Swamp Zombies (2005)
Starring Brian Heffron, Jasmin St. Claire, Pamela Sutch, Dan Severn
Directed by Len Kabasinski
When is a bad movie good? When the audience can sit back and enjoy nearly every minute the film is on screen. Swamp Zombies is just that kind of good time. Creator, director, and actor (billed as Leon South in the credits), Len Kabasinski put his heart and soul into Swamp Zombies. Kabasinski, who is a native of Erie, PA, notes Lloyd Kaufman and his outrageous Troma films and 70's Drive-In features as direct inspirations for the style used in the making of Swamp Zombies. Going into the viewing of this film with that information you are well aware that Mr. Kabasinski isn't expecting even the slightest nod from the Academy any time soon.
With top billed names who enjoy fame from wrestling celebrity to ex-porn stardem, how could you go wrong with Swamp Zombies? Brian Heffron, Jasmin St. Claire, Pamela Sutch and Dan Severn share the screen with a cast of local talent and newbies to "bring to life" this comedic, zombie romp. Chris Kuneman lends his make-up effects experience to the film as well. With such a diverse collection of talent and ability at his disposal, Len Kabasinski makes the most of it at every turn. Gratuitous violence, gore, sex, and nudity abound. The audience is also treated to several entertaining displays of martial arts thanks to Kabasinski's extensive knowledge and black belts in Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do.
Based on the script written by Kabasinski himself, Swamp Zombies begins when a local hospital where unlawful human experimentation has been taking place faces a surprise government inspection. The physician responsible, Dr. Phillips (played by Shannon Solo), decides to cut his losses and dump his recently departed test subjects into nearby swamps. It's better to start over fresh than get caught in the act of trying to revive the dead....Right? Like the movie's tagline says "In Science...You have to make sacrifices". Assisting Dr. Phillips with his plans is the lovely Lillian, played by Jasmin St.Claire, and a couple of hired goons.
Anxious fishermen and a stereotype filled class of school students and their inept teacher venture out on a seemingly ordinary, overnight field trip to collect samples in the local swamplands just in time to experience first hand the affects of the good Dr. Phillips' work. These unfortunate students, along with unknowing hospital staff, topless sun worshippers, a hermit, a couple of ass-kicking Park Rangers (Leon South and Monica Picirillo, who totally steal the show), and an unbelieving police team led by their Captain (Dan Severn) are forced to confront head-on the sudden onslaught of swamp zombies!
Although it is plain to see that this is a low budget, first attempt at film making for Len Kabasinski, Swamp Zombies is definitely everything that it promises...gore, action, and the always popular nudity! The film doesn't take itself too seriously which makes it far more enjoyable for folks who join Kabasinski in his love of 70's drive-in movies. The characters are easy to like, dislike or relate with, the action sequences and gore are enjoyable, and the zombie effects are fairly well done. Plus, who can fault a film with a gratuitous Jasmin St.Claire shower scene? Certain lines of the dialogue are hysterical and perfectly delivered even by the amature actors in the film, and I challenge you to find another film that uses a chocolate chip cookie so bloody brilliantly!
I had the opportunity to view Swamp Zombies at its Erie, PA premiere at the 2nd annual Eerie Horror Film Festival accompanied by a sold-out crowd! Swamp Zombies was just one of many enjoyable films shown during the festival. Meeting the director and some of his cast was a lot of fun, and it was easy to see that Len Kabasinski has a great deal of love and respect for the horror genre and all of the people who worked with him to bring his creation to the screen. I'm certain that as long as Mr. Kabasinski has the chance to be behind the camera, he will put his all into every aspect of his work. I believe we can all expect to see bigger and better things from him in the future.
As the opening film shown in the festival I was shocked at how much I enjoyed Swamp Zombies. I had been warned to beware of large amounts of tripe between a few gems by friends who were more familiar with film fests than I. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of great films I saw. Comparing this film to main stream films was never a consideration, but I thought it would be fair enough to judge it along side the other independant films in the festival. Keeping that in mind I would have to admit that as far as the overall quality of Swamp Zombies compared to the majority of the films at the festival, it didn't hold up as well as a lot of the others.
Clocking in at 2 hours, the film nearly wears out its welcome with the audience. With the proper cuts and a bit more editing the film could easily be brought down to a more reasonable and comfortable timeframe. Some of the action sequences were a bit drawn out and the effects weren't always exactly "effective". Sub-par acting is not a rarity in low-budget films and was certainly no stranger in Swamp Zombies. Although some of the shots and camera movements were very well done, the over-all "look" of the film was amature at best. There were small errors with the wardrobe continuity and make-up that didn't stay on the zombies. Yet even these simple critiques can be almost forgiven, when you realize that you are just having too much damn fun!
All-in-all though I would have to say that Swamp Zombies is a free-for-all, FUN-for-all film! I would recommend it to anyone who can appreciate fine "cheese". You are almost guaranteed to laugh out loud at the intended silliness on screen, cringe at gross out moments, and possibly even jump at a few well planned out scares. Don't see Swamp Zombies if you're expecting a perfect film, but if you have a sense of humor and want to have a great time this film will not disappoint.
3 out of 5
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