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Movie Review

Zombie Brigade

Directed by Carmelo Musca and Barrie Pattison (1986)
Reviewed by MaT, added on Dec 3 2007

Quick, name any Australian horror film of note. I'll give you a few seconds.

Did you come up with anything? If you said "anything by Peter Jackson", you'd be wrong because he is, of course, a Kiwi not an Aussie. Generally speaking, Australia has been a horror wasteland. They've got a few handfuls of horror films, and tried to make some headway in the 90's with stuff like Body Melt, but overall they've been nonexistent in the grand scheme of things. This is mostly due to the dominance of British and American horror films, which were imported to Australia in the 60's and 70's in enormous amounts and constituted a vice grip on the market and stifled creativity. Enter the Australian government, who allowed a bunch of government subsidies in order to help jump start homegrown film development. It had some great results, giving us Peter Weir, who made a couple horror films early in his career (The Cars that Ate Paris, The Mad Plumber). On the other hand, it gave us Carmelo Musca and Barrie Pattison who made one of the crappiest films of all time: Zombie Brigade.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had to start and stop this movie about five times because I kept falling asleep. This is happening with strange regularity lately and I hope I don't have cancer. I guess one thing that eases my mind is that this only happens during the worst films I've ever seen, so maybe my body is just trying to protect me somehow by shutting down? In any event, I had Zombie Brigade much longer than I ever should have (I'm watching this for Steve's big Zombie episode for Splattercast #55) but I made it through to the end. I still have no idea what the hell is going on at the end of this movie, but I'll get to that in a second...

Zombie Brigade must be given props for the sheer lunacy of its setup. The story goes something like this: A small town Mayor is convinced that the best way to revitalize his dwindling town is to allow a Japanese investor to build a theme park for Robot Man, a famous Japanese super hero. Why Japan would want to build a theme park in a small town in Australia is never addressed, but I digress. This sounds like a great plan but in order to do it, the Mayor gives the O.K. to destroy a monument in a cometary dedicated to fallen Australian Vietnam veterans. Apparently, nobody visits the dead soldiers anymore, so they decide to move the bodies in order for the theme park to be built. As in any bad horror movie, the soldiers rise from their graves as....vampires? Zombie vampires to be precise. The zombie vampire soldiers go on a killing spree and to combat their new problem, the townspeople get a local medicine man to bring all the other dead soldiers from past wars to life so that they can protect the town. Thus begins the greatest battle in Zombie movie history between Zombie Vampires and Old Fashioned Dead Zombies!!!!

If you're looking at that screenshot above in puzzlement, it's because the filmmakers were too inept to actually show the battle. The zombies come together, grab each other, and then this title card pops up. You never even get to see the "good zombies" win anything. They just cut straight to the aftermath. WTF?! I fell asleep five times for this lame ass ending? It doesn't help that the transfer looks like it came from the worst VHS tape still working. The image is blurry and worst of all, the audio is atrocious. It was really hard to make out the nuances of the story through the thick Australian accents on top of the near inaudible sound at times. There's something about these Vietnam vets getting a virus that caused them to want to drink human blood. Or I might be wrong about that, it was hard to tell.

There's also a really big theme of racism. Our hero, a native aborigine is constantly having racial tensions with the white mayor and townspeople. That was a nice touch, I think. At least the filmmakers were trying to hit on a topic prevalent in their own culture. But the problems are just too many to overlook. This movie is so damn boring. It's extremely slow paced, the characters are bland, and the direction is extremely amateur at best. At one point, when the zombie attack is over, instead of continuing the horror, we have a half-hour's worth of daylight scenes (zombie vampires can't be in the light, after all) that just drag the pace to a screeching halt. It was already boring and now you're going to slow it down even more? Then when you finally get to the big finale they cop out with a title card explaining what happened? Weak!

I can't recommend this to anybody. I would rather watch the hairs on my ass grow in real time than ever try and sit through Zombie Brigade again. It's tedious to a degree rarely seen since Curse of the Cannibal Confederates. Wait a minute. Maybe there is something to the idea of low-budget movies involving dead soldiers ALWAYS sucking. If nothing else, Zombie Brigade is evidence as to why the government should never be allowed to subsidize the film industry :)

-408 / 10

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