Redneck Zombies (1989)

Redneck Zombies (1987)

Redneck Zombies (1989) When I was in grade school, some high-schoolers in my town shot a parody of Speed (1994) except with a lawn mower that chased people around our town.

It played on our local access channel and I thought it was just about the fucking coolest thing ever.

Redneck Zombies (1987) looks an awful lot like that movie, meaning it looks like it was made for $1.00. Shot entirely on videotape before being sold on the home video market, Redneck Zombies starts as a god-awful college film and ends with 20 unexpected minutes of hyper-real VHS snuff gore.

The grade schooler in me is kind’ve in awe, just the like the ol’ days.

Middle School Dropout:

Redneck Zombies

Redneck Zombies

The movie opens with a lost barrel of chemical warfare nuclear waste tumbling off an army truck in redneck country. You know, the kind of grossly overused redneck stereotype country. The hicks use the barrel as part of their still and accidentally start drinking the stuff from it. Just a few instances of pandering to the camera and poorly placed gay jokes later, everyone’s eating everybody (including a baby zombie. Awesome.). The black army man who originally lost the chemical waste has already survived several racist encounters, but for how long? A: Not long.

Watching Redneck Zombies feels like watching a middle school play: it’s insufferable, but everybody is trying so hard that you force smile and fake laugh. No offense to the fine folk of ’87, but the acting feels like middle-schoolers too – I feel really bad saying that….like I just drove an entire bus of students into a gorge. So I’ll save it by saying this: the gore is really good. And I don’t use italics to mean I’m talking in a high-pitched voice as I would to a puppy. I use italics to emphasize my surprise. Crafting shitty gore has got to be the most fun part of amateur zombie filmmaking. They must’ve befriended a butcher or something. A head-smashing, eye-popping death is particularly fantastic, as is a genuinely terrifying struggle with a dilapidated corpse towards the film’s conclusion.

In regards to carnage, consider me the dad in the back who snuck in to the play without his son knowing, and clapped the loudest at the end.

Shine On, Stoner College Kids. Shine On:

Redneck Zombies

Redneck Zombies

The best part about movies like these is seeing when things actually work. Your expectations couldn’t be lower, so even the smallest successes are nothing short of miracles. This movie’s awful, but it’s not Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984) awful — another homespun VHS horrorshow of similar ilk. From personally hearing Black Devil Doll from Hell creator Chester Novell Turner speak, that man had no fucking idea what he was doing. But like how his lo-fi opening theme is so infectious — sheerly on luck — the repetitive orchestration at the end of Redneck Zombies, just two notes repeating themselves, works with an impressive finesse. It should be annoying as hell, a terribly judged sonic misstep, but it somehow isn’t. It’s somehow perfect.

I’ll leave the first-thing-that-comes-to-mind Redneck Zombie folk songs, and I’ll take those amazing moments when things lineup. So film on, college kids. America itself is a wonderful accident, so go forth and make your own. And don’t skimp on the intestines.

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Written by: Ben Mueller