What with the proliferation of zombie flicks of every stripe — from the traditional canonical storytelling of The Walking Dead to the more risque Zombie Strippers — you would be forgiven for thinking that the genre was entirely played out by this point. With his off-the-wall, insane mash-up of a film, Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight, first-time feature director Director Alan Lo destroys this supposition with the glee of an overactive, twitchy tween who has been let loose with a film crew and a modest budget. Blending influences including anime, gore-hound horror, wushu martial arts films, and even the Angry birds video-games, Hong Kong-based Lo has crafted a joyride of a picture that is one hell of a fun night at the movies.
Focusing on the not so dynamic duo of Lung (starring Michael Ning) and Chi-Yeung (Louis Cheung), the film kicks off with an inspired anime sequence of these two wayward millennials adopting their superhero alter egos to vanquish a host of imagined foes. While their inner lives may be rich, their realities are far more mundane as both young men work at a local arcade, clad in gawdawful yet adorable panda suits. They also live together with Chi-Yeung’s mother/Lung’s aunt — a beautiful one-time opera star who was badly injured in an accident inadvertently caused by Lung’s father (Alex Man) who makes a pivotal reappearance after his release from prison. Also thrown into this motley crew are Chan-Yat, Chi-Yeung’s would-be girlfriend and some kind of a deep-ops government warrior or something.
“…all is not well in Hong Kong. A gigantic, deformed chicken with mismatched eyes and a square head has descended upon the metropolis.”
But I digress, for all is not well in Hong Kong. A gigantic, deformed chicken with mismatched eyes and a square head has descended upon the metropolis. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, this fowl has the ability to (1) turn unfortunate victims into flesh-eating zombies and (2) lay grenade-like eggs which surgically strike victims in the noggin, effectively sizzling their skulls to the bones.
As the more and more of the local citizenry join living dead/have their heads destroyed, Lung and Chi-Yeung — much like their cinematic spirit animals Shaun and Ed in Shaun of the Dead — realize that it’s time to put away childish things and get down to some to some good ole zombie killing. Along the way they rescue/recruit a traumatized bride/martial arts star (Venus Wong), still clad in her wedding dress, to join the fight.
In its manically paced hour and 45 minutes, family bonds are challenged and reconciled, rescued victims are found to be infected, sorta-maybe magical weapons are employee self-sacrifices are made, and heads explode with wild abandon. And, like a deranged feathered Terminator, the evil chicken lurks around every corner.
“…a goddamn riot, dispensing humor at the worst/best possible moments.”
Amazingly, the film actually makes a fair bit of sense given the unbridled madness unleashed on-screen. And the characters have more depth that one might expect in a low-budget-Hong-Kong-zombie-evil-chicken flick. The filmmaker must also be an acolyte of Stephen Chow of Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer fame because the movie is a goddamn riot, dispensing humor at the worst/best possible moments. Furthermore, the final fight scene — which again incorporated in some dynamically charged anime — has surprising depth and resonance…and gore. Plenty of gore.
All I can say is that I cannot wait to see what Alan Lo cooks up next. An obviously talented filmmaker, it’s exciting (and perhaps a little frightening) to imagine what he’d do with either a large-scale budget or as a director on a full-fledged Hollywood film. Part of me, though, hopes he morphs in Hong Kong’s own version of Lloyd Kaufman — continuing to mine his fertile (and rather fucked-up) imagination to create more movies about zombies, enraged domestic animals, or even toxic anti-heroes who get the girl in the end.
Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight (2018) Directed by Alan Lo. Written by Nick Cheuk and Nero Ng. Starring Michael Ning, Louis Cheung, Cherry Ngan, Venus Wong, and Alex Man.
9 out of 10 stars