Directed by Marco Ristori and Luca Boni
Starring Christian Boeving, Mike Mitchell, and Ivy Corbin
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Notorious German filmmaker and professional Internet punching bag Uwe Boll is a very busy man. He can’t take every mediocre video game on the market and turn it into a lazy, joyless exercise in next generation schlock all by himself. So in the case of Zombie Massacre – also known by its World War Z cash-in alternate title Apocalypse Z – he gracefully ceded the directing honors he usually reserves for his little old self to not one, but two individuals this time: Marco Ristori and Luca Boni. Looking at those names as I type them suddenly gave me a craving for chicken cacciatore. Meanwhile, Dr. Boll is in the midst of pre-production on his next five movies – three of which began filming early this month – and hard at work on stoking the fires of fan boy enmity. Zombie Massacre could have really used his directorial gifts.
Based on a first-person shooter video game widely known as a Doom rip-off, Zombie Massacre opens with the citizens of a small town in Romania called Rojznov becoming infected with a mysterious virus released from a U.S. government bacteriological lab and turning into flesh-crazed zombies. General Carter (Carl Wharton) concocts a plan to cover up the outbreak by sending in a team of mercenaries into the town to detonate a nuclear weapon in their power plant so the public will believe the government’s story that a meltdown was responsible for the destruction of Rojznov. He selects Lt. Jack Stone (Christian Boeving), a career soldier imprisoned for treason and murder who is also a widower with a 7-year-old daughter, to lead the team. Also joining their ranks is Irish firearms and explosives expert John “Mad Dog” McKellen (Mike Mitchell), Serbian sniper Dragan Ilic (Daniel Vivian), and finally Eden Shizuka (Tara Cardinal), a mostly silent Irishwoman who was trained in hand-to-hand combat and sword fighting by a Japanese monk.
Each team member is promised a payment of $2 million should they succeed in their mission and live to tell the tale. Once inside the contaminated zone the mercs are on their own. The task becomes extra-complicated when Carter makes it clear that he has no intention of letting the team return safely. With the timer set and less than a hour before the nuke fries the entire city Stone and his team must face down an onslaught of the lurching dead and encounter Samantha (Ivy Corbin), the daughter of a scientist who worked with the government creating the zombie virus. Things don’t get much more difficult than that.
What the hell kind of movie would openly admit to being presented by Uwe Boll? Is that really something for young filmmakers to be proud of, or perhaps the credit was a contractual obligation? I’ve only seen but a handful of Boll’s movies and yet I don’t harbor the same flaming vitriol towards the man that many of my movie-reviewing colleagues seem to enjoy allowing to fester in their very bowels and gnaw away at their mortal souls. I just don’t think Boll is a good filmmaker. His movies are uniformly terrible and completely devoid of color, wit, and energy. They’re also excruciating to watch. Even though Boll didn’t direct Zombie Massacre it feels unmistakably like one of his credits, from its bargain basement sets and action to the SyFy-level CGI effects and cast comprised of no-names. Plus there’s also the fact that it was based on a video game of middling popularity whose feature film rights were probably relatively inexpensive to purchase.
This isn’t a bad zombie movie; I’ve seen plenty of those and the Italians always made them better than anyone else. Zombie Massacre is merely dull and irrelevant. You cannot take any guilty pleasure away from watching because it has no pleasure to offer anyone. Everything about it is ordinary. All I wanted to do during my one and only viewing was take a nice long nap. The characters, if you can honestly call them that, hold meaningless conversations without apparent end but there is no understanding of their personalities and motivations. In one scene, two characters go on and on about eating and going to the bathroom, and that’s it. Tons of zombies get blown away but their deaths are executed with red puffs of smoke to indicate bullet hits. Gore is nowhere to be found here. The Walking Dead airs on cable television at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights and that show has way more violence and extremely juicy practical effects work than Zombie Massacre. If it wasn’t for the constant swearing and a poolside scene with a pair of topless babes at the end, this movie would be ideal fodder for the Oxygen network.
No one in the cast stands out. Some of the actors I’m sure were imported from other countries and forced to adapt different accents which they struggle to deal with. They have to resort to overacting to retain their dignity. Directors Ristori and Boni (sounds like a new detective drama on TNT) do what they can with the material and at least they know how to make a movie look like it was filmed with marginal competence. For the finale we get a super zombie in a silly but marvelously-crafted latex suit. The scene is as moronic as the rest of the movie, but the fact they someone involved with the making of Zombie Massacre was briefly permitted to show a little craft and imagination is like a bountiful oasis in a hopeless apocalyptic desert of despair and greed. It gives one hope, that is until the monster perishes in a lame manner and some of the characters manage to make it to safety. Henry Jaglom could not have made a more depressing movie.
Filmed with high-definition digital cameras and presented in 1080p in a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Entertainment One sure made Zombie Massacre look every bit like a shiny piece of crap. The drab, monotonous cinematography is very clean and free of defects. English subtitles have also been provided.
There are no clear differences between the dual English 5.1 tracks – one a DTS-HD Master Audio, the other Dolby Digital – but the droning metal soundtrack, insipid dialogue, and tin-eared sound effects can all be heard with almost crystal clear clarity.
Previews for 13 Eerie and Eaters – the latter from the same team that produced Zombie Massacre – play upfront when you first load the disc. The extra features include a 41-minute documentary about the making of the movie, two storyboard-to-film comparisons, and teaser and theatrical trailers.
Zombie Massacre is worthless garbage. It isn’t even entertaining on a “so bad it’s good” level. Subpar video game filmmaking at its worst, and that’s really awful. Don’t just pass this one up. If a friend or loved one offers to loan it to you because they think it’s good, then by all means cut them out of your life forever.