For the Map of Zombies, ideas trump execution. The Map lists zombie sources without prejudice to quality or lack thereof. I wanted to list stories that did interesting things with the concepts of zombies, or were important to the development of the idea of zombies.
But of course I have my opinions about everything listed there. In most cases, if I really hated something, I just didn’t give it a text description. (OTOH, there are some things I didn’t personally like that have text descriptions because they’re just so weird & notable, my opinion aside.) There are a VERY few things intentionally kept off because they were bad AND I discovered them really late in the process (like “Infected”, that awful movie on Netflix, or “Hellgate”, which is more like a ghost movie anyway). On that note, what are the worst zombie movies I watched while working on “The Map of Zombies” (or before, throughout my life)? No, it’s not “Zombie Lake” or even “Oasis of the Zombies”… you thought THOSE were bad? Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!!!…
* Beast Within/Virus Undead: One of the many “Netflix awfuls.” It’s not so far in premise from “The Rage,” a movie which is also completely idiotic, but at least knows it and is sort of fun and full of over-the-top gore effects. OTOH, “Virus Undead” takes its idiotic plot completely seriously (except perhaps for the inevitable line in the cop’s dialogue when he talks about donuts — OH HOW HILARIOUS). Also, the makeup is bad, the zombies are unthreatening, and the actors are unable to hide their strong Germanic/Eastern European accents, despite the fact that they’re supposed to be playing Americans. Get a bunch of people from different parts of the world to come together in cooperation to make something completely lame, and you have this movie.
* Zombie Hunter: In contrast to the totally-straightfaced drama of “Virus Undead,” “Zombie Hunter” tries to be self-aware and ironic and hipster-y (in that always-so-appealing “we don’t give a shit about this plot, why should you?” way), with its “bullet time” and bright pink blood and titles announcing the characters’ names. It’s better than “Virus Undead,” but for just general lack of originality and lack of reason to make me care (not to mention shamelessly exploiting Danny Trejo’s face on the poster, like “Rise of the Zombies”, even though he isn’t even the titular Zombie Hunter) it still ends up being even worse than Uwe Boll’s “Zombie Massacre”.
* Frozen Scream: The most laughably amateurish movie I can imagine. I just feel sorry for everyone involved with it. The editing and shooting is so bad that the voice-over intrudes and cuts between scenes while characters are talking, cutting them off mid-sentence. I love the moment when the narrator/voice-over, a hard-boiled P.I., says “This is some bad acting!” He’s referring to one of the characters within the movie but… …. do you get it?… can this not have been intentional? Some sabotage by someone involved?
* Alien Dead: OK, maybe this one is even worse than “Frozen Scream.” Nominally the plot involves a meteor landing in a swamp and turning the local rednecks into zombies, but it’s so poorly constructed it’s pretty pointless to speak of it as being a narrative. The best part of the movie is the boring title sequence when the titles play as some murky swamp water coalesces into a red and blue-ish starry galactic backdrop, or something. If for some reason you watch this, stop after the opening credits, trust me. It’s set in the South, and every character in this movie is an idiotic caricature of a Southern hillbilly; the director has so much fun with this sub-“Li’l Abner” routine that he spends most of the running time on folks bein’ dumb and the zombies barely do anything until the end of the picture, when, even then, they don’t really do anything. Truly painful to watch and inspires furious anger towards the director.
* 13 Eerie: Just **** this movie. **** this movie and the people in charge of grooming its Wikipedia page, which makes it sound like it got great reviews. This movie is about what happens when you hire a couple of underpaid actors for the weekend in some shacks in the woods and two burly unthreatening guys poorly made-up as bald zombies show up. After its abrupt ending I was so mad I kicked my laptop across the room and had to buy a new one.
* Strippers vs. Zombies: This is a mockbuster of “Zombie Strippers,” a far superior film. First mull that over for a second. Anyway, the director sadly attempts to make some sort of junior-high-level social satire out of it, with the strip club owner being obsessed with the right-wing host of a crappy TV show, but the resulting product is tedious and unwatchable.
* Zombie 108: Actually, this isn’t nearly as bad as the other movies listed here. I’m just throwing it out there because it ornaments its zombie plot with a lengthy subplot involving a kidnapper/rapist. If you like 30 minutes of R-rated rape/torture scenes mixed with your bland, otherwise-lighthearted zombie action, go for it. If I wanted rape zombies, of course, I’d watch David Cronenberg’s classic & awesome “Shivers.”
There’s a few other movies that come close to this (for example, I ultimately left “The Dead Pit” off the Map because it was so dumb and, also, space considerations), but these ones stick out in my mind. But even though I hated ’em (with perhaps a bit of love for “Frozen Scream” like the way you love a photo of some drooling puppy), I’m glad I watched them all and got them on the poster.
NEXT UPDATE: Wednesday!