Continuing my effort to watch every weird-ass movie in the L.A. Library catalog.
Zombie Nation (2004)
We’ve finally done it here at BNFOS Headquarters. We’ve hit rock bottom as far as video crap. This movie does the classic bait and switch as far as DVD cover to actual subject matter. The front and back cover shows a white-eyed zombie chick all chalky gray, with an air of J-Horror about her. The zombie chicks in this movie look NOTHING like that, instead they simply walk around with “raccoon eyes” essentially looking like goth girls from the neck up.
The writer/director is Ulli Lommel, apparently famous for directing The Boogeyman (1980), and for working with Andy Warhol. This shitsterspiece ™ was shot on video tape, not Hi Def (and it wasn’t even given a film look in post production).
Our story concerns psycho cop Joe Singer, who has serious mommy issues, who kidnaps random young women around Los Angeles only to kill them after he’s too impotent to rape them.
Want to know how cheap a production this was? Their L.A. beat cops wear generic black shirts and pants as uniforms (you can tell they just aren’t authentic) and they drive around in an unmarked police car that doesn’t have the built-in radio and computer that all cop cars have. But the absolute best part, and one of the cheapest moves I have ever seen in a film, is that the “police precinct” was shot in a warehouse – a warehouse with no windows, bare concrete floors and walls, and large exposed pipes running horizontally five feet off the ground. They threw up a few cubicle partitions, but they aren’t fooling anyone. Their boss (they never really called him lieutenant or captain, just boss) has a large vertical pipe array with several gauges in a corner of his “office,” which also featured a movie light on a tripod and a gong. Yes, a gong.
The cast is bad, with several standouts. The guy playing Joe Singer is a German actor named Gunter Ziegler. Why have your character say that he was raised as a boy in Alabama when he does it in a noticeably non-Southern German accent? Ziegler is terribly wooden, from his speech to his mannerisms. He’s like the Deutschland version of William Shatner (post-Star Trek, pre-Denny Crane). Singer’s young partner has a pregnant girlfriend who looks and acts more like the kid’s mother. (Don’t cast your friend’s friends, kids.) One of the early female abductees, who tried hard to hide her European accent, pronounced every line like this: “Why. Are. You. Doing. This?” “Where. Are. You. Taking. Me?” “What. Is. Happening. Here?” Apparently when they swtiched to euros in Germany, they also gave up using contractions. Herr Direktor even gives himself the last actor credit in the long-ass opening titles: "and Ulli Lommel." That is an honorific usually reserved for a name actor, so we know how highly Lommel the director thinks of Lommel the actor. He plays a weirdo doctor whose lines consist of repeating over and over "Is it safe?" (changing the emphasis each time). Lommel stole this line from Olivier's Nazi dentist in Marathon Man.
As I mentioned before the zombie effects consist of just putting mascara around the girls’ eyes. Yeah, scary, right? Also, for girls who have come back from the dead, their clothes are all fresh and clean. Apparently, there is dry cleaning in Zombieland. There is some gore but it’s all poorly done. What happened to good old-fashioned low budget gore? Where are the next generation of Tom Savinis and KNBs?
Oh, and one last example of how completely stupid and inept this production is: when veteran cop Joe Singer attempts to slap the handcuffs on one of the girls he grasps each end of one bracelet with the big meaty fingers of BOTH HIS HANDS and tries to get it to lock together. Handcuffs are designed so you can use one hand to slap/lock them on a suspect. It's obvious our veteran cop has never seen a pair of handcuffs before in his life, let alone used one!
If there were an Oscars for Shitty Movies, Zombie Nation would be a contender to sweep all the major categories. Then they'd have to sweep their warehouse set floors.