Reportedly Ireland’s first zombie film, 1993’s Zombie Genocide is part of the great tradition of dirt cheap zombie movies made by people with a camera, some red food dye and not much else. The most obvious comparison is Plaga Zombie, made 4 years later in Argentina with a similarly homemade style and similarly miniscule budget.
The plots of both films are essentially alike; friends trapped inside a house in a world suddenly turned zombie try to escape to safety. But while Plaga Zombie goes the route of no holds barred excess, Zombie Genocide has a narrower focus and a more sombre feel which suits its Irish roots.
That said there’s enough knowing humour to offset the low budget and suspend disbelief. My favourite moment is when one character, refusing to believe in this zombie apocalypse, talks about how dumb the suggestion is while standing next to a poster from Day of the Dead.
Story-wise the film intelligently does not try to make its characters potential saviours of the world; they’re just out to survive. Rather declaring all-out war on the zombie menace, the characters focus on little goals; we need to find the gun, we need to get out of the house, we need to get to the evacuation point (situated on Romero Avenue!). This technique moves the story on nicely, giving our heroes little victories along the way and keeping us engaged as we watch. It’s not really scary, its seldom tense, but it is watchable and engaging.
The filmmakers also have the good sense to increase the stakes when it looks like things are getting repetitive, introducing an imminent nuclear strike on the town so the characters are now working against the clock. There’s also an unexpected rug pull moment towards the end which genuinely took me by surprise.
The ending itself I have to say is the film’s weakest point. It’s just a bit pat, and just a bit obvious and, to be honest, not very satisfying. This is a shame because generally this is an entertaining little film. At 65 minutes long it packs in plenty of action, blood and character but without overstaying it’s welcome. Frankly there are any number of bigger budget films that could learn a thing or two from this.
Of course you do have to watch Zombie Genocide with an acceptance of its budgetary limitations. It’s not just the special effects and fight scenes (which are inevitably a bit limp) it’s the fact that, almost unbelievably, the film was edited in camera! Which means they basically shot what they needed, building the film one scene at a time on the videotape itself. It’s a high risk way of making a movie that allows for no mistakes at all but also one which creates a very genuine sense of urgency in the actors. It can also create a feeling of realism as characters talk over each other and stumble for words just as people do in real life. There are no big speeches or sweeping declarations.
The small group of guys who made Zombie Genocide seem to have made the decision that less is more and that’s a decision that more filmmakers should make, regardless of budget. It’s far from a perfect film and I guess there’s little here that genre fans won’t have seen done before and better, but from any point of view, Zombie Genocide is a reasonably enjoyable film, and when you take into account its limitations it is a tour de force!
Watch ‘Zombie Genocide’ below:
Written by: Robin Bailes