Newest Reviews
Blank Check
Mad Monk, The
Wind, The
Holly and the Ivy, The
Now, Voyager
Wolf's Call, The
Nightingale, The
Eighth Grade
Irishman, The
Lords of Chaos
Operation Petticoat
Dead Don't Die, The
On the Waterfront
Last Faust, The
Art of Self-Defense, The
Beach Bum, The
Kill Ben Lyk
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
Little Monsters
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Newest Articles
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
  American Zombie We're here.  We're dead.  Get used to it.Buy this film here.
Year: 2008
Director: Grace Lee
Stars: Grace Lee, John Solomon, Austin Basis, Suzy Nakamura, Al Vicente, Jane Edith Wilson
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Documentary
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Indie filmmakers Grace Lee and John Solomon (both playing themselves) team up to shoot a documentary about dysfunctional zombie folk - or Revenants - struggling to find acceptance in Los Angeles. Their subjects include: undead slacker Ivan (Austin Basis) who prints his own fanzine - “American Zombie”; Judy (Suzy Nakamura), a perky but lovelorn customer service rep at a health food company; Joel (Al Vicente), zombie activist and founder of ZAG (“Zombie Advocacy Group”), whose slogan runs: “We’re here. We’re dead. Get used to it”; and Lisa (Jane Edith Wilson), an outwardly serene, but troubled artist. Documentarian Grace wants to get to know her subjects “on their own terms”, while horror fan John is eager to uncover their darker side. The crew get permission to shoot at a three-day, zombies only event called “Live Dead”, where they stumble across a sinister secret that suggests the Revenants aren’t as affable as they seem.

Early into American Zombie, Grace Lee rejects John Solomon’s suggestion they make the film and says: “I make documentaries. I don’t make monster movies.” Lee’s last movie, The Grace Lee Project (2006), won great acclaim for depicting the prejudices and misconceptions encountered by Asian-Americans and she tackles this unique combination of horror, black comedy and spoof documentary with similar intent. The zombies here are a minority group exploited like migrant workers, shunned by colleagues, abused by the living, and basically marginalised by society in general. Lee also pokes fun at trendy, liberal, media types as coffee house patrons flock to an exhibition by a zombie artist; and at well-meaning Christians (“Jesus was the original zombie!”). She seems to have struck a chord with California-based cultural hounds, who’ve heaped praise upon American Zombie as a sassy satire. However, as satire goes, it’s fairly parochial, unlikely to mean much to anyone outside L.A. Moreover, its wry humour is so low key it is often just plain unfunny, while the third act lurch into outright horror becomes unintentionally comic.

The interviewees are sketches rather than fully drawn characters and rather broadly played instead of naturalistic. Romantically frustrated Judy and affable activist Joel remain the most interesting, even when they turn shockingly nasty, but the subplot involving artist Lisa’s attempt to uncover her past remains frustratingly vague. It’s somewhat affecting how she remains unable to connect with either the living or undead, watching forlornly at Live Dead as Revenants ignore her work (“There is beautiful, life changing art happening here, if you would only pay attention” she weeps). Like several other zombie artists, Lisa produces mysterious spirals, a supposedly significant detail that Lee and co-screenwriter Rebecca Sonnenshine abruptly cast aside.

Elsewhere, portly, Jack Osbourne look-alike, Ivan proves a waste of screen time. A stock slacker character we’ve seen too many times before. He actually has a human girlfriend, self-styled “zombie groupie” Monique (Vanessa Peters), who remarks: “Zombies suck at the sex thing, but the foreplay is amazing.” Ivan proves incapable of fidelity or saying the words ‘I love you’ and is promptly dumped. It’s one of several instances of unrequited love that extend to Judy’s frustrated attempts to land “Mr. Right” and a human lawyer who proves unable to draw Joel’s eye. All of which suggests it’s more than prejudice that keeps these characters marginalised.

John Solomon proves the most interesting “character” on view, an indie horror geek who wears E.R. scrubs, likes being mistaken for a doctor, and clashes mildly with Lee over his desire to use storyboards. The latter third heads into Blair Witch Project territory, as Lee goes for the old “filmmakers are worse than flesh eaters” gambit, that was old hat (and highly dubious) when Ruggero Deodato tried it with Cannibal Holocaust (1979). John even repeats the “I’m sorry I got you into this…” speech from Blair Witch. The uncovering of a sinister conspiracy somewhat undermines the use of zombies as an allegory for repressed minorities, leaving us with a muddled curio. Not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 7755 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M


Last Updated: