At the start of Ulli Lommel’s Zombie Nation, bad cop Joe Singer arrests a woman for putting on lipstick while driving, then takes her to a loft above a furniture warehouse. He emerges some time later dragging a suspiciously body-sized bag which he puts into his car’s boot. What’s odd about this is that he has a young partner with him, who waits outside and seems to completely accept Singer’s explanation that he let the girl go.
The above scene (which happens again the following day) more or less sums up the level of believability you get in Zombie Nation.
Officer Singer seems to easily be able to get away with killing a woman a day for some tiny infringement, and while there are those in his precinct who know that something is going on, they seem happy to write it off as an eccentricity.
Eventually the young partner, having been shouted down by his immediate superior, does summon up the courage to report the multiple homicides to Internal Affairs, but they allow Singer to continue in his job whilst carrying out their ‘investigation’.
The fact is that, for the sake of the film’s plot, Singer needs to act with impunity. So all realism has been thrown out the window to satisfy the main narrative. That narrative involves a group of voodoo priestesses bringing the murdered girls back from the dead as sexy, panda-eyed zombies to exact revenge. Why the priestesses do this is not really clear, they have no backstory or personality, they are one more element only there to force the plot to work. Irritatingly, before finding Singer the zombie girls kill a couple of men who are not only completely innocent but in fact offer to help them, undercutting whatever limited sense the story made.
All of this stuff is bad; the acting is poor, the camerawork is slick but flat, the dialogue is as believable as the plot and the fight scenes are staged incredibly poorly. But that is all nothing compared to how stunningly misogynistic this film is. Obviously Singer’s treatment of women makes him the bad guy (although some flashbacks to a bizarre and traumatic childhood do try to justify his actions and make him a victim), but that treatment is still leeringly observed by Lommel’s camera. Singer gropes one girl’s bare breasts before exposing her backside, and more than one of the girls try to buy him off with sex, bragging about how ‘easy’ they are.
If the sexism was limited to Singer then it might be understandable, but it infiltrates the whole movie. The voodoo ritual involves a tarantula crawling up between a girl’s thighs and so on (I’m not going to say it). The spider is then followed by a large snake. The zombie girls are all dressed in tight revealing clothing and are so un-zombie-like that a pair of sunglasses hides the fact they are dead. There is no rotting flesh or ugly wounds, nothing that might spoil the ‘view’. Even the morality of the girl’s revenge (which is pretty gruesome) is tainted by the other people they kill; so these innocent victims are portrayed as being in the wrong. But nothing prepares you for the ‘twist’ ending. After the unpleasantness of the misogyny that has gone before, the simple, down to earth sexism of the final scenes is almost comic, and yet it’s that that leaves the worst tastes in the mouth.
Some bad movies can be a lot of fun, but that is not the case here. The low cost, and the technical sophistication of consumer HD cameras has provided the inspiration for many budding film-makers to take up their cameras and bring their visions to life. The low cost of entry to film-making has been a revelation for artists and consumers alike – but the flip side is that you get trash like this coming out.
This is a truly exploitative exploitation film and a very unpleasant one, there is nothing really good to say about Zombie Nation. However much it paints itself as a revenge thriller, on the side of the murdered girls, its true sympathies always seem to lie with the ‘tortured’ Officer Singer, who can’t help his desire to kill these deliberately provocative women. One to be avoided at all costs.
Watch the trailer for Zombie Nation:
Watch the full movie (has Portuguese subtitles)
|Zombie Nation at Amazon|
|Zombie Nation at iTunes|
Written by: Robin Bailes.