As I continue to try and reach some sort of consistency with my movie reviews, I manage to find more and more films that I have no recollection of ever obtaining. Tonight’s viewing pleasure goes to another that I knew nothing about beforehand, George Bennett’s American Zombieland.
Sam (Dave Mussen, Trafficked) is an aspiring filmmaker who, after being rejected by yet another film festival, scores the chance of a lifetime when he decides to make the first ever zombie film featuring real zombies, during an unexpected outbreak.
It is really difficult to predict what you’re getting yourself into when you throw on a low-budget indie flick for the first time. I have seen enough from this genre to know that films like this can range from pretty damn impressive to outright torturous to sit through. I must be a glutton for punishment, however, since I continue to put myself in these situation. Luckily for me, American Zombieland falls into the former category, providing a pretty entertaining experience.
American Zombieland, like most independent cinema I’ve encountered, features a cast of complete unknowns, at least to me. Being unfamiliar with the actors in a film is not a bad thing though. In fact, I prefer this to having a star-studded cast more often than not. There is a rather large cast introduced throughout the film’s 88 minute runtime, all of which do a very good job with their respective roles.
Generally, films on a shoestring budget stick to a smaller cast to carry their story. Not American Zombieland. Sure, like any movie worth their salt, there remains a core group of protagonists. The characters of Sam, Tibo, JoJo, and Popper make up this group, each one providing more than their fair share of comedic relief. They are joined by a large number of others, however, all doing a remarkable job of impressing me throughout. Hell, even the extras with only a line or two in American Zombieland impressed me more than most actors I have suffered through for over 90+ minutes in my low-budget past!
Originally titled Fat Ass Zombies, American Zombieland is a horror comedy based on zombies. I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t original by any means. And you’re right. There are still filmmakers other than Edgar Wright and Ruben Fleischer who can capitalize on this genre marriage though.
One of the most important aspects of a zombie film, whether comedic or of a more serious nature, is how the zombies themselves are actually presented. We’ve seen everything from Romero’s “ghouls” to “The Walking Dead”‘s 90% decomposed “walkers,” “biters,” and whatever else they’ve called them during that show’s tenure. American Zombieland‘s antagonists are somewhere in the middle. They aren’t falling apart or overly bloodsoaked, considering the outbreak has just started, but they are turned enough to impress even the most jaded zombie fan, I’d imagine. There is even a zombie infant thrown around at one point.
What’s the second most important thing to look for in a zombie movie? The kills! Thankfully co-writer/director/producer George Bennett has delivered in that department, as well.
American Zombieland does not feature tons of on-screen kills or countless over-the-top zombie buffets, but the stuff that Bennett and team do decide to show more explicitly is all a welcome sight. Things like be-headings and the expected bite here and there look great, as well as the not-so-expected bitten off penis.
American Zombieland at Home
American Zombieland is now available to own on DVD from ITN Distribution and Mill Creek Entertainment. This DVD only release is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format and features and English language Dolby Digital audio track.
This is the second ITN Distribution release that I’ve watched in the same amount of weeks that claims to feature English SDH subtitles. Yet, like last time, they were no where to be found on the actual disc.
In terms of bonus content, the only thing available here is a trailer for the film.
American Zombieland may not be up there with Zombieland, Cockneys vs Zombies, Shaun of the Dead, or whatever other measuring stick you use for zom-coms, but it is certainly worth a watch and deserves more eyes on it than I’m sure it has at the moment.
This 2020 film isn’t the most exciting and may even be too silly for some, but it does feature a talented cast, impressive special effects, and even provides a number of laugh out loud moments. Give it a watch for yourself, as I give this one a final rating of 3.5 ninja zombie kill moves out of 5.