Mutant Vampire Zombies from the Hood! (2008)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring C. Thomas Howell, Tyshawn Bryant, Rachel Montez Collins, Johanna Watts, Robert Wu, Gregory Allan Williams
Directed by Thunder Levin
Mutant Vampire Zombies from the Hood! What a title. And what an opening title sequence too; bombastic superhero music and similar animated wording, the opening credits for Mutant Vampire Zombies from the Hood!'s splash across the screen in a manner very reminiscent to that of a Superman movie. It sent the message right off the bat to viewers that this was not going to be your typical zombie flick and that we should all prepare ourselves for a wild ride. Which is why I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed that Mutant Vampire Zombies from the Hood! never quite lived up to that initial promise.
This isn’t to say the film is a total dud because it's not. Heck, compared to low budget hip-hop zombie garbage like Zombiez...
Hang on. A cold shiver just ran down my spine from just mentioning the title of that awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful movie. God I hate that movie so.
Anyway, the point I was going to make is that compared to crap like that film and a plethora of other worthless no budget zombie flicks MVZFTH! for short is a perfectly fine zombie romp. But, and unfortunately I have to include a but, when it comes right down to it, well, let me put it this way, when a character actually yells "I have had it with these motherfuckin' zombies in my motherfuckin' hood!" you know the creative well only runs so deep and the film isn't anywhere as witty as it wants to be. You know the movie is set in the hood because pretty much every other sentence out of the mouths of most of the characters includes some variation of "fuck", "fuckin'", or "motherfucker".
C. Thomas Howell is David, a white cop in South Central, Los Angeles. Tyshawn Bryant is G-Dog, the leader of the local black gang. Robert Wu is Dragon, the leader of a rival Asian gang. The two gangs are making a deal in a warehouse. David and his partner are hiding in the rafters waiting to make the bust despite being vastly outnumbered and having no police back-up in the vicinity. The deal goes sour. Everyone begins shooting at everyone else. David's partner is critically injured. Right then a massive solar flare hits Earth. Everyone in the warehouse passes out; when they come to a few hours later, it's a whole new world.
So after a set-up along the lines of Night of the Comet with those inside being shielded from the cosmic event and radiation-scarred zombies prowling the otherwise empty streets, MVZFTH! very quickly settles into all-too-familiar zombie movie territory. David, G-Dog, Dragon, their gangs, and a few other survivors they come upon have to trek the dangerous streets to the barricaded home of an astrophysicist (Gregory Allan Williams, AKA the "Baywatch" black cop on the four-wheeler) who managed to send out a televised SOS to any other survivors in the vicinity. The astrophysicist has a really hot daughter, also a scientist; she's been studying corpses of mutant vampire zombies to see what makes them tick.
Now about the mutant vampire zombies, really, they're pretty much just typical zombies that happen to feed on blood instead of eating human flesh or brains. We're told a few have actually managed to maintain some level of human intelligence; these smarter mutant vampire zombies get little screen time, unfortunately. The film's best (and all too brief) sequence has the group being taken captive in a strip club where one of these zombies with smarts has set-up shop. Mostly though, the zombies are just your typical b-movie zombies that do a lot of biting and ripping apart until the good guys begin using them as target practice; or in the case of Dragon, kung fus the crap out of them.
On the one hand you have to admire the way the filmmakers pulled some of this stuff off with what was obviously a very low budget; for example, a scene where the group guns down a small army of zombies. On the other hand, the way it’s all shot with actors shown shooting randomly intercut with random zombies falling dead shots; that isn't all that exciting or spectacular. Still, the effort deserves some applause compared to so many other low budget zombie movies to come along of late. I again refer you to Zombiez.
Okay, there is one other twist to these zombies of note. They're not just mutant vampire zombies. They're actually horny mutant vampire zombies! Get their hands on a pretty girl and the zombies might be more inclined to drop their pants. Or as one horny mutant vampire zombie does, jerks himself off with a woman's severed head.
Speaking of horny, the much older Howell and the much younger and hotter scientist daughter develop a romance - an unlikely romance if you ask me. Then again, when 99.9% of the Earth's population has been wiped out I guess a hot chick can't be too picky anymore. Problems arise for everyone when the two of them start doing it right there on the balcony in front of a bunch of zombies who get so worked up into a frenzy watching that they trash the gate and storm the house.
I don't know. Maybe I'm just a hard sell because I'm totally burned out on the zombie movie subgenre as a whole. Too often MVZFTH! felt like another rehash of the "same old, same old" enlivened by some genuine enthusiasm on the part of the cast and filmmakers. The second half when they first encounter the smarter zombies and then reach the scientist's compound is much better than the tiresome opening half that plays like just another Romero-esque zombie movie with a hip-hop twist. I don't know exactly what I was expecting from this movie - something a little wilder, a little crazier, a bit more inspired, so I ended up coming away mildly disappointed even though it really isn't that bad a movie. It’s definitely not the instant cult classic it wants to be.
2 1/2 out of 5