gaping rifle wounds and free-flowing buckets of tinted Karo syrup.

Zombie Town only sucks 35 percent as bad Hell of the Living Dead.

1 comment: