Alternative Cinema // 2011 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // August 30th, 2012
What's grosser than a pile of dead babies?
Though people on both sides of the aisle would be loath to admit it, there isn't much substantial difference between the two main parties in American politics. Most national-level politicians get campaign donations from companies that donate to both parties. When an election comes up, though, the candidates need an issue on which they don't agree but that isn't really central to what the politician will be doing for their term in office. Consequently, ideological battles get fought over issues that don't fundamentally address the vast similarities between the two parties. Abortion is one such issue. Whether abortion is legal or illegal, Democrats and Republicans will still mostly agree on most of the issues and still get funded by the same corporations. However, abortion still gets to be a hot-button issue, which means that aspiring indie filmmakers can turn a buck playing on society's charged emotions surrounding the topic. That's why we get a film like Zombie Babies, which takes on abortion and zombies in an ultra-gory mix that will leave most viewers offended. Those who stick around, though, will enjoy some goofy fun.
Burt Fleming (Brian Gunnoe, Porkchop) has pioneered a low-cost abortion procedure, only $30. Because he's not really a doctor, though, he keeps his operation on the down-low, working out of his motel. One night, a quartet of couples shows up to partake of Burt's procedure, but when the dead babies get mixed up with Burt's moonshine, they become the reanimated dead.
It had to happen eventually. Zombies have come in all shapes and sizes since George Romero kicked off the modern zombie craze in 1968. Skinny zombies, fat zombies, old zombies, young zombies, men and women alike have come back to life. There was even a zombie baby in Zach Snyder's remake of Dawn of the Dead. Nobody has yet, to my knowledge, made a film entirely about zombie babies before. Luckily, fans of the low-budget zombie picture now have Zombie Babies to fill the tiny void left by the lack of infant undead.
Usually, zombies are used as social commentary. The classic moments in Night of the Living Dead comment on race relations, and Dawn of the Dead is famous for its take on consumerism. Even funnier films like Return of the Living Dead and Poultrygeist have points to make (about the threat of nuclear war and the stealing of tribal lands, respectively). Zombie Babies doesn't really have any of that. The really pedantic might see it as a cautionary tale about the dangers of abortion, but youâ€™d have to have be pretty hardcore to see it that way.
Instead, the film isn't trying to make viewers think. No, Zombie Babies provokes three responses (maybe all at once). The first is offense. The sensitive should not watch this film. Abortion is just a thing in this movie that people do to make a buck, and the tender lives of late-term fetuses are treated as the engine for the plot, not as tiny entities to be cherished. This film wants to offend even the most jaded viewers. Part of the way it hopes to offend are in the other two responses the film asks for. The first is laughter. The filmmakers think that abortion and zombie babies are pretty funny. As a jaded viewer of numerous horror-comedies, I tend to agree with them. This film doesn't take abortion seriously, and the zombie babies, while not cute, are not really meant to be menacing, either. Finally, the film wants to be funny and offensive by being gory. Though many of the special effects are CGI-based (and therefore not terribly convincing). the whole abortion/dead-baby phenomena gets portrayed with enough blood and gore shots to keep all but the most jaded gorehounds happy.
Of course I think of the above as a rousing endorsement, assuming the viewer isn't easily offended and is otherwise into low-budget horror-comedies. However, the film isn't perfect even for genre addicts. The CGI is a bit heavy handed at times, and zombie babies do not really make effective threats. That leaves the film with not much to do between the introduction of the babies and the final confrontation. The second act therefore slows down a bit more than I'd like, though having a beer or two while viewing would significantly mitigate this reaction.
The DVD is as strong as the film is strange. The standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic image keeps the film's low-budget origins intact. Colors are shifty, black levels inconsistent, and detail variable, but that suits the low-rent feel of the whole enterprise. The stereo audio keeps dialogue audible, though it offers very little beyond that. Extras include a fine commentary and a behind-the-scenes featurette, along with some trailers.
Just the title Zombie Babies is enough for most viewers. If that sounds like the funniest thing since Dead Alive, then this flick is for you. If abortion or dead babies make you squirm, this is a film to avoid.
Guilty...but that's the idea.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Alternative Cinema
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated