Reviwed by The Foywonder
Starring Melissa K. Gilbert, Jason Von Stein, Nathan Standridge, Daryl Wilcher, Tracy Yarkoni
Written & Directed by Sam Drog
"The world's first satanic killer zombie chicken movie..."
Yes, such a motion picture exists. No, Troma did not produce it. I'm as shocked as you are over that one. I suspect Zombeak! would make a perfect companion piece for Troma's Poultrygeist. Heck, release them together as some sort of chicken-fried Grindhouse double feature.
Now I don't know what writer-director Sam Drog was smoking when he came up with the idea for a movie about a Satan-possessed chicken but I imagine it must have been potent. Having heard about this film over two years ago, I was kind of surprised when Drog contacted me out of the blue offering me a screener. Surprised and apprehensive, while the very concept of the film and its goofy gimmicky title was worthy of snickering, reality often dictates that movies of this nature tend to be far more entertaining in theory. I was expecting a film that looked to be about one step above that of home movie quality and no better than your typical homemade parody found on YouTube.
To my further surprise, the movie I got, while clearly made on an extremely low budget, was a competently made piece of work that looked more professional than a lot of the no-budget crappola companies like Lionsgate litter DVD shelves on a regular basis with. The movie itself was the sort that I could easily envision a DVD company like York Entertainment or Brain Damage distributing and in this case I don't mean that in an entirely negative way. Zombeak! is cheap, cheesy, vulgar, and idiotic - and those are its good points.
Drog wastes absolutely no time getting right into the thick of his rednecks vs. satanists vs. possessed poultry flick. Gutter-mouthed waitress Melissa is out behind the Cooters restaurant lip-locking with her grease monkey boyfriend, Bobby Ray, and getting scolded by her dimwitted boss, Max (the lovechild that Curly and Shemp never had), for taking too long on break. A car suddenly pulls up and out steps a satanist called Leviathan who looked like he could be Tony Todd's kid brother made up like a post-apocalyptic circus ringmaster. Leviathan informs Melissa that she has been personally selected by his coven to be offered up as a concubine for Lucifer himself to impregnate with the antichrist that very night. She responds by more or less telling him to fuck off.
More satanists then emerge from the vehicle, almost like a clown car full of Goth stereotypes. There's Vascara, a satanic high priestess of sorts who looked and sounded tailor made for hosting late night horror movies. Then there's Gideon, a gimpy Goth guy who looked like a mime on his way to a rave. And then there was the real gimp of the group, Samuel, an unpleasant husky brute in a pink shirt with a pentagram drawn on it who occasionally pops on a devil mask and keeps referring to Melissa as "mommy". Except for Vascara (the standout amongst the cast), a sorrier bunch of devil worshippers there haven't been. I think that occultist kid from The Gate 2 might have been even wimpier and he was actually supposed to be the good guy in that film.
They abduct Melissa and take her kicking and screaming back to their secluded hideout to perform the ritual to call forth their dark lord and master. Every step of the way, even when tied down to the floor and having the blood of a sacrificial chicken poured on her, sass-mouthed Melissa will continue talking smack to the flustered and more than a little bumbling occultists.
Melissa, like pretty much every one of the redneck characters in the film, talk as if they're proud graduates of Eric Cartman's charm school. The satanists, on the other hand, seem like parodies straight out of an episode of "Metalocalypse". Everyone plays their parts very broad, sometimes a little too close to bad parody, but still with enough enthusiasm to make them entertaining even if you won't come away quoting any of the script’s more crudely amusing than laugh out loud zingers.
Bobby Ray immediately calls in his older brother, a State Patrolman with such violent tendencies and anger management issues that his character could easily have been the subject of an entirely different horror movie. This character seemed to have been cooked up by combining Tackleberry from the Police Academy films with R. Lee Ermey from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and then tossing in just a dash of Michael Rooker's Mississippi Burning character for extra added seasoning. Only in a movie like this could this character ever be considered one of the good guys.
Cooters manager Max also wants to help only because he has a deep burning hatred for satanists and would love the opportunity to whoop up on some. This movie is set in Georgia and rednecks talk about satanists with roughly the same amount of contempt people of color used get talked about in the Deep South. Never saw any "Satanists Only" water fountains though.
After using what the Bush administration would term an "enhanced interrogation technique" on a local tattoo artist to get their address, the redneck idiots three crash the satanic ceremony right at the very moment that Satan manifests himself, not the least bit happy that his chance at nookie has been interrupted. Guns get drawn, fists fly, insults are hurled, and an angry Satan ends up inhabiting the body of the sacrificial chicken. The blood-soaked bird suddenly springs to life and proceeds to peck its way to unholy vengeance while the rednecks prepare to fight back and the sniveling satanists either turn coward or turn on one another. Oh, and then a pentagram appears on the moon and the dead start rising as satan-possessed zombies. It's pretty much anything goes by this point.
About the point people start getting their eyes pecked out and their souls sucked out (almost Mortal Kombat-style) by a bloody chicken puppet is about the time Zombeak! goes from just being a mildly amusing piece of trash cinema to one of those "WTF!?! am I watching?" sort of films. Though there are some low rent CGI effects, the satanic chicken is simply a puppet. Nothing fancy, just a bloody chicken puppet: a bloody chicken puppet that violently pecks people to a bloody pulp, a bloody chicken puppet that suggestively pecks away at a busty blonde's cleavage, a bloody chicken puppet that Vascara wants to get it on with. Watching this bloody chicken puppet in action is like watching a horror movie version of "TV Funhouse".
One way you can tell this wasn't a Troma production is that we never actually get to see Vascara getting humped by the chicken puppet; that's the sort of icky visual that Troma would have given us. I'm still not sure if I should be relieved or disappointed that I didn't get to see it. No, I'm sure I'm relieved.
The funniest scene to me didn't even involve the chicken. Tied-up and faced with being tortured by the rednecks, Leviathan opts instead to declare he's seen the light and has accepted Jesus while his satanic brethren look on in utter disgust at their leader's cowardice as he begins testifying.
Perhaps it's because I went into this film with the absolute lowest of expectations that I came away reasonably amused. Perhaps it's because I'm the same lunatic who wrote a four-star review of The Gingerdead Man proving that I'm in dire need of having my head examined (or pummeled a few times with a 2x4), or perhaps, maybe, just maybe, Zombeak! is genuinely entertaining in a cheap, cheesy, vulgar, idiotic sort of way. And at only 70-minutes it didn't overstay its welcome. Your brain might fly the coop while watching it but your funny bone will be tickled.
3 out of 5
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