In a job like this, you realise after a thousand or so reviews that the bottom of the barrel is a sliding scale, and even though you’ve seen what you think is the worst, there’s always new depths to sink to. You may have thought “Mutant Species” or “The P.A.C.K.” was as bad as David A Prior could get, but I am sad to report that is not the case.
Thanks to a voiceover, we discover that “Zombie Wars” is set 50 years after an unspecified event caused the dead to rise up and start eating people. Humanity has been reduced, at least as far as we know, to 12 small settlements, and they’ve kept and maintained enough guns to form a strong militia that goes out, kills as many zombies as possible and rescues humans. From whom? Well, the zombies in this movie appear to have a rudimentary society and breed humans for food, so occasionally there’s a group of model-beautiful women in their mid-20s being led through the woods for our heroes to help out.
This is, I suppose, an interesting take on the zombie story, but the least thought reveals it’s not. Why are zombies hungry, not being alive and all? Well, because George Romero showed they liked eating people, is the simple answer, because otherwise it just makes no sense. If you do need food, why not just breed some animal that provides a bit more sustenance than skinny humans? If the hunger is some supernatural thing, why do they wait for the humans to get to adulthood before eating them? Why does the human farm not have any children in it? Too many questions for too early in the movie.
Our heroes are two cool brothers, David (Adam Mayfield, best known as a soap actor) and Brian (Jim Hazleton, a Prior semi-regular who retired from the acting biz around 2011). They wisecrack and shoot zombies, all the while continually getting jumped by zombies with incredible stealth powers. Over and over again, to the point you really wish one of them would suggest covering each others’ backs or something like that. The General of their little gang is the helpfully unnamed “General” (Kristi Renee Pearce, who’s a totally good actor and has like two credits, so I assume she works more regularly under a different name in union productions).
I was trying to think of something to say about the vast majority of this movie, but there’s really nothing to it. David gets captured by the zombies, along with one of the women he rescued earlier on, named Star (Alissa Koenig), and taken to the zombie town. Because people who can talk are dangerous, they’re killed straight away, so David keeps his mouth shut; he meets a guy called Sliver (a gentleman by the name of Jonathan Badeen, who appears to be doing an impression of Christian Slater doing an impression of Jack Nicholson) who is a sort of double agent but has a heart of gold.
The General and Brian organise a rescue, there’s a mysteriously well-stocked town with nice clean humans in it which is occasionally glimpsed, and, er, that’s it. So let’s discuss, briefly, the logic behind “Zombie Wars”.
The voiceover tells us that the zombies eat 5 people a day. That’s around 1800 people a year, and if this has been going on for 50 years, we’re talking 90,000 humans eaten. And that’s just this tiny gang of the undead (the settlement appears to have 30 or so zombies in it). The only evidence that the zombies are feeding the humans comes from one small carrot patch tended to by human slaves, and there’s no evidence of a mountain of human bones anywhere either. They say they’re breeding humans but the problem is, humans take a long time to mature compared to other animals, need years and years of parental interaction to stay alive, all that sort of thing.
Also, if you were a human and zombies were everywhere, where would you live? Would you find a nice easily defendible hill, or fortified building, or just some clear area with plenty of sight of things coming your way? Or would you stay in some tents in the middle of the woods, giving approaching zombies all the cover they needed to come and eat you?
I was just really bored of “Zombie Wars”, really quickly. The undead are almost always used as a metaphor in movies, but giving them the rudiments of society while keeping them the same shambling, mindless group, just seems silly. I’m not even mentioning the pathetic makeup effects or the fact we’ve got another damn military base in the middle of the forest in some tents, because it’s par for the course in the Prior-verse. Oh, for those of you keeping count, Ted Prior pops up for a five second wordless cameo as one of the good guy soldiers, right at the very end.
Forgive me for spoilers, but the ending is so utterly stupid I have to mention it. We’ve seen the two guards of the “bad” human village (they taught the zombies how to farm humans so they’d apparently leave them alone? Sure, why not) a few times, sniping zombies as they approach, and right at the end David is emerging from the wilderness, having tried to find Star. First up, the “good” soldiers leave the two guards with their rifles as they walk into the village, even though they could have been shot with those rifles as soon as their backs were turned; then, they see David, a perfectly clean human who doesn’t look anything like a zombie, and just shoot him. Now, this is perhaps a reference to the ending of “Night Of The Living Dead”, but it’s a really cloth-eared one.
I’d say the acting is pretty strong, but absolutely nothing else is. Prior really should have quit in the late 90s, I’ve got no idea why he’d wait all that time and come back with something like this. A waste of time on every level.
Rating: thumbs down