Plaga Zombie 2: Zona Mutante (2001)

Plaga Zombie 2: Zona Mutante (2001)

Plaga Zombie 2: Zona Mutante (2001)

Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante‘ is the sequel to the low budget Argentine cult zombie-splatter film ‘Plaga Zombie‘. This follow-up is written, directed and acted by the same cast and crew that made the first film such a madcap, and gore-filled, delight.

Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante picks up pretty much immediately where the first film (1997’s Plaga Zombie) leaves off. Production took four years on and off and it’s a relief to find that, whatever the problems off-screen, the team have lost none of the energy, exuberance and balls to the wall imagination that makes the first film so much fun. It’s also a relief to find that the increased budget (a dizzying $3,000) hasn’t changed the film’s approach or aesthetic. There’s no doubt that Zona Mutante looks better, mostly in the way it’s shot, but the effects remain satisfyingly homemade and the plot remains the story of three friends in extraordinary circumstances.

The first problem the film has to deal with is that, at the end of Plaga Zombie, only the reluctant hero Bill was left alive of the central trio, doctor Max and wrestler John having been killed. Rather than wasting time on how to bring these two back to life the film just does it, then makes the lack of an explanation a running joke, whilst also hinting at something more sinister. The Plaga Zombie series never takes itself too seriously so can get away with this sort of thing with genial ease.

Plaga Zombie 2: Zona Mutante (2001)

Plaga Zombie 2: Zona Mutante (2001)

This time our three heroes are trying to get out of the city using a map, stolen from a covert government agent, whilst battling hordes of the undead and avoiding the government forces who want their map back. There’s more going on here plot-wise than in the first movie (conspiracy theories, a duplicate Max, and a significant lollipop), and that stuff is easily engaging enough to draw you through the film. There’s also a strong emotional plotline, albeit one that’s realised in typically over the top Plaga Zombie style, driving the three friends apart as they are pushed to their limits.

The characters and plotline are important and I maintain that those are the elements that sets Plaga Zombie apart from similarly budgeted zombie gore-fests, but they are meaningless if the film doesn’t also deliver in more grass roots areas. Plaga Zombie was sold on its comedy splatter-gore credentials and Zona Mutante has a lot to live up to. Fortunately, as I said earlier, it doesn’t disappoint, spines are pulled out from necks, faces are ripped off leaving swivelling eyeballs, and a zombie’s intestines are pulled out and used to tie that zombie up. There’s gore, goo and gunge galore and the regular fight scenes are as visceral, messy and impossible as ever.

Plaga Zombie 2: Zona Mutante (2001)

Plaga Zombie 2: Zona Mutante (2001)

The comedy is also present and correct, the John West song is hilarious, the scene where John cannot come to his fiends’ aid because he’s on the toilet is funny too, and the zombies listening to reggae give the film probably its most surreal moment.

What Zona Mutante does is, arguably, what every sequel should do; it keeps what worked in the first film without feeling like it’s going over the same ground; it expands the story whilst remaining focused on the characters; it doesn’t waste its larger budget on FX flash but uses it to tell a better story.

Plaga Zombie 2: Zona Mutante (2001)

Plaga Zombie 2: Zona Mutante (2001)

Whether by accident or design, Zona Mutante, like the original Plaga Zombie, pitches its balance of madness versus seriousness and emotion versus splatter-gore just right. The characters are as entertaining as ever but there are still moments of genuine pathos. It’s tribute to Pablo Pares, Hernan Saez and Berta Muniz that those moments sit comfortably alongside a zombie having a stick shoved so far up its backside that the top of its head comes off and spins round. There’s nothing subtle about the action in Zona Mutante and nothing understated about the plotline, but the characters, however larger than life they may be at times, hold it together.

It’s got a great ending too, leaving you salivating in anticipation of the next installment!

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Written by: Robin Bailes