Studio: Entertainment One
Director: Marco Ristori, Luca Boni
Writer: Marco Ristori, Luca Boni
Producer: Uwe Boll, Benjamin Krotin
Stars: Christian Boeving, Mike Mitchell, Ivy Marshall Corbin, Jon Campling, Tara Cardinal, Carl Wharton, Gerry Shanahan, Daniel Vivian
A team of mercenaries is sent on a government mission to destroy the source of a zombie outbreak at a Romanian power plant.
Depending on the market, “Zombie Massacre” also goes by the alternate title “Apocalypse Z.” Before The Asylum could pinch out its own mockbuster under that misleading name, “Apocalypse Z” won the race in trying to confuse anyone who may actually have been looking for “World War Z.” Having to resort to trickery for an audience to accidentally buy, rent, or watch a movie already speaks volumes about its quality.
If you know the name Uwe Boll, then you know that his name is synonymous with universally panned and widely despised films. His directorial efforts often fall under the category of horror, in both genre and in execution. Attack him or defend him, Uwe Boll’s name alone is a lightning rod for controversy no matter what. Filmmakers and film distributors know this fact well. That a movie would so willfully tout its association with Boll by featuring his producer credit above the title shows that “Zombie Massacre” is desperate for the wrong kind of attention. Even though Boll is not in the director’s chair this time, he finds a way to make his presence just as dubious by appearing onscreen as an actor.
Despite being a German national, Boll plays the President of the United States. If you think Donald Trump was relentless about Barack Obama producing his birth certificate, imagine what Trump would do if a candidate appeared in a primary with Boll’s thick accent. The casting is not as out of place as one might think however, since no one else in the film playing a United States politician or military leader is American either.
Because square-jawed, stone chiseled soldiers of fortune in the movies never have names like Pete Wynorski, “Zombie Massacre” introduces conveniently named hero Jack Stone. Jack is a tough-as-nails mercenary who fell from grace in the U.S. military despite having once been decorated with the presumably honorable “Medal of the Congress.” I have no idea what that medal is and neither does Google. Jack’s assignment is to lead a ragtag gang of mercenary misfits into Romania and destroy a nuclear power plant that was the source of a deadly zombie outbreak.
“Zombie Massacre” is an example of having the tools to make one kind of film, but trying to create something entirely different altogether. The cast is loaded with Italians, Germans, Romanians, and other assorted European nationalities. Expecting an audience to take these performances seriously when they are predominantly cast as Americans is ludicrous to begin with. But watching a supposedly seasoned sniper wrestle with a rifle’s bolt action or a combat specialist wield a sword as if holding one for the first time is even more laughable.
The digital explosions would not pass muster if they were in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, yet the script is loaded with things blowing up. The scene with Uwe Boll as the President is actually mildly amusing. It could even have been clever satire with the way he references his farm in Texas and sex with hookers. Except the rest of the film is played completely straight, which makes scenes such as these conspicuously misplaced. When the credits roll with an epilogue featuring topless female zombies spoiling a pool party, you have to wonder, exactly what type of movie do they want this to be? I thought things were already all over the place when the “Resident Evil” Nemesis burst onto the set like Kool-Aid Man.
I would be shocked if any scene in this movie was shot more than once, because it is impossible to imagine that they had two takes to choose from and an even worse version exists somewhere. “Zombie Massacre” may just be 30 years behind its time. If the release date had been 1983 instead of 2013, it would likely have become a cult classic midnight movie by now thanks to its bizarre flirtation with unintentional camp. Too bad it exists in a day and age when its filmmakers should know better.
Had “Zombie Massacre” just accepted its true nature and played itself out as a new wave Troma film, it could have been a decent, low budget romp. For some reason, “Zombie Massacre” fooled itself into believing it could compete outside the Bush Leagues by taking itself seriously.
Lamenting the oversaturation of the zombie genre is as passé as the saturation itself. From readily available classics that include Romero’s “of the Dead” series to a plethora of contemporary entries such as several seasons worth of “The Walking Dead,” horror fans have innumerable choices when it comes to undead entertainment. That so much of it already exists is not reason alone why there should not be any more. But if you want your zombie-themed movie to be heard amongst all of the noise, there has to be a reason why it deserves any attention at all.
Consider the question, “why should I watch?” If you can visualize the filmmakers’ only response being upturned palms and shrugged shoulders, then it is time to move along. Life is too short, even for a mediocre zombie movie. Though being mediocre would be an improvement for “Zombie Massacre.”
Review Score: 15