By Steve Anderson | January 4, 2007

Trading spaces in the land of the dead comes to us in “Zombies By Design”, a good idea hampered by poor execution.

This time around, it’s an incredible longshot combination: a housewife on the outs with her husband signs on for a home makeover reality show–you know, like “Trading Spaces”?–in a last-ditch effort to rebuild the dying marriage. Meanwhile, at about the same time, her husband has his own plans for the broadcast, involving a horde of mind-controlled zombies.

You know, maybe that’s why their marriage is doing so badly. Different goals. Wifey wants to keep a nice and stylish house, hubby wants to conquer the planet via a horde of bloodthirsty, brainhungry zombies…not exactly compatible! But “Zombies By Design” manages to be a pretty effective parody of all those design shows–I’m pretty sure at least some production person is getting hammered behind the scenes to work with some of these godawful personalities, and I’ll lay even odds that some of these people wanted to shoot these hosts in the throat at some point. Watching the host and the designer’s relations degenerate into a battle of repetitive insults isn’t all that much fun either. I counted “bitch” at least three times. And when one of the carpenters reaches the incredible conclusion that one of the walls is fake–a conclusion that the audience had reached almost fifteen minutes prior–it was a pretty fair sized insult.

Okay, so it’s low-budget-spectacular. It’s as though the production crew looked at each other and said, okay, we can’t afford professional actors, or professional set design, or professional CG effects, or a script without gaping plot holes, so let’s just string together whatever we can get our hands on at to make a movie. And yet, despite its failings, “Zombies By Design” manages to be at least a somewhat effective parody.

It’s an excellent idea, poorly executed. And yet, even in the face of a rather amateurish execution, it has some high points. One, the utter originality of zombies holding doors shut. In all my time of zombie movies, I’ve yet to see Romero-physics zombies work together to hold people in a location. One of the benefits of mind control, I guess. And about midway through, when two young girls are flipping through the channels on their TV and come across the zombie-packed design show, their resulting sudden interest in interior design is priceless.

The ending features some halfway decent innovation and some pretty cheesy effects. Oh, and a plot twist so incredibly convenient that I’m insulted just watching it.

All in all, not a half bad effort from Wascavage and crew–a great idea!–but poor execution hampers their work and prevents it from reaching full effectiveness.

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