Zombies of Mass Destruction or, ZMD, is set on the small island of Fort Gamble, Washington, where the list of unsuspecting heroes include a gay couple, an Iranian girl and her outré father. Already from the outset it is apparent that writer and director, Kevin Hamedani that his horror-com is pushing the boundaries of traditional conventions with his playfulness of social and political satire throughout the film.
Not only is this film laced with irony and vast stereotypes of Americans but in addition, it’s actually quite different from the usual low-budget zombie-flick invasions that plague our screens year after year. The film obviously draws influence from George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1985), employing the classic slow moving zombie, rather than the super fast and energetic neo-zombie that we have become accustom to since Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later. It also has a distant reminiscence, comedy-wise, of Paul Wernick’s and Rhett Reese’s Zombieland (2009). Yet fails to live even remotely up to it.
The first thirty-minutes are bland and nothing really happens: you’re introduced to the main characters, a blind man pokes a zombie with his walking stick, the mayor of Port Gamble tries to recruit his opposition’s vote in the forthcoming election and a couple of hillbillies fill up their gas guzzler at the petrol station. Not exactly exhilarating or gripping footage. It’s clear from the beginning, intentional or not, that something about the residents of Port Gamble just doesn’t seem right.
Nevertheless, there are some satisfactory points to ZMD, the quirky characters, the irony, the diverting and fun relation to sub-genres throughout the film, the parody of the war on terror, the gore, the guts, zombies eating their own eyeballs, that sort of stuff. Holy mackerel! A little girl even gets run over by a car.
Unlike other recent zombie films of a similar budget, ZMD does succeed where they fail. It offers likable characters, a moderately interesting story line, a theme, metaphors and a couple of humorous moments that leave you with an appreciation of the film. There’s a moment when a typical hillbilly assumes that Frida’s character (Jannette Armand) is responsible for the zombie virus because he thinks she is from Iraq. No Mr. Hillbilly, she’s Iranian. Priceless stupidity.
However, the majority of the witticisms spectacularly fail, leaving you feeling embarrassed for the actors and crew. None of the characters are very relatable or make you empathize with their situation, creating a distant feeling for the viewer. The make-up is substandard and the acting is far below par, which to a degree is acceptable for a lower budget film but it’s clear that financial restrictions did affect the final product.
That Zombies of Mass Destruction bothered to include metaphors, morals and a theme brings a breath of fresh air among the low-budget independent swarm, who seem intent on supplying the viewer with nothing more than a 90 minute blood bath. This film will never be at the top of the DVD best sellers chart but it’s certain to have its own cult following.
ZMD is due for release on October 18.