Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cult Status – Can A Zombie Film Be Too Bad?

I recently signed up to Amazon Prime – no, this is not a plug for them – and the first thing I did was check out the zombie films. I was very pleased to see that there were a large number available including, I might add, the first four seasons of The Walking Dead – I missed a few episodes in season 2 and 3 when it put me to sleep.
 This has compelled me to review some of the more ‘out there’ films that mostly don’t get talked about because they have failed to get into the mainstream of Hollywood. Here is my first.
Among the Amazon Prime treasure trove is a film called“Apocalypse Z”. I read the write up and it sounded like a traditional zombie horror – or so I thought. I suspect the film was given this name and similar font to World War Z which came out at about the same time.

Firstly a little about the background of this potential ‘Cult Status’ film:

Its directors, Luca Boni and Marco Ristori, are also the authors of this unique film. It is filmed in northwest Italy in a little town called Bagnone. It had an estimated budget of one million dollars. So far, so good. The story again is quite traditional, laboratory experiments gone wrong, town infected, good ol’ boys from America sent in to save the day using a nuclear device to eradicate all traces of the illegal experimentation. Oh I forgot to say, it is supposed to be set in Romania. The quasi-military team is a bunch of misfits, the one that’s built like a brick shit house is only there because the general running the operation has his daughter as a hostage, so he’s the one we are supposed to fel sorry for. Another, played by ‘actor’ Mike Mitchell, is called John ‘Mad Dog’ McKellen and appears to be the explosives expert. The third member of the team, this time a young woman with a hard (and poorly acted) thousand yard stare, can best be described as Ginger Michone. They bump into a couple of tourists, strangely from America as well – I’m not going to say any more about them just yet other than to say that the bloke added an inimitable style and never before seen layer of sophistication and complexity to the film (I’m not if I’ve been able to make that come across as sarcastic).
About the zombies – the makeup was pretty good, quite convincing although one of them looked like something out of Resident Evil (Matt the police officer) after he had been experimented on.

So far it all sounds like it has all the makings of a good zombie film. Wrong. I’m not sure what the one million dollar budget was spent on, but it sure as hell wasn’t actors! I don’t think I’ve seen so much wooden acting since I last watched a Harrison Ford film. Actually I think I’m being a little unkind to Harrison Ford; from start to finish it felt like they were reading their lines from an idiot board. Groups of zombies, who were almost certainly the best actors, kept appearing from nowhere and making all the right sounds. They were easily put down by gunfire and Ginger Michone although I think it would have been just as easy for the actors to bore them to death. There was one amusing part: Uwe Boll played the part of the United States President – who said an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice dubbing artist couldn’t get the top job? It took me a moment to realise who he was supposed to be – in fact it wasn’t until one of them called him Mr President that it clicked. The cheap-looking, translucent Stars and Stripes flag from a 99c store hanging limply behind him did little to enhance this image.
So do I think the film could make cult status? No I don’t think so (I hope not), the actors were way too self-conscious at least when they were trying to act. I forced myself to watch the whole film so you don’t have to. Of course if you want to drink a lot and have some mates around then I suspect it can be endured and can even be the cause of some fun. It’s up to you, you have been warned. 


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