• MailChimp Widget



Kate Erbland

by: Kate Erbland
June 26th, 2009


"Ever since the release of George Romero’s no-budget Night of the Living Dead with its allusions to Vietnam and the civil rights struggle, zombie films have proven an effective vehicle for political and social satire. Few films, however, have been as unabashedly topical or slyly funny as ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction, a hilarious and gory send-up of post-9/11 paranoia and genre clichés.

A plague of zombies assaults a small island town in the Pacific Northwest, sending the conservative residents into a panic. When the media blames terrorists, a young Iranian-American woman becomes the scapegoat of dimwitted neighbors. Amid the carnage, the local pastor declares holy war, complicating matters for a visiting gay couple intent on coming out of the closet. Lest all this sound like a simple blue state political tract, be assured that there’s plenty of blood-red gore on offer. ZMD gives equal time to inventively staged disembowelments, decapitations, and outrageous eyeball trauma. And as the citizens band together to defeat a common enemy, this horror comedy reveals that most American of virtues: optimism." (official festival synopsis)

Zombie movies are (easily) my favorite genre of horror. Some horror junkies are vampire kids, some like their gorefests filled with masked men with shady reasons, but I need pasty, moaning undead to really get me going. Zombie movies run the gamut between deadly serious (the 28 DAYS LATER trilogy, Romero's ...OF THE LIVING DEAD series), and wickedly funny (DANCE OF THE DEAD, the upcoming ZOMBIELAND). ZMD: ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION falls into the latter category, with a generous gash of political reverb running through the entire thing.

Judging the film purely on the Awesome Zombie Scale (a sliding scale that is continually being revamped), ZMD gives us some pretty sweet traditional zombies: slow-moving, groaning, hungry. The media in the film blame the appearance of the zombies on biological warfare from terrorists in the Middle East (a nebulous geographical area to just about everyone in the film), but there is (hilariously) never any basis for these claims. Zombie status is achieved by getting bitten by a zombie, slowly falling into gray illness, and emerging hungry and pissed. When one character refuses to believe that his bitten wife is going to become a zombie, their son even asks, "haven't you ever seen a zombie movie?!" That's how you roll with your classic zombiedom - you acknowledge that's precisely what it is.

Though ZMD doesn't reinvent the zombie wheel, it is filled with some hilarious and truly inventive zombie moments. These zombies don't just want your brains, they want your entrails and your face, hell, they'll have settle for snack from their own body in the meantime. They are not necessarily scary zombies, but there are a lot of them, and they certainly are go-getters. As is the traditional route, we don't get to know the zombies, but we do get to know a motley crew of live ones who are dedicated to not getting bitten and turned. The best characters in ZMD are zesty fighters with bite (kidding!), people who have no issue picking up a gun or a weed-wacker and plowing their way through the chomping mobs. And, despite the dire situation we find our main characters in, ZMD is often very, very funny. It firmly nods to the fact that it is a zombie movie, and it revels in magnifying cliches for maximum hilarity.

But after awhile, ZMD ceases to be sly and proceeds to beat you over the head with its political slant, so much like a zombie with a severed limb. The break between the ease of a clever zombie flick and the grind of a preachy zombie film comes courtesy of a gratuitous torture scene. For a film that, at one point, features a man getting the skin of his face pulled off by a zombie, the word "gratutious" might seem unusable, but it's really the only one that's applicable. "A political zomedy" can absolutely work, but not when one half of that equation suddenly consumes the other.

Commenting Rules: Comments are intended to open up the discussion to our readers about the topics at hand, and as such should be offered with a positive and constructive attitude. If your comment is not relative to the above post or is disrespectful to the authors and readers, we reserve the right to delete it. Continued abuse of our good nature will result in banishment of the offender. Additionally, if you have any burning issues to point out to the GATW crew - typos, corrections, suggestions, or straight-up criticism - please email us instead of commenting here.

  • Recent Post