FEARNET Movie Review - Zombies of Mass Destruction


Given the foundation laid down by George Romero in his 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead, its 1978 follow-up Dawn of the Dead, and the underrated 1985 entry Day of the Dead, it comes as no surprise when a young filmmaker approaches the zombie flick with equal parts enthusiasm and admiration. Buried (just) beneath the surface of Night, Dawn and Day are huge springs of basic-yet-fascinating social commentary. In the '60s the zombies may have represented social unrest and racial stress; the '70s version represented non-stop consumerism and basic conformity; the '80s ones were military-minded and financially destitute.

So clearly you needn't be a master sociologist to get the point: if you have a halfway interesting message to impart about humanity in general, only you want to do it in a broad, colorful, and gory fashion, go on out and make a zombie flick. But be sure you actually have an interesting point or two to make; otherwise your audience is stuck watching (yet another) empty-minded zombie film that copies the look of the Romero films -- but very little else.

Kevin Hamedani's ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction is most assuredly a mixed bag -- it takes a while to warm up, and it's loaded with basic "first-time low budget" shortcomings -- but the attempt at something intelligently Romero-esque is definitely there. So while several of the performances are decidedly raw and the flick has some serious pacing issues here and there, it's reassuring to note that the next generation of zombie-lovin' movie-makers can acknowledge how nifty the zombie can be on a metaphorical level ... but not at the expense of a broad and powerfully bloody mayhem.

The action begins on the small island of Fort Gamble, Washington, and it seems that our heroes are ... a gay couple and an Iranian woman? Heck, already Zombies of Mass Destruction is having a little fun with the conventions of the sub-genre. As much as ZMD is about folks being trapped on an island overrun by zombies, it's also an obvious but amusing collection of social satire and "special interest" commentary. Some of Hamedani's gags are obvious and therefore hit the screen with a mild thud, but he also nails a few of his targets with firm accuracy. And aside from the slow set-up and borderline-languid character introductions, once Zombies of Mass Destruction gets rolling (particularly in Act III) there's an unexpected batch of fun to be found here. The flick is populated by an eclectic array of broad American stereotypes, which helps the comedy (early) and the horror (late). 

If the socio-political messages of Zombies of Mass Destruction are A) broadly obvious and B) delivered with the subtlety of a jackhammer, and they are, then at least you know you're dealing with a horror comedy that bothers to attempt some sort of topicality. How well the punchlines and messages of ZMD will age after ten years on the shelf remains to be seen, but even without its commitment to the late-'90s (societal / political / militaristic) issues, the flick still works as a punchy, funny, gory little zombie flick. Certainly not on the scale of a Romero, but at least these filmmakers paid some attention in zombie class.