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Zombiez (2005)

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Starring Jenecia Garcia and the sorriest excuses for zombies ever put to film

Directed by “ZWS”


Back in my Creature Corner reviewing days I kept pestering Butane and Rotten to create some sort of negative star rating for the movies I viewed that were utterly worthless in every way imaginable. I pretty much got my wish here at Dread Central in the form of the “Broken Mug” rating. Now that I’ve viewed Zombiez I feel the need to request the creation of an even lower rating, preferably an image of me slitting my wrists with the broken mug.

I used to hold up films like S.I.C.K. and Frost: Portrait of a Vampire as the measuring sticks by which I judged the absolute worst of the direct-to-video horror genre but unlike Zombiez, at least those two films had actual storylines and not just a camera following someone around for 85 minutes. I’m betting the Zombiez screenplay was nothing more than five pages long, most likely scribbled in a notebook, and the cost of purchasing that notebook comprised about 80% of the film’s budget. Dialogue is at a minimum, and that’s perfectly understandable since the plot is non-existent. You have no real clue what is going on, most of what’s going on consists of stuff that would end up on the cutting room floor of any real film, and we never even get an explanation as to why there are zombies running amok.

Be warned: the eye-catching box art is in no way reflective of the film’s content. There are no rotting corpses walking around in this movie. What this movie calls zombies you and I would call everyday people with some blood splattered on their clothes that cackle, howl, moan, and make crazy faces. It’s obvious that some of the extras playing these zombies were having much more fun than anyone watching the movie because a few are visibly laughing and smiling. Some of the zombies can think and talk and others are basically mongoloid in nature, and never are we given any insight as to the how or why of either. These zombies also have a tendency to carry sickles and butcher knives, the obviously fake kind you can get at a costume shop or novelty store come Halloween. When they swarm around a victim and chop them to death with their blades it’s like when you’re play fighting with someone and you pretend to punch them by moving your arm in a deliberate manner stopping short of actually making contact. Like everything else involving the zombies in this movie, it’s embarrassing to watch.

The movie begins at the Purgatory Construction Company that is as the on-screen graphic tells us, “20 miles from functional plumbing”. I think that was supposed to mean the company was located in a rural location but that can’t be right since you can clearly see other buildings all over the place. Right then and there I knew I was in big trouble with this one.

Our main character is a young African-American woman named Josephine. Other than the fact that she works for this construction company and is married, her name is about all there is to her character. She witnesses a zombie attack and then gets chased by them herself, at least until they’re scared off by the sound of police sirens. Yes, according to this movie, black zombies know to run from the law. I don’t know whether I should laugh at this bit of racial stereotyping or be flabbergasted.

Traumatized, she goes home to the comforting arms of her husband. Moments later, zombies are at her door trying to break in. Josephine clearly married the stupidest man ever to walk the earth because killers are trying to break into his house and yet he angrily opens the door to yell at them. He ends up getting yanked outside The Fog-style and Josephine gets knocked unconscious only to awaken and find herself tied up in a warehouse where her husband is getting tortured by a guy that may or may not be a zombie but definitely looks like he got lost on his way to the Sturgis biker blowout.

She escapes and runs down the empty streets for what seems like an eternity only for the scene to finally fade out. When it fades in she’s in the woods all of a sudden for even more aimless walking before getting chased by yet more zombies. She ends up taking refuge with some guy inside a tiny dilapidated shack that is clearly bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. He eventually picks up a butcher knife of his own (I swear someone needs to alert the Guinness Book of World Records people because this movie must have set some sort of record for most butcher knives ever seen in a single motion picture) and runs off the zombies. Yes, one man swinging a butcher knife manages to send about a dozen flesh-craving zombies fleeing in terror. Josephine ends up leaving the guy behind where the zombies eventually get over their fear of having meat cleavers swung at them and, as the zombies in this movie do to every victim they feast upon, proceed to slice his belly open and feed on the entrails the director picked up at the supermarket that day.

For somewhere in the vicinity of 5-10 minutes, all we see is Josephine wandering through the woods, struggling to cross a stream, climbing rocks, and then wandering out into the road where she causes a car to wreck (off-camera because this movie couldn’t afford to show you a real car accident) only to have the unknown driver fall out with market-fresh guts pouring from her stomach. She spies some zombies that are actually standing around pointing and laughing at her so she grabs some items from out of the car, makes a Molotov cocktail, and incinerates them. Actually, it was more of a Molotov smoke bomb because this movie couldn’t even afford fire effects.

So after having spent the last half hour or more watching this woman run for her life through the woods with no clue where she thinks she might be going, what does Josephine do next? She decides to go back and save her husband even though she has no reason to even believe he’s alive. She goes to climb back down those rocks and ends up breaking her ankle. If you were impressed with the instant Molotov cocktail she constructed, then wait until you see her spend several minutes resetting the bone and constructing the flimsiest shin splint ever made using a couple of twigs loosely tied together with a strip of fabric she tore off her shirt. Josephine then hobbles back to the construction company where she is immediately knocked unconscious and taken captive again.

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All this nonsense in the woods that took up nearly a third of the movie was just pointless crap. We’re back to square one. Pardon me while I vent again.

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have I even mentioned the score? It consists of four different hip-hop riffs that are each composed of the same four notes repeated ad nauseum to the point of becoming the musical equivalent of Chinese water torture.

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Enter a new character simply called “The Dr.”, who may or may not be a zombie because like everything else we’re never told for sure. He claims to be the leader of the zombies and talks of building an army and retaking the streets or something vague along those lines. The zombies he commands all talk and act like dimwitted petty street thugs armed with butcher knives. Since the opening of the movie began with a definition/explanation as to what a zombie is with emphasis on the voodoo origins of the term, I kept waiting for The Dr. to reveal that he was behind it all and that the zombies were just people on the street he used that voodoo drug on to turn into his zombie minions. It never comes. No explanation of any kind about anything ever comes.

At this point the movie gets all weird as The Dr. is shown shooting at a man in a chicken suit likes it’s a carnival game, workers are shown loading flesh-filled boxes labeled meat pies into a truck, and definitions for the words “despair” and “revenge” appear on-screen. Again, no clue is given for any of this, especially the definitions. If the director intended for this movie to be some sort of metaphorical, surrealist horror film, which is the only explanation I can come up with, then he failed as badly as any director could possibly fail.

In the end, Josephine battles “The Dr.” in a one-on-one brawl that features fight choreography so pathetic it may very well have been patterned after the Timmy/Jimmy cripple fight episode of “South Park”. It should be noted that during this fight Josephine has no trouble walking and jumping around on her broken ankle nor does she have any problem punching the guy with the same hand from which she just lost one of her fingers. The zombies are nowhere to be found during the climax, and the credits roll almost as soon as the fight concludes so Zombiez never gives any explanation for anything going on and the finale of the movie doesn’t even involve zombies. One more time!

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No scares! No plot! No point! No clue!

Doing a little investigating I’ve come to the conclusion that director “ZWS” is actually a pseudonym for Z. Winston Brown, the director of last year’s similarly themed Vampiyaz. If I am incorrect, then I apologize to Mr. Brown for even associating his name with an atrocity like Zombiez but I’m fairly certain I have the correct culprit. Like everything else about this movie I have no idea why he chose to use an “Alan Smithee” other than he must have actually watched his own movie and realized this could destroy what little career he has. It would be a damn shame if the failure of this film deprived him of the chance to make Werewolvz, Mummiez, and Witchez.

Back in the heyday of blacksploitation cinema we got wonderful junk like Blacula and Blackenstein. Today we get hip-hop horror in the form of worthless trash like Zombiez. This film is an insult not only to the viewing audience but also to every guerilla filmmaker out there that actually attempts to craft a worthwhile movie out of nothing. That a credible company like Lions Gate would release something this pathetic on DVD with such deceptive artwork only makes things that much more appalling.

Remember in Fight Club when they talked about who they would fight if they could fight anyone? I now know my pick. I wanna fight the guy at Lions Gate that approved the Zombiez DVD release. That guy needs an ass kicking of biblical proportions, and I’m ready to open a whole keg of whoop ass.


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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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User Rating 4.43 (7 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.9 (10 votes)
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The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!

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Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

Directed by Alan Lougher


The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

  • Film
3.5

Summary

Ultimately chilling in nature!

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User Rating 3.31 (16 votes)
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