H. Lynn Smith
Ellen C. Bode
John D. Kelly
Aisha Renée Moore
Ellie St. John
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Attack of the Vegan Zombies (2010)
5th Apr 10
Jim and Dionne's wine crop continually fails, so Dionne talks her witch mother into casting a spell over this years crops with disastrous low budget results.
Joe and Dionne own a vineyard that hasn't been doing very well for a very long time. Joe, ready to throw the towel in, hits the bottle but in her desperation Dionne turns to her mother, who happens to be a powerful witch. She agrees to help, even though she hates the fact that they live on this vineyard and wants to move to the city, so they cast a spell with some of Joe's blood as the key ingredient to secure a good crop next year.
Lo and behold next year they have a massive crop, so much so they need help picking all the grapes, so Joe calls his old professor friend to bring some students to help out and to conduct some experiments to find out what had happened to produce such big vines. The two nerds get right into it, taking soil samples right away while bantering about Star Trek together, while the two cheerleaders do their best to avoid doing any work. Then it's lunchtime, and they all sit, eat, drink wine and even have time to chat to a neighbouring farmer who joins them. He's not had as good a crop this year so walking home he decides to investigate, but getting a little too close to the vines after drinking alcohol is a bad move.
It seems when they cast the spell last year, the mother didn't know Joe had been drinking. As they used his blood that's given these vines a taste for the good stuff too, or anyone that has been drinking it, and therefore has it in their blood. So the race is on - firstly the vines take out the telephone wires (and the lack of mobile reception is pointed out earlier), then they clog the car engines up too. That makes them stranded and, you know, you can probably guess the rest.
It's awesome that people are still getting off their arses and making no-budget movies like this, and it's with a sly smile that you watch a movie like this, because you're not sure how to take it. It's like juggling: anyone who can juggle three balls can say they can juggle, but what does it take to become a professional juggler? If your friend can keep three juggling balls in the air for a minute you'd tell him he was pretty good, but would he decide to give up work then and indulge his passion for juggling? And ultimately, is it fair to compare his juggling skills to that of professional jugglers who can juggle five flaming batons, as obvioulsly in comparison he's not very good at all?
I think you know what we're saying here. For a lot of the film, Attack of the Vegan Zombies is quite a laugh. It helps that most of the cast aren't actually that bad actors - the geek boys in particular have been transplanted straight out of Revenge of the Nerds, the mum holds the screen well and Dionne, who's actually the lead, is reasonably convincing. Jim Sherman too is an okay actor even if he does look slightly vacant all the time, but writing, directing and starring does that to you. Not got as many nice things to say about the professor, the neighbour and the two cheerleaders, especially the first one who turns in to a green vegan zombie, just after the lesbian scene.
Yes, green vegan zombie. Yes, lesbian scene, with a little bit of boobies thrown in for good measure. There's also a ropily edited decapitation scene and at one point a zombie is almost pushed in to a mangler (we're suppposed to believe he's crushed by it judging by all then green goo). It's all very silly actually, and part of you wants to turn it off, but like I said this is a no-budget flick and I imagine most of the actors have, you know, other jobs, so there's this likability factor that catches you. Man, I'm still watching this movie because they had a lesbian scene, and because the just hacked their neighbours head off, and I want more of it.
Sadly, of course, it does wear it's low budget credentials on it's sleeve. Those sequences where everyone stands in one shot, huddle together, with one character screaming "Oh my God, we have to save them!" while another cries "Can everyone just calm down!" always look cheap, and some shots are overly long and punctuated by an overly exciteable casio-like score. Similarly there's not enough of the highlights - the decaps and the manglings, and maybe even the lesbian scenes. And while the cinematography in general is way better than you'd expect for the money involved, the choppy editing lets down a couple of key action scenes.
So, you know, well done for having a go, but try a little harder next time. Maybe spend a bit more time on the zombie make-up (green greasepaint don't really cut it) and put a bit more violence in. Also maybe make a decision early whether this is going to be a comedy or a serious film and then stick with that, instead of mixing characters that take things seriously (like Jim and Dionne) with slapstick characters (like the nerdy scientists). Having said that, the scenes of the nerds trying to collectively get in to the cheerleaders' pants are actually surprisingly funny, and while cool arty vineyard shots are impressive, getting comedy to work and directing it well is a tad harder, so maybe the Sherman fella does have something to watch. But ultimately, it's ironic that the rough bits, like the decapitation and the lesbain encounter and the ropey green zombies, are the bits you pine for even though the cinematopgraphy from the slower sequences is very decent. What do you know?
All in all, though this isn't the worst no-budget zombie movie I've ever seen, it's far from the best. But, while initially you walk away feeling quite indifferent towards this films short comings, it is hard to ignore some of its charms. I'll be intrigued to see what they come up with next.