Tall, Dark, and Dead – 3 – American Zombie
Title: American Zombie
Director: Grace Lee
Leads: Grace Lee, John Solomon
Favorite quote: “You have to live with this, Grace.”
Thoughts: A hilarious mockumentary about zombies and a depressing horror movie all in one! It’s a two-fer!
I really enjoyed American Zombie, especially because several of the zombies espoused views I’ve thought must come naturally to the coping living dead – the idea of “carpe diem,” denial, etc. All in all, this film is probably going to end up being one of my favorites for its sympathetic (to begin with) conceptualization of zombies. It’s as firmly based in “reality” as any zombie film I’ve ever seen, and takes place in a world which is comparable to Max Brooks’ universe. Romero’s films are held up as examples of zombie exploitation, for example.
Unfortunately, even as mockumentary Lee derides her staff for “essentializing zombies to their basic functions” by hounding her subjects with questions about cannibalism, the movie itself ends up doing just that. The zombies get nippy in the end. The conclusion comprises a nice little twist which neatly wraps up the entire thing up as a horror film, which saves it, but…oh, well.
While watching, I was struck by the fact that the zombies kept using the term “human” to describe the living. I’m still not sure if the use of this word was intentional or not. The rest of the film is incredibly well-made, with no snippet of foreshadowing left to go to waste, so I think it must be. Therefore, while this film comes closer than most to “giving zombies names,” as I like to put it, it still takes pains to keep them at a distance. It’s when the zombies start to deviate from the human agenda and assert themselves that the entire meta-narrative begins to break down. On the other hand, I really respect the fact that Lee lets her monsters be monsters.
She also gets ten points for the Dr. Steel poster. And I want a ZAG t-shirt. Now.