American Zombie (2007)
Directed by Grace Lee
Tired of zombies yet?
Well with the soon to be released Day of the Dead remake on the horizon, this little mockumentary takes the ease off of the gore, splatter, rapid gunfire Romero-topia we've all gotten use to.
Plot-o-matic tell us that real life documenary filmmakers Grace Lee and John Solomon (playing themselves) decide to make a documentary on zombies.
It seems zombies or "revenants" have become a growing populace in Los Angeles but are suffering the pitfalls of any fringe group in our society. They all are trying to live normal lives but they are discriminated, shunned and mocked.
The "ha ha" moment comes in the different types of zombies. Feral, low-functioning and high-functioning. The virus that creates the living dead is spread through bites and the documentary explores 4 distinct zombies, their lives and concludes with a visit to the annual Live Dead festival.
Got all that?
American Zombie is like playing Ro-Sham-Bo (aka Rock, S, Paper).
Let's dig further shall we using this analogy.
American Zombie rocks in the way of humor. And the humor pours out of the 4 main zombies we follow throughout the flick. Ivan, the zombie slacker, Judy the Asian zombie, cat loving, lonely vegan, Joel the militant, zombie activist and Lisa the string art void, florist.
Spinal Tap-ish and even Michael Moore-ish with its oozing sarcasm, the zombie jokes are a plenty like in a scene as Solomon seaches for "human flesh" in each subject's fridge. All the zombies are unique and quirky with personalities that are outright nuts. They all could be non zombies and it still would be hypnotic to watch.
Ivan the 7-11 slacker undead dude has a girlfriend with a zombie fetish (I mean even famous convicts have groupies right?). Judy's obssessive scrapbooking hobby and Joel's Zombie Advocacy Group are right on in the world of the Guiness Book of the Weird.
The satire is SMACK in your face. Obviously, Lee is telling us zombies represent any minority in America whose been shunned, downtrodded (is that a word?) and forgotten. All minorities have rights and want to be treated as equal even if your rotting away and have maggot infested wounds. It's different to see this done with the undead and thats why it rocked.
It's a cut above any zombie movie that uses zombies as a metaphor (ahem Mr. Romero). The conclusion at the Live Dead festival and it's "shocking" twist was well Nostradamused by me 10 minutes into the movie. However, American Zombie tried to figure out what it wanted to be scene after scene. Comedy, Moore-ish seriousness or horror. In the end, it went the serious-horror route.
The paper analogy comes in the blankness of it all. A pseudo documentary can accomplish satire and be funny all at the same time. The ending was blank of satire and turned into a cliched horror of the dead ending. The engine started running but by the conclusion, American Zombie ran out of gas.
So where was I going with this?
Oh yeah. American Zombie is a great flick, with some scattered flaws and good amount of laughs.
Just like Ro-Sham-Bo, I didn't know what was going to be thrown. Rock? Paper? Scissors?
I thought it was going to be rock.
Nah, it's gonna be scissors for sure.
You tell me.
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