Biker Zombies (2001) 1 brainhalf brain

Alternate Titles:

Biker Zombies from Detroit

This movie is about biker zombies! From Detroit! Why Detroit? I think because the director (Todd Brunswick) associates Detroit with all that is bad about urban life. Whether or not that's true, I'll let you decide.

This movie is flawed in many ways, not a few of which reminded me of the infamous Zombie Doom, my first zero-brain movie. Biker Zombies is not quite that bad, but it shares the clumsy, amateurish filmmaking style and the bleak world view. To paraphrase the narrator in Zombie Doom, the world is full of bad people, and eventually some of them will kill you. The narrator in this movie is some sort of demonic spirit who has decided that the world is so bad, in Detroit in particular, that he should just wipe it out with an army of zombies. He picks his zombies from the worst of the worst, a rapist, a murderess, and a guy who can fight really well. OK, I think the demon picked that last one just for style points. He possesses these dregs and turns them into zombies, and they ride around on their bikes decapitating people and collecting the heads.

At the same time that this starts up, a new kid, Ken (Tyrus Woodson), moves into the neighborhood. He rides a wussy off-road scooter-type thing, so quickly becomes an object of mockery to the local boys with real bikes. Contempt turns to hatred when Ken starts dating Courtney (Jillian Buckshaw), the lust object of one of the local boys. Ken is a sensitive artist type, though, and the locals are all assholes, so Courtney's choice is clear.

The movie is made in a mishmash style. Parts are shot in widescreen format, and parts TV format, so the filmmakers just took the TV parts and widened the image to match the widescreen, resulting in distorted, squat appearances. Also, at times the movie seems to be taken over by the spirit of a motorcycle commercial, spending minutes on slow, panning close-ups of gleaming bikes. It's not even clear if the bikes have riders in these shots: we only infer that from the revving noises added in post-production. My guess is that a motorcycle company lent out their bikes, or money, or both to help make the feature, and this was their condition.

The script goes to great pains to make us feel that the world is a sordid place, but it breaks the rule of "show, don't tell" of filmmaking, namely, we know the world is bad in large part because we have this constant narration from the demon telling us that it is. The film also tries to show the loss of innocence of youth by having the local biker boys sit and crudely discuss sex with teen girls at great length. They prefer girls that can't drive yet, which is made all the more disturbing by the fact that the actors playing these "boys" are clearly in their twenties.

The zombie makeup isn't bad, but still a little cheesy. They're really more subdemons than zombies, except that, like zombies, getting shot doesn't hurt them. This brings up one of the less well done effects: zombies getting shot. The director has the zombies stand there and jerk their bodies as if from the impact of bullets, but the timing of the shot and the jerk isn't always right, and frankly, the jerking just looks stupid. We also see a zombie law being broken as one of them gets shot in the head and is still OK.

Without giving too much away of the plot, even with all the movie's flaws, the plot still starts out OK, but toward the end it suddenly collapses. There really isn't a climax to speak of, or maybe it was there and just so badly done that I didn't notice. Now that I think about it, I can recall scenes where I think the intent was to build suspense, but they didn't really work.

So, although this movie had some elements that worked, for the most part I sat there noticing its flaws, and I ended up being disappointed. Don't let the cool title fool you, this is really nothing special, except in its badness.