The only differences between "Zombie Planet" and "Animal Planet," says Judge David Johnson, are the zombies.
You are what they eat.
Part one of a zero-budget zombie post-apocalyptic cautionary tale.
Facts of the Case
Okay here's the deal. In the future, the population has risen to unmanageable numbers. Numbed by home entertainment and morbidly obese, humanity yearns for a quick fix to their problems. Diabolical pharmaceutical companies apparently take a break from churning out male enhancement drugs and develop a volatile appetite suppressant.
Unfortunately, the drugs turn people into flesh-eating zombies, and the world ends. So there you go. F***ing drug companies.
>From the ashes of civilization several social classes have formed: The Dregs are the rag-tag group of survivors, plucky and nice to each other. Lording over them is The Upper Class, the ruthless band of hard-asses that run around with rock-star make-up and skateboard clothes. And through it all the zombies wander around, preying on anything they can get their undead mitts on.
Out of nowhere, a mysterious traveler skilled at beating the porridge out of zombies shows up at the Dregs' hangout. Known only as "Kane" (Frank Farhat), this enigmatic butt-kicker—a loner, by the way—gets mixed up with the politics of the wasteland, unending streams of the walking dead, the romantic advances of a bodacious (though exceptionally grubby) survivor, and the power-hungry leader of The Upper Class, Adam (Christopher Rose).
Writer and director George Bonilla has an epic vision. That's the only rationale I can drum up for the ridiculous length of this film—119 minutes! Two hours of low, low budget filmmaking and amateurish acting…and this is only part one! The film ends on a cliffhanger, so don't expect any kind of closure to this saga, though a trailer for Zombie Planet 2 is included to whet your appetite.
Let me give Mr. Bonilla some props: this guy did a lot with a little. Despite the glaring home-video look of the film stock, he manages to put together an okay-looking movie. His gore effects are solid as well, with much blood flowing, some intestines gnawed upon, and a load of drooling fluid. Likewise, the makeup effects are impressive for this type of flick. The zombies are nicely done, as are as the various emaciated corpses.
Even his fight-and-flight action scenes are better than the average Z-grade gore flick, despite their unnecessary length. And that's what ultimately blows about Zombie Planet. So long…So…very…long.
And you have to fill that copious runtime with something. Unfortunately for the viewer, that filler is pretty much the cinematic equivalent of compost. Bloated stretches of poorly-written dialogue, some weird dream sequences for Kane (there's a real original post-apocalyptic hero name for you; some day I'd like to see the dark and mysterious "Stan" emerge from the charred remains of the world to lead the forces of good), Adam droning on and on in faux sinister-speak, ham-fisted exposition, the musings of poorly dressed end-time refugees (Goodwill seems to be the only chain of store to survive), and a—accch—love story.
But it's just the beginning kids! Kane and Adam's tale will continue on in the sequel!
Zombie Planet comes in full-screen crapness, but thanks primarily to Bonilla's deftness at getting more bang for his buck from his video equipment, the picture holds it own much better than movies of similar ilk. A Dolby 2.0 mix does its job and little else.
Two commentary tracks scratch the collective itches of all of you who wonder how movies like this come to be. Bonilla and the cinematographers each lend their insight, with the former's track the most entertaining. He's obviously very proud of his work; and while that's certainly not a bad thing, his pride sometimes spills over the boundaries of reality. At one point he comments on the visual gags he places in his movies ("hundreds"), and that if you watch it over and over and over again you, the viewer, will pick them up. Right.
In the niche it occupies, Zombie Planet is superior to its brethren. But is it worth your nickel? Yeah, maybe a nickel.
Guilty of general cheapness, but the court is feeling generous. Paroled.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Tempe Video
• Two Audio Commentary Tracks
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