Cupid is on the prowl and love is in the air, so it’s only fitting that ZMN would include at least one romantic comedy. Unfortunately, Zombie Dearest is light on both romance and comedy.
Gus is a struggling writer and comedian who lands in hot water with his wife when he mistakes her best friend’s invitation to his own surprise party to be an invitation to an affair. She retreats to her abandoned childhood home; he follows her and promises to fix the place up to make amends. She agrees to this, as long as she gets to be the one to have a job and he stays home to work on his comedy. (wait…what? Sweet deal! I should try almost cheating!) When fixing the septic tank becomes too much to handle, Gus wishes for some help and immediately digs up a subservient zombie who he trains to help him. Coincidence?
One of the biggest problems with Zombie Dearest is that there is no one to get behind and root for. Gus is a terrible husband, whose known character traits include selfishness, laziness and willingness to cheat if given the opportunity. His stand-up comedy act is pretty terrible too; whether that is intentional or not is up for debate. I think he’s supposed to be bad, given his first audience’s reaction, but still, it doesn’t make him adorable or likeable. Gus is just the worst.
His put-upon wife is given little to do except be upset with him, of course, and we never really know her well enough to understand her motivations. She leaves her husband, which presumably wasn’t easy to do, but then immediately takes him back with little argument. Why? It says a lot about your script when Quinto, the day-laboring zombie, is your best character, and even he isn’t as funny as he could have been.
The film tries vaguely to be a take on the monkey paw tale, where making wishes has unintended consequences, but there is no continuity to this at all. The lesson learned is supposed to be “don’t make wishes while holding zombie penises” and when presented, I thought it was a gag. But no, it’s real. The reason for my confusion is because Gus admits that this happened, even though earlier we clearly saw him make his wish by shouting to the heavens.
I’ve already spent too long trying to explain this movie and the more I think about it, the more I hate it. I’m sure that’s the reaction the makers were going for. Oh, but one last thing: we also get the most offensive ending since Nightmare City. Deus Ex Machina! The wife wishes the whole thing never happened and we are transported back to the beginning of the movie. Fine, whatever. But didn’t Gus start out as the narrator? And shouldn’t this have unintended dire consequences instead of being a happy ending? Forget it, I’m done! Ya done pissed me off, Zombie Dearest. I know you’re middle of the pack in our rankings, but I’m giving you a grade of D for dick-wishing.
Next up was an animated feature from the Resident Evil franchise, RE: Damnation. This is their second cartoon, I believe, and they operate independently of the live action films. In this one, Leon Kennedy gets stuck in a vaguely Russian civil war where both sides have stooped to using biological weapons to get what they want. The rebel leaders, who Leon ultimately sides with, have injected themselves with the power to control Lickers, monstrosities that walk on all fours, can climb walls and have exposed musculature and brains. Also, they lick stuff, I guess. The evil government side is doing typically evil labwork, which I’m pretty sure caused a zombie outbreak in the city. They also have giant robot guys who are pretty tough to beat, as blowing them up only knocks their coats off.
The style of the movie takes some getting used to, as it plays like a 2 hour video game cut scene. In some parts, I was ready to grab a controller and take over. This movie would be good for fans who want to advance in the story without having to go through the trouble of playing a game.
The real problem is the story. If both sides are doing bad things, I’m not sure who I’m supposed to be rooting for in this civil war. The American caught in the middle, I suppose, but it’s never really made clear what his motivations are either. The whole thing is a jumbled mess of fake politics that is hard to get into. Maybe if I had more understanding of Resident Evil canon, I would have enjoyed this more, but I’m not so sure. I’ve never played more than half of any RE games, so if I can’t be distracted by saying, “oh cool, it’s Leon!” then what’s in it for me? Certainly not zombies, because just like the RE live action movies, the undead have become an afterthought. The climax is Lickers & Humans vs. Giant Robot Dudes and we never even get to learn what happened to all the zombies we saw earlier. Are they dead forever? I think the ones whose heads turned into tentacles definitely are. I guess it ultimately doesn’t matter. At least our hero gets to save the day simply by not dying and then getting rescued by American jet fighters, who apparently had his back the whole time. Deus Ex Machina is two for two tonight! Grade: C for Capcom.