Die You Zombie Bastards! (2005) 1 brain1 brain1 brain

For those who aren't used to watching bad, low-budget films, this film may seem like one of those, unless they're paying attention or watching with an open mind. But if you've seen your share of schlock, there's no question that this film is a fantastic piece of low-budget filmmaking. The kind of humor the movie is aiming for is set in the very beginning, when we see a young couple getting hot and heavy in a car in the woods, with a killer watching from the bushes. He creeps up behind them and is ready to impale them both with a scythe, as is the duty of the psychopath/moral watchdog in horror films, when the girl says to the boy "I love you." At this point the killer's expression softens, and he murmurs "She loves him," with a blissful smile on his face, and he goes and finds some pot-smoking hippies to kill instead.

Director Caleb Emerson loves to take cliches like this and make them ridiculous. One thing he does in particular to turn things on their ear is to make the above-mentioned killer the hero of the movie, Red Toole (Tim Gerstmar). Red and his wife Violet (Pippi Zornoza) are sort of like ultraviolent versions of the Munsters (sans Grandpa and the kids), a loving, happy couple who just happen to kill for fun and feast on the flesh of their victims. When Violet is kidnapped by the evil Baron Nefarious (Geoff Mosher) to be his consort, Red goes on a quest to rescue her, wearing the superhero costume that Violet made for him, complete with severed penis and cape of human skin.

Baron Nefarious wants to turn the world into zombies, but he's starting on a smaller scale, turning his prisoners into zombies and sending them against Red. The zombie makeup is typical of Emerson's approach: he can't make them realistic, so he makes them ridiculous, with unnaturally green body paint and neon lipstick and wigs. This theme runs through the whole movie: he can't hire great actors, so he makes the acting and dialog superlatively hammy. He can't afford good props, so he makes them incredibly fake-looking. This could easily have gone wrong and just been another bad film, but under Emerson's writing and directon, it all works as a mockery of horror films and of itself.

As Red journies to try to locate and rescue Violet, he has a series of amusing side adventures, and often the characters he encounters will tell him bizarre stories that may or may not be connected with his quest. A Jamaican guy in a bathtub (Lon E. Plynton) tells Red the "scary" story of Coconut Head Face Man, a psycho who terrorized young couples on the Jamaican beaches.

One flaw this film had was that it dragged on a bit toward the end. As Red traveled around from place to place, I started thinking, "Enough already, get to the rescue scene!" But other than that this was a very enjoyable film, and a pleasant surprise.