‘Plaga Zombie: American Invasion’ Is Gory, Gonzo, and A Ton Of Fun [Review]

Zombies. The dead brought back to some degraded caricature of life through man-made or cosmic means. Their all-consuming drive varies from tale to tale, ranging from eating the flesh of the living, to eating the brains of the living, to drinking the blood of the living. Okay, listen, I know that all doesn’t sound too varied. But I promise not every zombie cares only about flesh-feasting. For instance, some just want to spread infection. Others rise up to serve a nice, cold dish of revenge. And then there was one that just wanted Barbara Crampton. There are numerous goals to occupy their rotting skulls, numerous films detailing the struggle of surviving against the living dead… also, aliens!

Extraterrestrial invaders summoning the deceased to assault Earth’s forces isn’t a fresh concept. Far from it, actually, with the most notable example being Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space — for better or worse. A more palatable instance may be Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce, or even the more subversive take shown in the Spierig Brothers’ Undead. Maybe palatable was the wrong word to use. Point is, while the idea isn’t new, it’s also not used too often, either.


One crew that took the brain and shambled with it were the creators (Pablo Parés, Hernán Sáez, Berta Muñiz) of the Argentinian splatterstick trilogy, Plaga Zombie. The series is apparently filled with blood, guts, and other bodily bits used to the zaniest effect. I say “apparently” because I, unfortunately, haven’t seen them. Hell, I didn’t even know they existed until a few months ago. I know, I sound horribly underprepared for this. But I plan on picking up Severin’s release of the trilogy once it drops!

By the way, it turns out it’s not just a trilogy anymore. Little bait-and-switch for y’all, right there. Filmmaker Garry Medeiros, with the blessing of the original creators, directed the latest installment of the franchise, moving the action from Argentina to the United States — Plaga Zombie: American Invasion!

This is essentially my introduction to the series. So I’m looking at this film on its own merits as opposed to being part of a grander narrative. Once I see the rest of the flicks, I’ll be sure to do a retrospective on the whole thing!

Check out the full synopsis:

“An Alien race attempts an invasion on earth by infecting the human population with a virus turning them into bloodthirsty zombies. The northeast-coastal city of New Bedford, Massachusetts USA is quickly overrun by alien-infested zombies. To contain the outbreak, the government detaches the city at its fault line and sets it adrift into the Atlantic Ocean. Four unlikely heroes must battle through the hordes of zombies, stop the alien invasion, and anchor the floating city before it smashes head on into the Azores Islands.”

Much like the films before it, American Invasion is a bit of an idiosyncratic take on the whole zombie story. There’s a lot going on, for sure. It’s very much an action-comedy, with horror/sci-fi flavors mixed in to spice up the pot. Within the first half-hour, you can tell precisely what its inspirations are, the most apparent being the Evil Dead franchise.

Speaking of the first half-hour, I’d say that’s where the movie is weakest. It’s mostly just building up the characters with proper motivations to pursue throughout the runtime. But none of said pursuits are particularly interesting. The cast’s not unlikable — by the end, I thought they were pretty fun. It’s just too much time is spent on subplots that could have been established quicker. I was zoning out a bit by that mark, I’m sad to say… but that was before the movie kicked into high gear!

It ramps up REALLY quickly, too, with everything falling into chaos as zombies created by alien parasites start tearing people apart. Actually, let’s talk about the zombies for a moment. These aren’t the run-of-the-mill rotting, reanimated stiffs that you’re used to seeing time and time again. Oh no — these ones come in different colors! Reds, blues, greens, yellows; these gaudy ghouls have variety. I believe this is carried over from the original trilogy. It’s an excellent way to make scenes pop and keep the film visually interesting. On another note, these zombies ooze personality, a mix of Return of the Living Dead and Evil Dead vibes. They’re hopelessly sadistic, gleefully giggling while eviscerating helpless victims in viciously cruel ways. To me, it’s a refreshing take on a tried-and-true monster that benefits the film.

Anyway, back to the ramped-up carnage: it’s fun! There’s a good amount of creativity with the action scenes, shown early on with a game of knife-vs-table that made me chuckle out loud. Trash can lids, guns, swords, bombs, wrestling moves — all are used to combat the dead in ludicrous fashion, almost reminiscent of Dead Alive. It’s a good time watching blood flow, heads roll, and people disintegrate. This is where the film is strongest, with increasingly ridiculous violence against cannibal cadavers.

Our main heroes, while not too engaging at the start, find their footing as the film goes on. It’s a varied bunch consisting of a military martial artist with a katana, a washed-up wrestler looking to prove himself, and the wrestler’s landlord/best friend/number one fan who is a surprisingly adept fighter. The story follows this motley crew for most of the runtime, though there is one more character that’s introduced about halfway in.

An eye-patch-wearing, black-clad, tough-as-nails anti-hero who’s named after a serpent and doesn’t follow anyone’s rules but his own — sounds familiar, right?… wait, wrong one! There we go. Which would be fine, I’m always down to see a well-armed badass turn zombies into the flesh-and-bone equivalent to ABC gum.

However, once he’s introduced, the film shifts to him being more or less the main character. It’s odd, given that so much time was spent setting up the original trio, only for not-Snake-really to (violently) take their spotlight. Don’t get me wrong, there are still scenes focused on them. But it’s clear they’re not really THE focus anymore. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even if he doesn’t have much development beyond “he-kills-things-good”, I like other-Big-Boss. I didn’t watch a flick called Plaga Zombie for deep character study. I watched it to see dead people get blown to bloody bits, and Not-Delgado does just that super well. It’s just an interesting narrative choice. The fact he’s played by one of the film’s writers (Walter Rivero) probably has something to do with it. But hey, he gets the job done, so no complaints!

Overall, the film is a ton of fun when the heads get rolling, and it’s definitely piqued my interest in the first three flicks. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in blood-drenched, zombie-based inventiveness. And in the end, isn’t that what’s most important?

You can pick up the film here. Also, Severin’s dropping their release of the original trilogy on October 25th, which you can pick up here.

Until next time.

Ciao, friends!

Giallo Julian’s TwitterFacebook



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