As The Zombies Are Coming to Town! opens, two children unknowingly unleash a toxic cloud on a neighboring park, turning some picnic revelers into zombies. The scene then moves to a cemetery, where a group of friends are the next victims of the sudden zombie apocalypse. Brenda (Liz Laplante) escapes the attack and is saved by Moose (Jonathan Oliver), a hunter who rescues her and drives her to a cabin in the woods where he and his wilderness survival / hunting buddies are prepared for some drinking and hunting. Now with a zombie apocalypse to contend with, the hunters prepare… only for the film to reveal that everything we’ve seen up until this point is a film-within-a-film, with Brenda, the hunters and zombies all actors. Or so it seems, as that evening the real zombie apocalypse breaks out.
The Zombies Are Coming to Town! is a difficult film to review because the films it is trying to emulate are not necessarily all that good to begin with. In other words, if this one does its job well, it’s not going to be all that good either. But unlike many bad films, this isn’t a film where the filmmakers tried to make a good film but failed, this is more like trying to make a bad one and succeeding. The question then becomes, is it bad enough to engender the same good feelings that the B-movie schlockfests inspire, or is it just a bad movie period?
For me, it’s just a bad movie. I get what they were going for, and I think that most of the nostalgic work was done for them just by utilizing the right film stock. After that, though, it’s just not all that entertaining. I will give it credit for mixing up the narrative a bit by having a zombie apocalypse break out while a film crew tries to shoot a zombie apocalypse movie, but it’s an idea that sounds way better in theory than it was executed here. The gore and make-up isn’t all that bad either, except when it is making a point of showing that it’s bad, though the amount of zombie make-up rampant in films and TV nowadays means the bar is a lot higher now than it used to be.
Again, though, so many of the grindhouse flicks were just awful too, so most of my technical criticisms are similar. For example, scenes shift from daylight to nighttime suddenly, the acting is awful, way too much b-roll of imagery of very little interest is used and the handheld work in the second half of the film is almost motion-sickness inducing. The problem is that it doesn’t feel like a film that’s trying hard and failing, so it feels too aware of itself. This isn’t a case of not “getting it,” this is a case of not liking it. Save for a few inspired moments of dialogue here and there, the film is missing that little bit of fun that seemed to inherently exist in the movies it’s trying to ape.
But perhaps that’s the rub in trying to make a film that’s as “good-bad” as the earlier films, when they weren’t necessarily setting out to make bad movies themselves. Perhaps if The Zombies Are Coming to Town! had stuck with the aesthetics as a framework and tried to make something really good, it might have achieved similar status. Or maybe it’s just not for me.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.