ATTACK OF THE VEGAN ZOMBIES!
Attack of the Vegan Zombies! comes with one of the most amusing titles to date among these zombie movie parodies. In fact, the great surprise about sitting to watch the film is how seriously it takes itself. It is not a parody, the characters are not cartoonish caricatures, and there are no sarcastic witticisms or absurdly over-the-top splatter effects. Indeed, the wackiest part about the film is the title itself and thereafter the script does a remarkably straight-faced job of trying to expand the basic notion out as a quasi-plausible idea.
What I liked about Attack of the Vegan Zombies! is that it is well written. Jim Townsend pays careful attention to the characters present even when it comes to cliche characters like the nerds or the airhead party girls allowing them to emerge with three-dimensional life, not as cut-out caricatures. Indeed, it took some puzzled effort on my part wondering, as I was watching an realistically grounded film of natural characterisations, why it ended up with a tongue-in-cheek title like Attack of the Vegan Zombies!. Jim Townsend (who himself plays the part of the husband) gets some generally worthwhile performances, in particular an intelligent and assured one from Christine Egan as the wife. Though she does not appear to have any other screen credentials to her name, Egan is someone you could easily imagine going onto a mainstream acting career elsewhere. There is a naturalism and occasional wit to the dialogue and interplay of the characters that makes the film move with a convincing ease I particularly liked the scenes where Christine Egan tells how she had to explain away her mothers witchcraft to her husband as her being a herbalist, which he then took as her being a dope dealer. It is all shot with a professionalism that belies the self-confessed micro-budgeted nature of the film.
On the minus side, there is a little too much effort during the early scenes to create false atmosphere via a soundtrack filled with constantly amplified rumbling, slithering and blowing noises. These are effects that are used by a great many low-budget horror films to pump up atmosphere during mundane scenes where none exists and is something that has by now well and truly become a cliche. There is a lesbian sex scene for no other particular reason other than that its one of those films although this is too brief to attain the exploitation value such scenes usually do in horror films.
The other disappointment with Attack of the Vegan Zombies! is that structurally the film is almost three-quarters build up. The emergence of the zombies in the last ten minutes is far too brief and lacks any of the apocalyptic siege mentality that zombie classics like Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1979) or even Shaun of the Dead have. There are some good effects scenes particularly a scene where a snipping of the vine is placed under a glass container on the table and sits there angrily writhing; or where Natalia Jablokov opens her mouth and vomits forth a strand of vine to strangle Walter Lewis. Despite various scenes with zombie heads being crushed in winepresses, the film is very low on the expected splatter effects that are fairly much de rigeur for a zombie film. Plus the green makeup and goo that is spilt in lieu of blood tends to take these into the realm of unserious splatter effects. It is only during these latter zombie attack scenes, which come accompanied by several amusingly sarcastic lines, that Attack of the Vegan Zombies! at last starts to approach the tongue-in-cheek zombie film its title suggests it is meant to be taken as.
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