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As its title suggests, “Zombeak” is a film about a murderous undead chicken. Just to tick another box, said bird also happens to be possessed by the prince of darkness himself, and is in search of a bride. Quite probably, this is all that anyone needs to know when making a decision whether or not to take the plunge, with trifling issues of quality or cinematic common sense clearly not being of great importance. Of course, with deceptively fun looking, though painfully mundane low budget outings continuing to plague the fringes of the horror market, a good or outlandish premise itself is by no means a guarantee of trashy entertainment, as many unfortunate viewers can attest. Thankfully, if somewhat improbably, “Zombeak”, which has now been unleashed on region 2 DVD via MVM, goes some way to bucking this trend, if not by actually being any good, then at least by being far better than it has any right to be.
The plot, such as it is, serves only to provide some vague justification for the goofy goings on, following a camp gang of Satanists who capture a waitress for the evil purpose of offering her up to the devil to sire the antichrist. Unfortunately for the incompetent buffoons, her redneck fiancé and his fascist traffic cop brother, along with the manager of the hilariously named ‘Cooters’ restaurant where she works, put together a rescue party and head out for the cultist’s apparently not too secret hideout. Despite managing to free the damsel in distress, their intervention only interrupts the ritual, and though the evil one’s amorous intentions are briefly thwarted, his powers are transferred to a recently sacrificed chicken.
“Zombeak” does not get off to a promising start, and indeed the first half hour or so makes for fairy interminable viewing, enough so to have many reaching for the stop button. During these early stages, the film pretty much epitomises the very worst of the low budget end of the horror spectrum, looking horribly cheap, being directed in a dull and flat manner, featuring some truly awful acting and revolving mainly around weak redneck trash talk and humour. Whilst for a film that runs only an hour and ten minutes, it may seem like an outright condemnation to declare nearly half of it unwatchable, once the killer chicken enters the picture things improve considerably.
Somehow, after this momentous event, many of the film’s failings become a lot more fun, and even quite charming in their own way. Although the special effects are terrible, the sight of the mangy looking chicken being thrown from off screen onto characters is absolutely hilarious, and helps the film to attain an almost Ed Wood style of surrealism. Even better, the film seems to walk a bold and bizarre line between comedy horror and taking itself seriously.
The characters themselves quickly become walking jokes, with the redneck avengers cursing and swearing their way through the film and having a good time hacking their way through the Satanists. Although much of their dialogue is like nails on a blackboard, oddly enough they do sort of grow on the viewer, and do represent somewhat of a departure from the usual genre stereotypes of bozos and bimbos. The film also scores points for its liberal applications of gore, and whilst this never has much impact due to some particularly poor and glaring use of computer effects, there are some creative and moments of enthusiastic splatter.
As a result, the latter stages of “Zombeak”, all forty or so minutes of them, are very enjoyable, and it’s a shame that the film couldn’t have kicked into gear a little earlier. Still, even half a film about possessed poultry is better than none, and fans of the strange and stupid should certainly have a reasonably good time trying to believe their eyes.
Sam Drog (director) / Sam Drog (screenplay)
CAST: Barry Bishop … Samual
Sarah Frances Conkle … The Antichrist (voice)
Melissa K. Gilbert … Melissa
Adam Morris … Gideon
Tarjatta Rose … Lorraine
JimmyLee Smith … Max
Nathan Standridge … Fasmagger
Jason Von Stein … Bobby Ray