E1 Entertainment // 2013 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // August 30th, 2013
Welcome to zombie armageddon.
Supposedly an old Russian proverb says, "It's not that the bear dances well, but that it dances at all." The idea, of course, is that we're supposed to be impressed by the fact of something rare or difficult rather than by its quality. There was a time when zombie films were like the proverbial dancing bear; we took what we could get in decades where we'd be lucky to get a zombie flick a year and be happy with what we got. Then the twenty-first century dawned and zombies were suddenly the go-to figure for low-budget horror. Now fans can't turn around without finding another zombie movie in production. No longer do we have to wait even months between new zombie films, and frankly, fans can afford to be picky. In this climate, Zombie Massacre isn't really worth anyone's time, unless you want another excuse to laugh at Uwe Boll.
There's a chemical spill in Eastern Europe which unleashes a zombie outbreak. A team of soldiers led by American Jack Stone (Christian Boeving, The Last Resort) attempts to stop the outbreak and cover up the military experiments that led to the outbreak.
The thing that I can't get over with Zombie Massacre is how unnecessary it feels. On one level, it's a by-the-numbers zombie-action flick. It plays like the standard Uwe Boll-type film (though he produced and not directed this feature): establish a threat in the first act, then assemble a team of people to deal with it, and provide a bit of nudity and a few excuses for gore and "action" along the way. Those kinds of generic pleasures are okay, but we've seen them before, both from Boll and others.
On the flip side, though, Zombie Massacre doesn't take itself too seriously. There's a bunch of Germans giving us "American" accents, and Uwe Boll himself as the President. So we're not really supposed to take anything in the film too seriously. The film wants to have its cake and eat it, too, hoping to establish viewer interest in the action narrative while also making us laugh at it as well. It feels like we're being tricked as viewers, like the joke is on us rather than the genre or the filmmakers. If the action was better or the joke funnier then Zombie Massacre would be worth watching. As it is, neither side really delivers enough to make the film worth watching.
At least the Zombie Massacre (Blu-ray) is decent. The 2.39:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer is true to the digital source. Detail is strong throughout, showcasing the film's excellent makeup effects. Color is intentionally manipulated, with lots of desaturated scenes that try to sell the seriousness of the zombie situation. Black levels are pretty decent as well, with no compression artifacts to worry about. The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is similarly competent. Dialogue (German accents and all) is clean and clear from the front, while the surrounds get some use during action scenes and while providing atmosphere. The LFE gets some serious use as well.
Extras kick off with a 42-minute making-of featurette. It's half as long as the film and plays like an extended EPK featurette. That means lots of talking-head interviews with cast and crew combined with some behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the film. There's some good stuff here, mostly about the makeup, but it could have been condensed more effectively. We then get 3 minutes of storyboard materials, and the film's trailer. It's not bad for a low-budget zombie movie.
I can't attack the actual production of the film. A lot of love went into making the zombies, and if that kind of attention had been lavished on the script and the acting as well, then Zombie Massacre would be an above-average, if not great, zombie flick. Fans of zombie makeup who don't mind using the fast-forward button will see some pretty decent examples of the craft. I also think that Uwe Boll is pretty funny as the American President here. He's fully aware that he produces subpar films and loves to poke fun at his own macho image.
Zombie Massacre will appeal to a very narrow section of the viewing public. It's got some decent zombie effects going on in the very beginning and towards the end, which makes it a must for true zombie hounds. Everyone else, by which I mean anyone who cares about story, character, or not seeing the same zombie film over and over again, should probably avoid the film. At least those who rent it will get a solid presentation and some decent extras.
It's guilty, but that's the idea.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
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