My entry for this month’s zombie movie viewing extravaganza was “Oh! My Zombie Mermaid.” Let’s be up front about this: I had watched the trailer three times trying to figure out if the movie would be disqualified for not having any zombies in it. I decided that it might be too close to call. I wasn’t going to risk it. Then I forgot to take it off the top of the Netflix queue. Eh, screw it, I said. It’s got the word “zombie” right in the title! How can it fail? And what, am I going to send back a movie called “Oh! My Zombie Mermaid” without having watched it? Not bloody likely!
Shishio is a relatively famous Japanese wrestler who is living the dream. Hot wife, son, daughter, hot sister-in-law who he works with, and best of all- a brand new house! Unfortunately, the house warming is soon crashed by some bad guy wrestlers who apparently didn’t get the memo that the rivalries are supposed to be staged and kept in the ring. A long and wacky brawl ensues, culminating in a bomb blowing up the prized new house. Worse still, Shishio’s beloved wife was caught in the explosion. After she miraculously wakes from a coma, it is discovered that her skin is peeling off and there are scales underneath. She has become a mermaid! Isn’t that always the way? Damn you, God, for letting people blow up and turn into mermaids! Why, God, why?
Believing that rebuilding the house will keep his mer-wife from killing herself, Shishio decides to take the money offered by a shady TV producer and agrees to a series of televised death matches to take place inside the reconstructed mansion. The catch is that Shishio must win to claim possession of the house. Given that losing means he would be dead, this seems like an obvious stipulation. Many battles take place inside various rooms of the house and eventually good triumphs over evil and even the shady TV guy gets what’s coming to him. There seems to be no cure for mermaid disease, but wifey decides to live happily ever after with her hubby and kids anyway. They just have to live closer to the ocean now.
The good news is that I found this movie to be thoroughly entertaining. We’ve had a string of disappointing Asian films but happily, OMZM bucks that trend and delivers all the wacky wackiness we’ve come to expect from Japan. But it doesn’t only stick to “ain’t Asians weird?”- style comedy, it’s also a genuinely funny comedy outright. Also, because the death matches are done in a pro wrestling style instead of martial arts, they never get dull. In fact, the only thing that kept this movie from sniffing the rarified air of kind of near the top of the list is that it’s nooooooooot quite a zombie movie. I don’t know why they threw that “zombie” in the title, I really don’t. Wifey is way more mermaid and actually not at all zombie, really. BUT… one of the pro wrestler opponents is a zombie. I think. He did become disemboweled and tried to strangle Shishio with his intestines. Plus he was pretty hard to kill. OMZM qualifies as a zombie movie…but just barely. Like by a thread. A very loose thread that only claims thread status on a legal technicality. I’d recommend it as a regular movie before I would go bragging about its zomberific qualities, that’s for sure. Grade: B
Next up was some classic Italian horror in “Burial Ground: Nights of Terror.” And, brother, they are not kidding about the burial ground thing. There was no part of that mansion’s property that didn’t have a zombie formerly resting in peace under a thin pile of grass.
This is your classic horror movie stuff. Group of people arrive at a place, start fucking, start dying, make the worst possible decision at every opportunity, die some more. It’s a shame they couldn’t have been warned not to go there by a crazy old local first. You really can’t go wrong with this format and even as bad as the make-up, acting and editing was, at least I wasn’t falling asleep. But when “doesn’t put you to sleep” is the best thing you can say about a film, it’s still not exactly a compliment. I did concede some points for uniqueness. The zombies grab weapons and tools and use them effectively. They can even climb and work together. But, God they are slow. The answer was always “go around them!” yet the idiot characters couldn’t seem to grasp that, choosing instead to shriek in terror and stand rooted in place for the five minutes it took to be grabbed and eaten. Also, it should be mentioned that one of the characters is a little boy that is played by a man. So Japan does not have a monopoly on weirdness. So there’s that. But still….the grade is D+