Humans vs. Zombies may be the only movie to ever be based on a game kids play on college campuses. Unless there’s a Beer Pong movie I don’t know about. The premise is simple but effective. The goverment wants to thin the herd a bit so they’ve unleashed a zombie virus covered by the media as sicknesses and also something to do with oil spills; it’s not really that important. Soon enough, a collection of typical character archetypes are gathered together to try and survive a game of ‘Humans vs. Zombies’ that has suddenly turned horrifyingly real. Who will survive? Jock? Stoner? Nerd? Gamer Girl? Pretty Girl? Crazy Security Guard?
The plot is thin, as it’s just basic traveling from one spot to another, trying to stay ahead of the zombies and, of course, failing one by one. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is how long it takes to get to the good stuff. The first half hour is a waste of time as we get to know each and every potential zombie entree. Nerd loves Pretty Girl but can’t work up the nerve to talk to her. Jock loves Gamer Girl because she’s the one chick who’s not into him. Crazy Security Guard is a little unhinged and full of conspiracy theories. It becomes quickly tedious, especially considering these characters are so particularly unoriginal. Oh, and conveniently enough, all these people are friends somehow because… college is the place where high school cliques go to die and everyone just knows everyone? I guess that’s plausible on the surface, but in the movie, it comes off as kind of dumb.
The zombies themselves are vicious and fast and are a considerable threat. The acting is not as terrible as would normally be expected. Just something about the whole film didn’t click for me. It’s above average to be sure, but it’s pretty run of the mill. I wasn’t particularly engaged by it, especially after too much exposition and too little plot-wise. However, I do give them credit for a dynamite ending that goes from laughable to awesome in the few seconds it takes to start rolling the credits. That definitely earned enough good will for me to bump this up to a perhaps-too-kind grade of B.
We’re running out of time as the 4th (!) Annual Golden Zombey Awards are only a couple of months away and my brother noticed that we are unusually thin at Foreign Language Films. In that spirit, we watched Tokyo Gore Police. It’s from the makers of Helldriver so at the very least, we were in for some wacky Japanese action that appears to be in on the joke.
Ruka is a badass who is part of a futuristic police force in a world where law enforcement has been privatized. She specializes in hunting down “Engineers,” who are former humans who have been enhanced by a man-made tumor that allows them super-human abilities and the power to regenerate lost body parts as weapons. Get your arm chopped off? Grow a chainsaw back! Lose your face? Grow gun barrels for eyes! (I told you this movie was Japanese). As she searches for the Engineers, Ruka discovers a deeper conspiracy involving the death of her father and the initial privatization of the police force. Like Helldriver, the plot is there if you want it, but the film is really just an excuse for wacky setpiece battles between various freak show inhabitants. Also like Helldriver, there is an undercurrent of social commentary that is not heavy-handed and works surprisingly well as entertainment. Particularly funny are the fake ads snuck in between scenes, like a PSA telling you not to literally kill yourself over your job. “Hara-kiri is suicide!”
Sadly, while I enjoyed the film, I have to penalize it for not being a zombie flick. I wasn’t passionate enough as I was for Evil Dead to start a real conversation about it, but I would not have objected strongly if anyone else had called for a DQ. The Engineers are altered humans and do harm to others but they don’t come off as zombies at all. They are clearly mutants. It would be like saying Wolverine and Storm are zombies. We were misled by a deceiving and downright incorrect plot synopsis. But like I said, it didn’t really matter to me. I guess I can forgive altered humans more easily than demons. Grade: B