Writers might be heard to say "There are no new ideas, just different ways of presenting them." When you watch enough movies in a genre, you can see what the writers are saying. The basic plots in a genre are very similar: for the zombie genre, life is normal, zombies appear, and a fight for survival ensues. But even for such late-comers as Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later, this doesn't matter if the filmmakers understand that the attraction to a story is in the presentation and in the fleshing out of a world and characters that you can get immersed in. The filmmakers of The Zombie Chronicles didn't get that. What they offer instead is bland and predictable, and even the plot twists are plot twists you've seen before. It's not that the movie doesn't have some creativity. There are things that make it different from other movies, but it's just that those things seem to be superficial, like your friends getting new glasses or cutting their hair.
The movie is actually two stories wrapped up inside a third. A journalist (Emmy Smith) is traveling to a small town to research ghost stories. On the way she runs into a strange old man (Joe Haggerty) who offers to tell her the stories himself. Haggerty's character is mildly entertaining, but unfortunately he isn't in the movie that much.
The first story is about a couple whose car breaks down on a country road near the boot camp where the husband used to be a drill sergeant. The husband, of course, is a jerk. He runs off to find a phone, and his wife, after fighting off two strangers that happen by, follows him. In the woods the wife is captured by someone with an old grudge against the husband, and the husband is then made to do calisthenics. Yes, that part is as boring as it sounds.
In the second story, three young folks are going camping, a horny couple, Buzz (a jerk) and Marsha (John Kyle Grady and Beverly Lynne), and their uptight friend Jason (Mike Coen). Despite Jason's warnings, Buzz pees on a gravestone in a haunted graveyard, awakening a vengeful zombie. The writer attempts to add some color by creating a back story in the form of a local legend about the tenant of the grave, but removing it from the movie would have changed nothing else. You still have the same basic plot of horny drunk kids calling down the wrath of the undead upon themselves.
One thing I will say about this movie: the makeup and effects by Joe Castro were pretty good. It's a shame that they couldn't have been put to better use. As it is, probably very few people will ever see this movie, as should be the case.
Review by: anonymous Rating:
I rented the Brain Damage flick Zombie Chronicles, and I have to say that it was the worst movie I've ever seen in my entire 25 year existence. A while ago I thought that there could be nothing worse than Troma's Surf Nazis Must Die, but somebody actually managed to make something even worse than that, which seems impossible but it's true. Not interestingly, all of my roomates agreed that it was the worst movie they'd ever seen also. For a minute I wondered which one of Troma's or Brain Damage's movies could be worse, but Zombie Chronicles takes the cake. As my roomate says, "At least I could make it all the way through Surf Nazis." So, since this movie is worth negative brains for a rating, you could always just list it under a new category by which to judge horrible, bad, awful, waste-of-a-couple-hours-of-your-life movies: "WORSE THAN SURF NAZIS MUST DIE."
***Zombiemaster's note: Although Zombie Chronicles may deserve negative brains in some opinions, I have to draw the line at zero.