Review: ZMD: ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION

ZMD has a lot of balls in the air -- zombie movie, coming out story, 9/11 commentary, even a black comedy about small town life -- and any one of which could be fodder for a movie of its own. That's probably my one critique of the film; it doesn't all quite come together. Each strand of the film is fun, a movie in its own right.

Review: ZMD: ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION

When's the worst time to come out to your parents? Xmas?

Eh, possibly. But as long as you do it after gifts have been given and checks cashed, no worries.
Thanksgiving? Maybe, but you'd always hated that serving plate your mother dropped when you told her, right?

What about during a zombie invasion?

Yeah, that could be a problem -- and for Tom and Lance it most certainly is.

In director Kevin Hamedani's ZMD: ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION we follow Tom and Lance (and others) as they make some importance decisions during one of the most inopportune times imaginable: a zombie uprising.

Returning home to Port Gamble, the small, isolated, Washington town he grew up in, New York businessman Tom (Doug Fahl) -- both pressured and supported by his lover Lance (Cooper Hopkins) -- is finally ready to come out and tell his widowed mother that he's gay.

There's some tension of course in this, as Tom is still far less willing to be out than Lance, and still, despite his willingness to tell his mom, even lesswilling to have the rest of the town know he's a 'mo.

The town doesn't have that great of a record accepting gay folks -- especially with the town minister, Reverend Haggis (Bill Johns), running his own, unorthodox ex-gay ministry in the basement of the church. And by unorthodox I mean the strapped to a chair and pumped full of drugs kind....

It's not just a bad time for the gays, though. Local girl Fridda Abbas (Janette Armand), the daughter of Iranian immigrants, is back from college, feeling rebellious and ready to head off into the night with her kinda-sorta-but-not- really-boyfriend / dishwasher.

Fridda's father, Ali (played by Hamedani's own father, Ai) is a very traditional, very overprotective, very dad, dad, not quite sure what to do with his American born and reared daughter. He's also Muslim, a fact that will come back to haunt Fridda later.

As the zombies make their presence known -- faces get pulled off, eyeballs get eaten, and what happens to one little innocent is best not revealed here for fear of spoiling a perfectly dark and twisted joke -- Muslims (and queers) get blamed for the turn of events.

It's here that ZMD reveals it's other agenda (as if it didn't have enough on its plate): social commentary on our post 9/11 world. Sure ZMD is a gorefest, with smatterings of nail your feet torture porn, but it's also very black social commentary. Bloody black social commentary.

Fridda finds herself under suspicion by redneck next door neighbor Joe Miller, convinced that Iraqis (she's Iranian) are behind the outbreak. Miller engages a bit of "enhanced interrogation" on Friday that would make Dick Cheney proud. It'll leave you squirming. Reverend Haggis and his flock believe its the End Times. As confident as they are of total victory -- after all, they have the Most Powerful Zombie Ever, Jesus, on their side -- they don't hesitate to enact a little conversion therapy on poor Lance and Tom, who stumbled into the sanctuary while fleeing from the Walking Dead.

It's really not a good night for any of our heroes.

ZMD has a lot of balls in the air -- zombie movie, coming out story, 9/11 commentary, even a black comedy about small town life -- and any one of which could be fodder for a movie of its own. That's probably my one critique of the film; it doesn't all quite come together. Each strand of the film is fun, a movie in its own right.

So while enjoyable, I finished the film wanting to have seen a full length tale of either subplot. Less is very often more in a script.

I think the humor, gore and suspense and social commentary would resonate more if it was fueling one dramatic arc and not two (or three or four by the time you count the sub- sub- plots.)

That's a criticism, sure, but it's also a complement. Kevin Hamedani's passion comes through in every scene of the film. He's working with a small budget and a bumpy cast of professionals, semi-pros and amateurs, so it is a bit rough around the edges. It still puts to shame 99.5% of the stuff that shows up on a Saturday night on SyFy.

ZMD is currently making the rounds of the festival circuit. As this is an "equal opportunity" zombie flick -- with a little something for the average gay, straight, or blood-lusting fan of horror films -- it's perfect for the midnight slot of any festival, gay, straight or blood lusting.It'll also make for a perfect date night rental. I can't think of a better evening than curled up on the sofa with a date, watching Fridda's boyfriend get face pulled off. Or Tom skewering his undead mother through the wall with a giant poker.

Can you?

For more about the film, including upcoming festival dates, check out the
film's site at: ZMD: Zombies of MassDestruction - A Political Zomedy