Gruesome Reviews

“Zoombies” (2016): When Bad CGI Attacks!

I’m not gonna mince words here and just say I pretty much despise most everything that The Asylum produces, but I understand their appeal. The people at The Asylum produce ultra low budgeted films that generally ape big budget releases, and are released a few weeks before to piggyback on the popularity of whatever film they’re trying to pretend to be. There are far too many examples of their chicanery to list here, but if you’re a horror/sci-fi film fan then you know all about The Asylum and their product. The latest film to roll off of the Asylum assembly line is called Zoombies, and it’s their take on Jurassic World, but instead of dinosaurs on the rampage – it’s ordinary zoo animals that have humanity in their sights. But here’s the kicker, I freaking LOVED every second of this movie! It’s so much fun that I began to think about a better poster image for it. One that suited it, like the ones from the 60’s/70’s where there’d be bullet points on the poster telling the audience what they had to look forward to… zo3 SEE THE FILM THAT WANTS TO APE JURASSIC WORLD ON 1/1,000,000th OF THE BUDGET! Dr. Helen Rogers (Kim Nielsen) is in charge of an amazing new zoo known as Eden (where the animals run free), and as the film begins she’s welcoming some new trainees to help out around the park before its grand opening. The park was her late grandfather’s dream, and she really wants things to go off without a hitch. She’s also hoping to get a big grant from the government to help out with the cost of running the zoo. But there’s trouble afoot, because Dr. Gordon (Noa Pharoah) has discovered that one of the spider monkeys has contracted a virus that turns it into a violent predator that attacks everything it sees. What’s worse is that while humans are immune to the virus, all animals are susceptible to it and once the infected monkeys escape the laboratory – all of the zoo animals are in danger of getting bitten and infected with the virus. Which means that the humans working in the park are in a heck of a lot of trouble. zoombies-2   SEE THE TERRIBLE CGI TRY TO MAKE BADLY RENDERED ZOO ANIMALS LOOK THREATENING! OK, I might be being a bit harsh here. Generally films from The Asylum have CGI that hovers somewhere between Sega Dreamcast and Sony Playstation graphics. I think it’s fair to say that while the CGI here is still pretty atrocious, it’s a mite better than usual. More Playstation 2 than Playstation, and the spider monkeys look pretty realistic when they’re not moving too much. But the other animals look pretty damned hysterical. We get to see rampaging giraffes, lions and elephants that are so poorly animated that they seem to be walking on air rather than on the ground. Which leads me to… zo7 SEE A MAN TORN IN TWO BY RAMPAGING GIRAFFES ON A DEATH HUNT! Yeeah, you read that right. In one of the most ridiculous scenes I’ve ever seen in any movie, the group is attacked by giraffes on the rampage. One of them gets plucked off of a tree by a really pissed off giraffe, then another one grabs the poor sap by his other arm and the two giraffes basically play wishbone with him. Trust me people, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen two poorly rendered CGI giraffes tear a man in half. But aside from the monkeys, all of the animals look really crappy. There’s also a gorilla named Kifo that can communicate with humans (Dr. Rogers has a young daughter that loves to talk with Kifo from the other side of his cage), and the film uses both a man in suit and CGI FX to portray the gorilla. Unfortunately, the suit they use looks like one they got off the rack at Party City (with a face that has absolutely no points of movement on it), and the hair pattern on the face doesn’t match the pattern on the CGI face all of the time either. We’re also treated to the sight of a infected koala bear that’s been torn in half by Dr. Rogers daughter Thea (La La Nestor)! You read that correctly folks, what looks to be a 10 yr. old girl gets attacked by a koala bear (that cannily pretends to be one of her stuffed animals), and tears the little fucker in half. Sadly, we don’t see the kid perform the act, but we see the aftermath. And the aftermath is pretty damned gory! But as great as that scene is, Dr. Gordon’s death scene takes home the “Best Death” trophy here as he dies when one of the spider monkeys emerges from his body in a bloody rage! Exactly how it got inside Doc Gordon’s body is a mystery, but the mind reels at the possibilities. The animal attacks are all pretty gory here but the preponderance of CGI blood really makes these scenes look really cheap. zoombies-4   SEE ACTORS PRETEND TO BE FIRING GUNS AS THEY STRUGGLE NOT TO CRACK UP AS THEY DELIVER THEIR LINES! In actuality, the performances here are pretty decent all the way around. But when watching any film from The Asylum one tends to become entranced with the FX (& how awful they are) rather than the actors. But I watched this fucker three times in two days, so I got familiar with the performances as well. Ione Butler is top billed here as Lizzy, who arrives at Eden for her first day of work as part of the security team, only to be thrust headfirst into a struggle for her life. She does a pretty good job here and she generally commands the screen in all of her scenes. But all of the actors do the best they can to try and make the viewer believe that they’re in trouble, and I think they’re all worthy of praise. The head of security, appropriately named “Rex” (Marcus Andersen) goes through a whole lot of suffering throughout the film, and Andersen does a good job of keeping a straight face as he gets repeatedly injured by just about every animal he runs into (he even gets his leg crushed by an elephant stomp), but he keeps chugging along until the script (by Scotty Mullen) finally gives him a break and kills him off. The script is about as ridiculous as it sounds, but it delivers what it promises. Ridiculously so, but it works. Director Glenn Miller does a good job of keeping all of this nonsense moving along briskly, giving the viewer very few opportunities to catch their breath from laughing before the next ridiculously overwrought scene. zoombies-3   SEE THE FILM THE BLACK SAINT CALLS “THE MOST FUN HE’S HAD WATCHING A HORROR MOVIE SO FAR THIS YEAR!” Yup, you read that correctly. Zoombies isn’t gonna win any awards, but it isn’t trying to. What Zoombies wants to do is entertain you, and it succeeds wildly at that. Granted, a lot of what makes the film so much fun is how awful it all looks, but sometimes you have to look past all of that and enjoy a film for what it is. As I said earlier, I watched this three times over two days, and I enjoyed it more each time. It’s really the most fun I’ve had watching a horror movie so far this year, and I think I can watch it once a month for the rest of my life. Aside from The Manitou, I don’t think I’ve said that for any movie I’ve ever seen before. Should that mean anything to you? Probably not. But I really believe that Zoombies is a hell of a lot of fun, and I’m near positive that if you give it a try (maybe along with a few beers or other alcoholic beverages) you’ll have a blast watching it as well. I’ll go as far to say that as of right now, Zoombies is one of my favorite films of the year. Now do I expect it to be in my top 10 at the end of the year? I sure hope not, because that’ll mean 2016 was a really crappy year for genre films, but I’m not too worried about that right now. Just do yourselves a favor and give Zoombies a watch and have some poorly rendered CGI fun. Zoombies 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) zo1

The Black Saint
Santos Ellin Jr (AKA The Black Saint) has been watching films of dubious quality since time began, he has also watched a few horror films along the way as well. He has been writing for Horrornews.net for the last four years and was promoted to the position of Lead Theatrical Reviewer/Interviewer/PR last year. He makes so much money doing this that he needs do nothing else with his life but he was also asked to be a co-host of the Horror News Radio podcast last year as well. It’s been said (by a family member) that he is indeed the glue that holds the podcast together although his co-hosts might not agree. He thinks they are all jealous of him anyway.
The Black Saint
Santos Ellin Jr (AKA The Black Saint) has been watching films of dubious quality since time began, he has also watched a few horror films along the way as well. He has been writing for Horrornews.net for the last four years and was promoted to the position of Lead Theatrical Reviewer/Interviewer/PR last year. He makes so much money doing this that he needs do nothing else with his life but he was also asked to be a co-host of the Horror News Radio podcast last year as well. It’s been said (by a family member) that he is indeed the glue that holds the podcast together although his co-hosts might not agree. He thinks they are all jealous of him anyway.