‘The Zombie Army‘ is a low-budget zombie horror that was directed by Betty Stapleford and written by Roger Scearce.
It was released ‘straight-to-video’ in 1991 by Video Outlaw.
Remember, this is low-budget trash, so if you are expecting a thoughtful and original script, with well rounded characters….well, then you probably have other issues that you need to address before watching this.
The plot goes something like this: Two mental patients get sent to solitary confinement for enjoying each other’s company a little too much. Through an all-too-lengthy introduction we learn that patient number one, Jim, has an issue with “fixation,” which is kind of like an obsessive photographic memory. He has been in an asylum since he was a kid, so now he mistakenly believes he is a doctor. All this is a roundabout way of trying to establish for the audience that Jim is crazy and tries to make sense of the fact that once the two are let out of their confinement by soldiers, who have taken over the now-closed asylum, Jim begins to experiment on a couple of poor drunk saps that he is able to kill.
We then find out that by using the leftover electroshock equipment from the asylum he is able to raise the dead bodies of his victims. These newly-minted zombies then proceed to kill more soldiers to create….a Zombie Army! The human soldiers must fight their undead counterparts, and when the all-male platoon keeps getting themselves killed, the all-female platoon has to step in and kick some zombie ass.
So as a zombie-fan (or a general B-Movie horror fan) what are you getting here? Not much I’m afraid. The script is crap, the acting is crap, and, guess what, the directing is crap too. But what Zombie Army does have is awesome low-budget make-up and effects. Hot damn these zombies look good. The prosthetics are cool and there are even some nice pulsating wounds, also a nicely-done burnt face, a couple of exploding heads, and a handful of melted zombies. After reveling in the gore on screen you’ll probably be glad that what little budget there was got spent on special-effects…..as opposed to acting lessons.
It’s pretty sad that the majority of the special effects and make-up crew never did anything else (judging by IMDB), because it really is better than most of what you see currently. This is stuff you really miss in the direct-to-video market; imagination, ingenuity, and skill were required to make a no-budget flick twenty-five years ago. Now everyone has a computer and access to inexpensive film-making programs. (If I see any more digitalized blood splatter I might have to punch someone.)
the Zombie Army and its distributor, Outlaw Video, are part of the greater shot on video/straight to video classification of films that those of us who grew up in late ‘80s and early ‘90s fondly remember. An entire generation of horror fans was created by walking the aisles of video stores and renting the ones with the coolest covers and most enticing tag lines. All that was expected of these films was that they satisfied the prepubescent standard of entertainment: good gore, nudity, and maybe some stupid jokes. As long as these basic requirements were fulfilled, campiness, bad acting, and technical gaffs were all expected and forgiven. Sadly, this was a fairly short period of time. In the mid ‘90s filmmakers switched to digital cameras, and Blockbuster shut down every Mom and Pop rental store, leaving no room on the shelves for the latest Camp Video or Full Moon release. Netflix and other streaming services have at least made a new home for the low-budget/no-budget horror (that is now even cheaper to make); the only problem is that it seems a lot of the heart and soul of these VHS-era movies is gone.
So there you have it, you won’t be missing out by not watching this, but as many of these 90’s ‘direct to video films’ are now widely available online, and as long as you know what you are letting yourself in for, then you probably won’t be able to resist a quick peek.
Watch ‘The Zombie Army’ below:
Written by: Danielle Beauchea