The Stink of Flesh (2004) 1 brain1 brainhalf brain

We all know the basic zombie film formula: an outbreak of zombies occurs, and a collection of strangers has to band together to fight them off. That's why it's sometimes more interesting to see a film set after the zombies have won, and society has had to adjust its way of life. The plots become more than just a struggle for survival, they are about the different ways that different people cope with the new world.

The Stink of Flesh, directed and written by Scott Phillips, asks the obvious question: What about sex? It's hard enough to find someone else alive, let alone someone to shack up with. Or, in the case of one woman in this movie, some three or four someones to shack up with.

The movie opens with Matool (Kurly Tlapoyawa), a wanderer who has gotten so blasé about fighting zombies that he waits only until they get to safety to hit on a girl who just lost her brother. His weapon of choice is hammer and nails, the huge, foot-long ones, and he's gotten pretty adept at pounding them into zombies' heads. After his encounter with the girl, he's walking along, minding his own business, when a truck comes along and hits him with the door. He wakes to find that he's been kidnapped by Nathan (Ross Kelly), who brings men home to sleep with his wife, Dexy (Diva). Nathan has also brought home a strange young boy (Bryan Gallegos), perhaps for his wife to seduce at some later state. Things go along with Matool, Nathan, and Dexy, as well as with Dexy's mentally handicapped sister Sassy (Kristin Hansen) and her conjoined fetus face, Dotty. But then three soldiers show up, one of them badly wounded by a zombie, and things get more interesting.

The plot may sound like just an excuse for a soft-core zombie film. Certainly, sex in many of its variations is a central theme. But the sex isn't gratuitous, and the movie gets above that, dealing with love, jealousy, and the things we do for our partners, or to get them. Strife arises in the group, and the zombies outside are what keep these people in the same house, interacting, since where else do they have to go?

I pretty much enjoyed the film, although it has some of the flat acting and plot holes typical of budget films. For instance, these people have seen enough people bitten by zombies to know that anyone bitten is eventually going to turn, but they keep the wounded soldier with them in the house, on the off-chance he might recuperate (but actually more as a plot device). Matool is a great character, though, and the script is original and fun. The zombie makeup is pretty good, and a lot of effort went into the fight scenes. This is definitely a good budget film to watch.