Z: A Zombie Musical (2006)
Starring Hanna Hardin, Hallie Martin, Tiffany Janssen, Rob Faubion, and Joe "King" Carrasco
Directed by John McLean
In this day and age of the incessant remake and lazy producers, it is truly great to see something original come down the pike. Even if it is weird. And a musical. Texas film maker John McLean has thrown all caution to the wind, and succeeded in creating a funny, quirky film with his production of Z: A Zombie Musical.
Z follows the exploits of three nuns, Hope, Faith and Charity, who, while bathing in a lake, are bitten by a zombie-infected pug. Stay with me now, because it gets stranger. As they begin to develop more zombie-like attributes, the three find their way to "Zomburbia," a housing development that has been taken over by zombies. But these are not the typical rotting-flesh-Romero-esque zombies. These are singing, dancing, group-sex-having zombies that just seem to want to get on with their afterlife. The three are welcomed into the town with open arms, given makeovers to become hot goth zombies, and try to adjust, all they while trying to find a way out of their zombified condition.
Watching this movie, I felt a bit like what I imagine the first person to watch Rocky Horror Picture Show felt like. I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking at, but I knew I liked it, and that there was something special about it. Maybe it was the sense of fun that everyone involved radiated on the screen. Maybe it was the catchy and hilarious musical numbers (witness "Three Little Nuns All Nude"). Maybe it was the copious amounts of random nudity. Whatever the case, Z came across as bawdy, disturbing, and thoroughly enjoyable.
To be fair, no one in this movie is going to be nominated for an Academy Award. The special effects makeup mainly consists of greasepaint and dirty clothes, the zombies are comical and far too coordinated dancers, and the whole movie is hosted by a sock puppet with paper teeth and a giant penis-pillow. There are many cases of random nudity, and by "random" I mean a horde of naked men and women dancing around a fire used as a transition, and much of the movie seems to be the director's attempt at getting as many women naked as possible. The plot is simplistic and there are a few stretches where the dialogue brings the movie to a screeching halt.
However, the good far outweighs the bad in this indie-flick. To begin with, the film makers spent what appears to be a great deal of time and thought putting together fourteen original songs for the film. All the songs are catchy, some obnoxiously so, and most are truly funny (witness the nuns' first sexual encounter in which one sings "tomorrow I'll be very sore..."). Also, the dance choreography, provided by Amy Jordan, was well thought-out and executed, even with masses of extras who seemed to have had little or no dance training. Lead actresses Hanna Hardin, Hallie Martin and Tiffany Janssen take their roles, if not seriously, with gusto. Just by their on-screen energy, it was easy to see that they were having fun. It was also easy to see there was real talent involved.
So what if Z: A Zombie Musical isn't big-Hollywood-blockbuster material? Who cares if it isn't shot on celluloid? No, it isn't the greatest movie to come down the pike, but it is by far better than a sharp stick in the eye, and a thousand times better than half the straight-to-video dreck that appears on the shelves at Blockbuster. This at least shows a great deal of imagination and heart, and gives the viewer a few genuine giggles before it is done. For that alone, it deserves decent marks. But it also stands on its own as a funny, quirky, and cool indie-film. It certainly deserves a look or two.