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American Zombie (DVD Review)

6 Jul, 2008 By: John Latchem

American Zombie

Street 7/8/08
Cinema Libre
Box Office $0.003 million
$24.95 DVD
Not rated

American Zombie is a new mockumentary that profiles a group of high-functioning zombies and their daily existence.

As stated by director Grace Lee and co-writer Rebecca Sonnenshine, the film is as much a satire about life in Los Angeles as it is a tongue-in-cheek examination of the zombie genre. In that regard it fits very much in the mold of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and its classic episode “The Zeppo.”

According to the film, zombies are disoriented shortly after reanimation, giving rise to their clichéd ghoulish activity. They often are mistaken for homeless people, but with time some manage to maintain a normal life, find jobs and contribute to society.

Lee and her onscreen co-director, John Solomon, take viewers through several issues related to zombie (un)living. The undead are presented in various states of decay, presumably related to the circumstances of their death. Some must go through routine procedures to clean maggots from gaping sores.

One zombie girl likes to create scrapbooks and dreams of one day marrying a human. Another woman agrees to be filmed in hopes the documentary can uncover clues to her life before death. We also see profiles of bureaucrats trying to track the revenant population, humans who prefer to date the undead, and people who specialize in hunting zombies. The movie even offers a pseudo-scientific explanation of the reanimation process.

The movie is clever but not especially edgy. Some of the best moments occur when Lee and Solomon bicker over what they want to cover. Convinced that zombies are addicted to human flesh, Solomon insists everyone he interviews shows off their refrigerator. Lee prefers to be more sympathetic.

The ultimate goal is to steal a glimpse of Live Dead, a sort-of zombie Woodstock the filmmakers are not being allowed to attend. Does that rule have something to do with a potential human sacrifice and feast of flesh for the attendees?

The movie drags for about a half-hour after makings its point, losing focus and settling into a Blair Witch-style finale. Still, horror fans should enjoy the various parody elements.

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