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Review: Zombie Nosh

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The opening moments to George A. Romero’s 1968 classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD have seeped into the very fabric of popular culture. It remains, not just one of the greatest horror movies ever made, but, I believe, one the great American movies of all time.

That moment in the bleak and still graveyard, when Johnny says to his sister, ‘They’re coming to get you Barbara…. Look! There comes one of them now!’ and we get to see the first modern movie zombie amble onto screen, is a defying moment in the history of cinema. That shambling ghoul, who earned his place in celluloid history, was played by Romero’s long time right-hand-man Bill Hinzman. He shot a few flicks for George in the 70s, most notably the original version of THE CRAZIES, but big Bill had aspirations to direct himself.

Shackled by his own iconic legacy as the cemetery zombie, Hinzman went into production some twenty years after NIGHT to write, produce, direct, star, edit, make the tea – I don’t know what else – a film known in the UK as ZOMBIE NOSH – surely a contender for one of the best horror movie titles ever! (In the US, the film is known as FLESHEATERS or even REVENGE OF THE LIVING ZOMBIES). Now I’m guessing the idea here was to bring back the good old cemetery zombie from NIGHT and see what kind of attics he can get up to one Halloween night….

A group of college kids go out to the middle-of-nowhere for shits and giggles, but it just looks fricking freezing to me. The plot, what there is of it, concerns these young go-getters being in the wrong place at the wrong time (of course), as they happen to be partying up in the woods just as Hinzman’s zombie is reawakened…. somehow, I’m a bit hazy as to why. But that doesn’t matter because as soon as Hinzman turns up – after about what feels like 20 long minutes of these kids attempting to deliver their lines, and several inexplicable long shots of tractors(!) – then, well, all hell breaks loose.

The plot, the camera work, the actors, all these elements shuffle through the film like, well, a zombie (sorry). I pointed out the camera work because this film contains some the longest shots I’ve ever seen – not beautifully framed tracking shots enriching the story and giving a deeper sense of character and form, no, these are locked off shots that just linger and capture absolutely nothing. The aforementioned tractor shots are a laugh riot, but there are also sequences where we actually watch a woman get out of the shower, completely naked (Hinzman somehow accomplishes making titillation boring) and dry herself off and comb her hair, and I’m not kidding, actual minutes fall off the clock.

Anyway, Hinzman bites a few of the kids and turns them into zombies and they all go out looking for nosh, and the film meanders on. A few of the college kids, now running for their lives, stumble upon a Halloween dance in a barn – my favourite section of the film – and of course, the zombies crash the party.

There’s plenty of gore and no-excuse nakedness, and Hinzman does have a few interesting little set pieces, although he never quite manages to pull them off. One of the most effective scenes features a young boy and girl curving a Jack O’ Lantern in their kitchen, when suddenly there comes a knocking at the front door. The little girl, dressed in her Halloween costume, goes to answer it. Of course, it’s Hinzman, and the little girl, thinking he’s dressed up trick or treating, offers our favourite zombie a sweetie. It doesn’t end well for the little girl.

The ending however rips off NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD so badly it’s just embarrassing to watch. But that said, I really do have a soft spot for this absolute nonsense. Me and a friend of mine first got this film out from the video shop back in the early 90s, simply because we fell about laughing at the title, and we had one hell of a joyous night taking it in I can tell you.

So, if you’re a lover of bad horror films – as I am – then ZOMBIE NOSH is the film for you this Halloween. Go check it out!

A.D. Barker © October 2011

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