Attack of the Vegan Zombies! (2009) 1 brain1 brain

One thing I will say about this movie, the title certainly makes you interested. Why should we be scared of vegan zombies? You might think that you could just dump some tofu in front of them and watch them feed. Maybe even keep them as pets and train them to do menial chores for you. On my haiku page a friend of mine submitted a poem about them, crying out for "Graaaains," which sums that thought up pretty neatly. Writer/director Jim Townsend answers this question in a way that's a little contrived, but then I think he wanted to make a film that was light-hearted and silly, and he wasn't too concerned with thinking out the whole zombie process.

So, to answer the question, vineyard owners Dionne (Christine Egan) and Joe (Ames Arnold) have had several years of failed crops, and when Joe seems on the verge of giving up, Dionne persuades her mother (H. Lynn Smith), a witch, to help her cast a spell to makes the crops grow the following year. The key ingredient in the spell is human blood, so Dionne scratches her husband when he's sleeping off the bottle after drowning his sorrows, and uses that. The spell leads to a bumper crop the next year, but unfortunately, the alcohol in Joe's blood gave the vines a taste for alcohol, so when Dionne and Joe call in some people to help with the harvest, the vines start attacking anyone who has drunk some wine, and has alcohol in their blood. This makes them zombies, and the zombies have the same craving: instead of flesh, they crave wine, any way they can get it. Since that means attacking someone and drinking their blood rather than going to the winery shop and cracking open a bottle, well, I guess what they say about the rise in the need for instant gratification is true.

I liked the setup among the three key players, Dionne, Joe, and Dionne's mother. Dionne's mother hates the farm, and it seems she hates Joe, too, and she wants her daughter to follow in her witchly footsteps. Dionne was a witch prodigy when she was younger, but decided witchcraft wasn't for her, and turned to making wine instead. There's an interesting story just among the three of them, but unfortunately stories like this require some zombie fodder, and that's where the movie came down some points for me. To help with the crop, Joe brings in his friend Professor Frank (Wyatt Gunter), two of his students, Ray and Louis (John D. Kelly and Watt Smith), and two party girls, Lee and Jenny (Natalia Jablokov and Kerry Kearns). It's not really clear why Lee and Jenny are there, but the real reason they're there is that they're party girls, and movies like this need party girls. But what really got under my skin was Ray and Louis, who are such a pair of insufferable, stereotyped, 70s movie–type nerds that I could barely watch them without wincing. They were part of the whole light-hearted feel that Townsend was going for, but they were such two-dimensional social misfits for most of the movie that whenever they were on-screen, I just wanted them to die, already. I'm not saying nerds can't be silly and fun (just look at Revenge of the Nerds, which also had a Louis character), and Ray and Louis did have their funny moments, but they also have to be real people. Later in the movie they do show some depth when everything starts coming down, which made me wish they had been more like that from the start.

The movie showed signs of common low-budget woes: the makeup, the acting level, but it also had good moments. The movie has a vine-cam, in a nod to The Evil Dead's demon-cam, and the conversation where Dionne reveals to Joe that her mother is a witch is pretty funny. The whole idea of dangerous grapevines has a novel appeal. If you have a higher tolerance for annoying stereotypes than I do, you might be able to get past Ray and Louis, and enjoy the film more.