John’s Horror Corner: Zoombies (2016), a low budget zombedy using the Jurassic World playbook.
MY CALL: This very low budget zombedy is to Jurassic World (2015) as Jurassic World (2015) is to Jurassic Park (1993); just rehashing things that we once loved in inferior form. But it still has some personality and you can tell the cast and crew had fun with it. MOVIES LIKE Zoombies: If you’re looking for zombie animals then I’ve got your number. Love in the Time of Monsters (2015) featured zombie squirrels, moose, trout, geese and raccoons, and then Warm Bodies (2013), Zombeavers (2014), Victor Frankenstein (2015) and REC 4: Apocalypse (2014) also featured zombie monkeys and baboons. Other zombedies include Shaun of the Dead (2004), Zombie Strippers (2008), Zombieland (2009), Cooties (2015), Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015) and Love in the Time of Monsters (2015). For more solidly gross and recent horror comedy in general try Shaun of the Dead (2004), Zombie Strippers (2008), Zombieland (2009), Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009), Piranha 3D (2010), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Chillerama (2011), Final Destination 5 (2011), Grabbers (2012), Piranha 3DD (2012), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Warm Bodies (2013), Smothered (2014), Zombeavers (2014), The Voices (2014), Housebound (2014), He Never Died (2015), Cooties (2015), Ava’s Possessions (2015), Krampus (2015; not exactly comedy, but occasionally hilarious), The Final Girls (2015), Love in the Time of Monsters (2015), Deathgasm (2015), What We Do in the Shadows (2015) and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015).
Director Glenn Miller (Santa Claws, a kids’ movie) doesn’t have much horror experience, but he does bring a nice touch to this light-hearted, often humorous zombie movie. The CGI is indicative of a quality similar to a ScyFy Channel movie of the week (e.g., Sharknado 2), which can be disheartening for some. But the writing and filmmaking care bestowed upon the opening sequence offers a glimmer of promise. Like an ad for Jurassic World (2015) we are introduced to Eden, a sanctuary for the world’s animals and family-friendly fun education.
But when some infected white-faced monkeys (yes, the Outbreak monkey) are rushed to the veterinary infirmary we know that something is wrong. In an effort to save a recently deceased monkey ethical lines are crossed and some experimental serum is used to revive it…no clue what such a serum is doing here, by the way. Now revived, the zombie monkey proceeds to leap onto the vet’s face and throw her eyeballs at his medical savior. I’d say that sets a pretty strong tone and I don’t think I’m worried about the CGI effects any more, however marginal they may be.
Yes, the effects suck and I don’t mind at all. I should also note that these actors all seem to really enjoy their roles. Their script may not be Shakespeare, but they are owning their lines and it’s really refreshing.
Our zoo is modeled after Jurassic World (2015) and you’ll see some direct nods to it (e.g., the design of the headquarters building, the animal tracking screen, the jeeps, and literally making the comparison in the dialogue). But more like how Jurassic Park (1993) brought some visitors to beta-test and criticize the not yet open to the public facility, here we have college interns starting a pre-opening program. Our John Hammond is Dr. Ellen Rogers (Kim Nielsen; Amityville Terror).
We find zombie giraffes, capuchins, lions, koalas, gorillas and lemurs. What we don’t find is quality gore or attacks. That said, this movie really isn’t “mainstream good” but I also really didn’t hate it. It was an enjoyable watch. Although I admittedly won’t ever be watching it again, I wouldn’t warn people away from it either. It has heart, and for that I look forward to whatever horror Glenn Miller does next.