Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Toxic Zombies

This film is a rarity among the videos I ordered from Midnight Video, as it’s the only one in the bunch that I could have also gotten a copy of from Amazon (hence the link at the end of the review). Also, much like yesterday’s Blood on Satan’s Claw, it manages to be consistently entertaining throughout its running time without ever managing to really differentiate itself from the pack at any point.

The story, at least initially, involves a clash between a group of hippies secretly growing marijuana on federal land, and two bloodthirsty federal agents trying to get them. After an initial failure to capture the hippies, they hit upon what seems like a perfect solution: crop dust the whole area with an experimental new poison to wipe out all of the marijuana, and if it turns out to be toxic to human life, hey, nobody’s supposed to on the land right then anyway, right? Naturally, there are Unforeseen Consequences, as the hippies doused with the poison are transformed into zombies, who then go on a rampage against everyone in the woods. As it should, this provides us with some nice moments, as when the zombies stumble upon a family camping out in the woods, and the dad immediately hightails it and leaves his family for dead. There’s also what has to be the single dumbest truck driver ever, who picks up the mom, crying hysterically, her clothes torn, starts driving her back to town, sees another person crouching down by the road, sees the mom start screaming at the sight of him and yell that he’s the one that came at her, and then parks and leaves the truck to see if the newcomer needs a ride too. Frankly, at that point you have to start wondering how he managed to live long enough to make an appearance in the film to begin with.

We do eventually get an actual hero, in the form of an EPA officer who occasionally patrols the region, and who stumbles across the grand cropdusting plot and the zombie hippies, and it becomes a showdown between him and the two agents who inadvertently created the zombies. This is made tough for the officer, as the feds are apparently trained specifically to shoot through people’s necks, doing so multiple times throughout the film, just to show off their marksmanship, I guess.

The directing is pretty generic, which can admittedly be a blessing, after the distracting visual styles of more recent films like See No Evil and Automaton Transfusion, so while it never excels it at least isn’t actively irritating. The pacing works well, keeping the various killings coming at a fairly steady clip so you never get bored. It needed a little bit extra to make it truly memorable, but as it is it’s entertaining enough for at least one viewing.

Rating: ** ½

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