Saturday, April 03, 2010

Day Seven: Plaga Zombie - Zona Mutante (2001)

Day Seven brings us the Argentinian zombie-comedy, Plaga Zombie: Mutant Zone, or Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante in the original language). I'm really not sure why the American release only translates half of the title.

Oh well.

This is a sequel to 1997's Plaga Zombie, and if I had known that before sitting down to watch this one, I would have searched it out and made a double feature out of them. Only I'm not sure I would have been able to sit through both of them back-to-back if the first one is anything like this.

And after checking out the trailer to Plaga Zombie, it looks like it was. Only with a smaller budget.

So, this is probably the only one you have to worry about watching. If you worry about things like that.

I do. I'm mentally ill like that.

Our main characters are named John West (a western-themed wrestler), Bill Johnson (a med-student, kung-fu ass-kicker), and Max Giggs (computer nerd and completely insane). The actors playing Bill and Max, Pablo Parés and Hernán Sáez, wrote and directed both this film and the original. Berta Muñiz (John West) co-wrote the original with them.

That in itself makes this an impressive little piece of work, if you ask me, but maybe a little bittersweet as well. You see, these three guys have been working together since 1991, making short films, and released Plaga Zombie in 1997 to the joy of Argentinian gore fans. Until the sequel was released in 2001, Plaga Zombie's fans called it the best Argentinian gore film ever.

But for reasons unknown to me (I'm really just too lazy to look into it at the moment), they stopped working together after Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante.

Anyway, back to the review.

If you like your zombie horror with a healthy dose of slapstick comedy, then this is the one for you. It's gory as it can get, with cheesy effects that bring films like Evil Dead II (with a smaller budget) to mind. And that's definitely the mark they're shooting for. There's very little serious in this one, making it a welcome breath of fresh air after The Zombie Diaries.

Apparently, in the first film we discovered that an alien race had made a deal with the American Government to sample a strange alien virus on an isolated test community. As you could probably guess, this virus turned the infected into zombie mutants and the disease quickly spread, overrunning the entire city. Our heroes, John, Bill, and Max barely escaped with their lives.

Unfortunately, they were then captured by the FBI and, as this film opens, are dumped back into the city as it is closed off and scheduled to be destroyed. We can't have any surviving witnesses after all.

What follows is a pretty entertaining splatterstick romp as the boys try to survive long enough to decode a government map showing the only way out of town, before everyone is killed. There are a few very nice twists and turns, and the zombie attacks are always fun (even if most of the zombies are just running around, not really attacking anyone) and gory.

Any film gets bonus points from me when one of the heroes twists off someone's arm and uses it as a weapon. The same with pulling out spines or carrying around lengths of intestine to use as rope when needed.

Plus, we even get a little character development, sort-of. I mentioned that Max went crazy, right? Well, when the boys discover another survivor named Max, who also wants to be best friends with John West, will crazy-Max's jealousy tear the boys apart? Or just the new-Max?

Sure, it's all pretty silly. But at least it's intentionally silly. That counts for something.

It's stuff like that that pushed this film a little higher than three stars, but not quite into the four star range. So, on a free scale, this would get 3.5 stars from me. On Netflix's scale it gets 3.


  1. "Max Giggs" the computer geek? Really?

  2. Oh yeah. It's remarkably silly. But it grows on you.

    Or it did me, anyway.