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  Voodoo Apocalypse Spirit of '79
Year: 2018
Director: Vasni Ramos
Stars: Sergio G. Ramos, Jose J. Ramallo, Jorge Galavan, Raquel Rial, Armando Buika, Victor Hubara, Carla Borico, Jose Luis de Madariaga, Ana Molowny, Vincenzo Scala, Tommaso Ferrari, Conrado Flores, Juan Tee, Tana Gonzalez, Bogdana Kondrashina
Genre: Horror, Comedy, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1979, and Los Angeles cop White Chocolate (Sergio G. Ramos) has arrived in this Mexican smalltown, on top of the local taxi (a horse), to investigate the murder of his partner. When he enters the nearby bar, the barman is less than friendly, as are the customers, to the extent that as the band begins to play a raucous number they all round on him and a huge brawl ensues which only ends when White Chocolate gets the upper hand. The man he is looking for is Charlie Vargas (Jose J. Ramallo), who it turns out has become employed as a masked wrestler - currently grappling with a female participant dressed as a massive bride...

They do say, those cultural commentators, that Quentin Tarantino became the cult director to emulate from the mid-nineteen-nineties onwards, and so it was we got loads of foul-mouthed, monologuing, pop culture-referencing, violent thrillers and hangout crime dramas ever since Reservoir Dogs made it look so easy. And there are a few minutes at the beginning of Voodoo Apocalypse where you think we were in Tarantino territory for the umpteenth time, specifically the deliberately worn out, retro-chic Tarantino of the Grindhouse experiment. But there was more than one director involved in that particular financial disappointment.

Yes, there were those talents who created the trailers, which in some ways were the best part of the entire enterprise, but there was also the first, non-Quentin half of Grindhouse, devised by Robert Rodriguez, who arguably took the bull by the horns and delivered far more of that trashy drive-in quality than his cohort ever did. Thus, perhaps not surprisingly given the Spanish language derivation, this effort owed much to the Rodriguez school of low budget innovation and making the most of your resources to get the optimum entertainment value out of the relatively meagre funds available to you. Also, director Vasni Ramos made it a comedy.

A very broad comedy, with not so much specific references as a general vibe of what you might have expected at the typical drive-in of the late seventies, only presented with heavily Spanish accented English when it did not simply give in and have its cast speak their native tongue - there did not appear to be much rhyme or reason for this, it was a bit of a mystery what you were going to get from scene to scene. There was even some Cantonese in there, when the two heroes team up and learn kung fu with all the mysticism that comes with that, but we're getting ahead of ourselves: there are gangsters and zombies to reckon with before we reach that stage, the undead a sure sign that this was a twenty-first century spoof.

Indeed, the exploitation flicks of this era owed so much to the exploitation flicks of decades past that there was a certain "seen it all before" nature to many, no matter that some were emulating Edgar Wright's comedies - Hot Fuzz looked to be an influence on Ramos here. What could laughingly be called a plot skipped from one genre homage to another, sometimes cracking jokes the local Spanish audience would respond to, but mostly sustaining a tone of the utterly ridiculous, complete with thrown together, one step up from homemade visual effects added to give it that chintzy look. You imagine Rodriguez would have directed something like this had he started out in the twenty-tens, and it was pretty funny in places, though in too many others it was wearing to watch something this blithely shallow for over ninety minutes, not that more depth would have helped or been appropriate. Coming across as if it had been conceived as a joke in itself that somehow got released, its shaggy dog story (and hairdos) stylings were relayed with vigour. But weren't action training montages more eighties than seventies?

[Voodoo Apocalypse will be available on Digital Download from 9th November 2020 and can be bought at this link - CLICK HERE.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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