he most interesting thing about "Zombie
Planet" isn't that it's a shabby production utilizing low-rent actors
who aren't really actors, but that it's shot on digital video and the
filmmakers still didn't use on-location sync sound. I could understand the
presence of dubbed-in voices if the movie was shot on film, but we're
talking about digital video here. Little inexpensive tapes that can be shot
with a handheld camera? One would think that dubbing in voices in post would
be the last resort, since the effect is, to put it mildly, somewhat
distracting. Not to mention the fact that most of the time the sound doesn't
even match the character's lips. And when you add non-actors to the
equation, you have the makings of a MST3000 feature waiting to happen.
Granted, allowances must be made
to extremely low budget films, but even so one does expect some measure of
competence. If not in the directing, then in the writing or acting.
"Zombie Planet" has its own agenda, apparently, and gives us none
of the three. Even though I've come to expect almost nothing from my
no-budget zombie films, there is something to be said about trying to
make a semi-decent piece of forgettable entertainment. Populating your film
with people who can barely walk and talk at the same time without looking
like marionettes being pulled by strings is not the way to go.
Having said all that, at least "Zombie
Planet's" auteur, one George Bonilla, was decent enough to make an
epic post-apocalyptic movie on a hobo's budget. I suppose you have to give
the guy some credit for that, if not much else. Then again, you would have
to be incredibly generous, since "Zombie Planet" is as low-rent
as you'll get. Still, that whole attempt at epic is pretty impressive, if
ultimately an ill-advised decision.
Our latest zombie opus opens in "A Southern
City" somewhere in "The Near Future" (or so the
superimposed titles informs us) that has been overrun by zombies. The
survivors live in groups, hiding at night and coming out in daylight to
scavenge for anything they can trade in for food. Apparently these zombies
aren't like the ones we're used to. For one, they can talk, and some even
knows martial arts. I kid you not. As the film opens, our hero, laconic
wanderer Cain, finds himself surrounded by zombies in a dead alley. Before
you can say, "Idiot, didn't you know there were zombies around?"
Cain is engaging the zombies in a kung fu battle to the death. Or, er,
after death death. Or some such.
In any case, Cain is saved by a group of survivors
who call themselves the Dregs, led by Warren. Warren and company are under
the thumb of a local warlord name Adam, who spends his time with the
"Upper Class" in a loft somewhere setting up "Mad Max
Beyond Thunderdome"-type fights. When Cain shows up and displays his
impressive fighting prowess (these guys are really, really easy to
impress), he stirs up a whole lot of trouble. Adam wants the Mad Max clone
(in this case, the "Thunderdome" Max, not the "Road
Warrior" Max, if that streak of white in his hair is any indication)
to either join his ranks or die. Or maybe he just needs someone with
Goth-like fashion sensibilities and a pair of shin guards to talk to. Hey,
just because he's a warlord doesn't mean he doesn't need friends, you
It's all very silly, of course, and writer/director
George Bonilla's grandiose ideas and eye-rolling attempts at social
parallels are the stuff bad screenwriting is made off. The acting, as
expected, is atrocious across the board. Even when someone in the cast
manages to be somewhat decent, they just remind you how awful everyone
else is. And while it's no big surprise that the actors are terrible, I
think it's not too much to ask that Bonilla find some part-time actors at
the local community theater who can manage to stand in one place while
delivering their lines and not, you know, see-saw back and forth like they
have ants in their pants.
As with most low-budget zombie flicks, the focus
seems to be not on hiring people who can remotely act or even writing a
decent script that can be shot for the budget at hand, but rather on
making the gore as plentiful as possible. And yes, there is plenty of gore
to be had, if you're into that sort of thing. The zombies themselves are
pretty strange. Sometimes they run, sometimes they walk, and if Bonilla
ever explained why the zombies are afraid of sunlight and has to hide out
in houses during the day, I must have missed it. Although I have a
question: did these zombies learn kung fu after they died and become
zombies, or did they know kung fu before they became zombies?
Alas, complaining that "Zombie Planet" has
the technical craftsmanship of an elementary school play is akin to
beating a dead horse. In fact, Bonilla and company are so sure of their
movie's success that they even promise a sequel ("Zombie Planet:
Adam's Revenge"!) at the end of "Zombie Planet". You gotta
admit, these guys are really gung ho about their product. If nothing else,
you have to give them credit for being extremely enthusiastic, even if
that enthusiasm seems wholly unjustified.
A sequel, huh? Hmm, I wonder where Bonilla is going
to get that $500 he'll need to make the sequel?
I'm just being facetious, of course. The budget is
probably more like $650.