Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bad Movie Endurance Test Part 1: Zombie Genocide: Legion of the Damned

If you live in a small town, sooner or later you have to go to Wal-Mart. It's not a pleasant experience, but sometimes you have no choice. This happened to me recently and it was every bit as awful as you'd expect, (right down to a great big pile of poop--possibly not human--in the middle of the bathroom floor) but I did find something that will turn out to be either kind of neat or even a more harrowing experience than going to Wal-Mart: several collections of what promise to be terrible movies for $5 each.

I  picked up three of these collections. The first was Freakshow Cinema, which features 12 recently made (and based on the first one, I'm guessing mostly amateur-made) horror movies, which I bought entirely because one of the movies is called Order of One: Kung Fu Killing Spree. How could I pass that up? I love me a good Kung Fu killing spree. I also got Sci-Fi Fever, which features 20 sci-fi flicks from a 1948 movie called Counterblast to what looks to be a 3-part mini-series from  2001 called The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells. Of course it was the 1983 Fred Williamson cheese classic Warriors of the Wasteland that really made me buy this one. Finally, I got The Best of the Worst, a collection of epic bad movies including Manos: The Hands of Fate and The Beast of Yucca Flats.

I've always claimed to like bad movies, and now I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. I'm going to watch all 44 or these awful movies. I'm not going to set a time limit on this since some may require a certain amount of recovery time and repeated viewings of Terry Gilliam movies to afterwards restore my faith in the art of cinema. However, once I start watching one of them, I will not stop until it's over, no matter how much I want to. Then I'll post reviews of them here, because presumably some of you also like bad movies but don't want to watch this much crap to find the good bad ones. Consider it a public service.

The first movie on the list is from Freakshow Cinema and is called Zombie Genocide: Legion of the Damned. Watching the opening credits, I was reminded of The Howling: New Moon Rising. Much like Clive Turner before him, Gary Ugarek wore many hats while making this movie: he directed it, stars in it, wrote the original (I'm guessing extremely unpublished) short story it was based on, etc., etc. Unfortunately, Gary is no Clive Turner, and that's really saying something.

Right from the opening credits, you know this is not going to be an easy movie to watch. The soundtrack music sounds almost like an instrumental version of a Cinderella song, and it takes skill to make something made in the 21st Century that starts with knock-off 80s glam rock watchable. This music (or something very similar to it--it's so perfectly bland I couldn't really tell) will appear in the movie a few more times, and when it shows up is actually a welcome change from the steady-drumbeat-dirge-like-seriously-can't-you-hear-how-atmospheric-and-spooky-this-movie-is-even-though-you're-bored-out-of-your-mind? music that dominates the soundtrack.

Anyway, once the Cinderella tribute band finishes, we're introduced to what I will generously call our protagonists, Pony-Tail Man and Bald Guy, one of whom I assume is Gary. Pony-Tail Man has a wife and kid. His pal Bald Guy is recently divorced and likes to party all night (we know this because they mention it about a dozen time in a stilted five-minute conversation). They're going somewhere, and after Pony-Tail Man's wife warns Bald Guy not to let her man get into trouble, they take off in Bald Guy's Sweet Ride (TM). Are they going on an exciting adventure? Of course not, they're going somewhere to shoot some bottles. On the way to their bottle shooting, they talk about...something. You can't really hear them because the music in the car--presumably Gary's band--is a little too loud (it's neither Cinderella nor overdone attempt at atmospheric music, at least). The only thing I made out was some hilarious joke about Keith Richards not being human or something. This was just one example of the fresh, totally original humor Gary wrote into the script. Later on we'll get a "men don't stop to ask for directions" gem and I can only assume there was a "bad airline food" gag somewhere in there that I couldn't hear over the terrible soundtrack.

Meanwhile, back at Pony-Tail Man's place, Mrs. Pony-Tail Man and Pony-Tail Man, Jr. are out in the yard when suddenly there's a noise (I won't go so far as to say a loud noise, but definitely a sound effect). After some voice-overs that make Harrison Ford in Bladerunner sound like a game show host and filler-sound-packed radio announcements (I forgot to mention that the opening scene established that the TV didn't work, presumably because they didn't have the budget to put together a newsroom set), we discover that there was some kind of unspecified terrorist attack. Also, there's  a big traffic jam. At some point, some people stop by and tell Mrs. Pony-Tail Man to lock all the doors and windows and stay in the house, so of course she immediately grabs the kid and leaves. They also make a point to get the dog, but when Pony-Tail Man returns later the dog is still  there, so I can only assume that they have a teleporting dog. You'd think that would be a bigger part of the plot, but Gary never does anything with it. They run over a zombie (which unless you count a couple of shootings is the closest anyone in the movie actually comes to fighting a zombie). Behind them, you see some footage from a zombie walk and a couple of scenes of half-assed zombies--or possibly juggalos--eating chicken livers or something that have been piled onto the bodies of people lying on the ground. Maybe it's the Maryland yokel version of those Japanese restaurants where businessmen eat sushi off a naked woman's body.

While all this is going on, we see scenes from a shelter. There are some scenes of people arriving at the shelter, then a redneck shows up with non-specific but dire warnings that there's no way the people in the shelter will survive. Then the zombies attack (or at least montage threateningly) and manage to kill everyone except the redneck, who bravely hides in the one zombie-proof room in the shelter. After it's all over, he comes out, sees the carnage, and is never seen again. Somewhere during this, Mrs. Pony-Tail Guy (who apparently was able to avoid the traffic jam which is we're told is keeping anyone from going anywhere) arrives at her destination, the home of some guy. He's got a motorcycle AND a John Deere Mower, which I assume is important given the way they were set out showroom-display-style for the camera to lovingly pan over. He's also got  a shotgun. Obviously a guy who can handle some zombie scum (luckily he never has to).

Eventually, about an hour into the movie, we return to Pony-Tail Man and Bald Guy, who are trying to figure out how to get home through the traffic jam. After naming some random road names, they apparently succeed and arrive back at the house where they find a note from Mrs. Pony-Tail Man telling them where she's gone. Apparently it's the home of a survivalist nut who I think is Pony-Tail Man's brother. After promising the dog that they'll come back for him (which seems pointless since we already know the dog can teleport), they easily make their way to the completely-nowhere-near-the-traffic-jam-that's-stopped-all-traffic-in-twelve-states home of Motorcycle Lawnmower Guy.

Six months later, they're still at Motorcycle Lawnmower Guy's house, but it's getting harder to find supplies and Bald Guy is wondering whether they should move on. This planning for the future is no doubt a sign of character growth, since we were told repeatedly in the first five minutes of the movie how he used to party all night and not think about the future. Luckily, the group doesn't really decide what they're going to do and the movie ends. Presumably somewhere out there is a redneck and a teleporting dog, but we never find out what happens to them. I bet they met up and had wacky adventures.

Takeaway: This movie is kind of like The Walking Dead if it were written by gin-drunk Korean child slaves, starred The People of Wal-Mart, and was 80% montages. It might be possible to enjoy this with enough people and booze, but it would have to be very funny people and very strong booze.

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