I know, I know; pretty crappy title. But what’s in a name, anyway? DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK has a great name and it was … oh yeah; it was great. Well what about WISCONSIN PROJECT X? That’s a pretty bad title and the film was … damn; I’m not making a good case here!! What I’m trying to get across is that the title of a film doesn’t always reflect how good or bad a movie will be. Take POP PUNK ZOMBIES, for example (being released on December 6, 2011 by Brain Damage Films). It’s an unfortunately terrible name but the film itself is rather fun.
The film begins with a big time record producer Dameon David (get it … it’s a rip on “Diamond Dave”), played by actor Adam Hatfield, out in the cemetery with some others resurrecting the members of a deceased band. It seems the members of the punk group The Vicious Vegans met an untimely demise, and Dameon David still thinks there’s money to be made on them … a lot of money. The now-undead’s first gig is in a shitty little bar. Eddy (Ian Kane), who’s still pining over his ex-girlfriend Lisa (Laura Savage), is dragged to the concert my his buddy Ciez (Nick Marinnuci). Outside the bar they encounter a group protesting the use of the undead as “labour” and want to stop the concert before it snowballs into other jobs being filled by zombies. Soon after the concert starts a member of the protestors group runs to the stage with an ax and sets all the zombies free. Now the concert goers are trapped inside with the zombies.
The first thing you’ll notice is that this is a low budget film, with an estimated price tag of $5,000. The production values aren’t all that tight, but writer-director Steve Dayton does manage to get the most out of his budget. Some of the night shots are a little dark and washed out, but overall can can see that Dayton squeezed the life out of every penny in that $5,000. The main cast he put together also does a pretty good job. Our three to four main characters carry the film and it’s only the supporting cast that stumbles a bit in their roles.
The f/x work is a little inconsistent, which is expected with such a modest budget. Some zombies look great and others look like they got a little pancake makeup and fake blood thrown on them. And the zombies themselves are an interesting lot. I thought it was an interesting twist that everyone knew and accepted The Vicious Vegans were zombies. Dameon David used this fact to garner interest and buzz for the band’s ‘big comeback’. The protest group was a nice touch and I got the feeling that Dayton was trying to create some metaphor between the zombies and corporate greed and/or corrupt big business and maybe even the current unemployment problems, but nothing really solidified there. And as mentioned above, the zombies are a little inconsistent. When the zombie Vicious Vegans were walking up to the stage they were shambling very slowly and looked frail to the point of falling apart. But as soon as they hit the stage they grabbed their instruments and microphones and started dancing around and singing. I thought that was way too hokey and silly. Don’t get me wrong; this film doesn’t take itself seriously at all, but even so, this was a little corny.
After the zombies are released by the protestor they behave very inconsistently. Sometimes they were shambling things with zero intelligence. Other times they were running around attacking people and even setting traps. One character even mentioned that these zombies were stronger and more intelligent that the standard ‘movie zombie’ and they were getting stronger and smarter every minute. But this idea was never fully explored. Once the zombies were loose in the bar attacking everyone, it pretty much settles into your standard zombie flick …
… yet this film has a really fun energy to it and I found myself having a good time with it. There are parts in the middle where the film dragged on a bit, but overall the film moves along at a nice pace.
POP PUNK ZOMBIES is by no means a perfect film. More gore and a bigger budget would have made this one way more enjoyable, but for what writer-director Dayton had to work with, I think he put together a fun little zombie film. The zombie completist will definitely want to see this one, and people gathered together on a lazy Saturday night will also have fun with this one (as long as there’s some beer). Recommended.
Director: Steve Dayton (& writer)
Plot: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 4 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer