Them Damn Zombies (2002)
By: Craig Villinger  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Analog Man can not live on DVD and Blu-ray alone. In this ongoing column we blow the dust off our VCR's and travel back to an ancient time where VHS tapes ruled the earth. Our mission? To re-discover those forgotten gems that are yet to receive the digitally enhanced 7.1 channel surround sound treatment...

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Director: Andy Koontz
Starring: Chris Koontz, Amy Renner, Reagan Walters, Doug Stanley, Amie Corbin, Mike VanYserloo, Randy Bowden, Kevin Phillips, Scott Phillips
Screenplay: Andy Koontz
Country: USA
These days, it seems as though anyone can go out there and make themselves a movie with just a video camera, a few family members and friends, something closely resembling a script, and some leftover trimmings from the local butcher shop. Some of these movies are good, some are average, and some (ok, more than some) are just plain shit. A lot of these movies seem to be horror movies, and a lot of these horror movies seem to feature zombies. Why is that exactly? Is it because zombies are easier to create than CGI ghosts or werewolves, or is it just because we as an audience seem to enjoy just about anything that features the undead?   Whatever the reasons, this latest trend in "do it yourself" movie making has at least given us a suitable alternative to movies from the likes of Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts that seem to be playing on multiplex cinema screens twenty four hours a day, seven days a week for the edification of the masses. Sure, as previously mentioned, more than some of these movies are shit, however I am happy to say that Them Damn Zombies is not one of those movies.

The country town of Beaver Falls USA seems to be populated mainly by gun-toting rednecks with a penchant for heavy metal t-shirts. While strolling through the woods, one such redneck by the name of Cleatus stumbles upon a group of strange individuals who are in the process of devouring his beloved dog Sam. Not content with their canine feast however, the group then turn on Cleatus himself, and thus, the zombie carnage begins. Beaver Falls is quickly over-run by the living dead, which leads a local news reporter and his cameraman to venture deep within the woods in search of the truth behind this zombie epidemic. With the help of local yokel Red Talbot, the trio make their way through the woods "Blair Witch" style, picking up a couple of female survivors and Red's own brothers along the way, before the group is forced to seek refuge from the zombie masses in a deserted shack until daybreak. Naturally things don't go as planned, and as their numbers quickly dwindle, the survivors decide that the only way they will get out out of this alive is to take on the zombies and make a break for freedom, or as they put it, to "kick some zombie ass!".

Them Damn Zombies is obviously the work of people who love cheesy movies. So many shot on video efforts these days fall flat on their faces by trying to be far too serious, or get carried away with being so nasty that they forget what the words "fun" and "entertaining" mean. Thankfully, Them Dam Zombies doesn't seem to take itself seriously for one minute, and delivers us some fantastic (and often amusing) zombie cheese from start to finish. The redneck characters are hilarious, and their dialogue produced some genuine belly laughs from yours truly, and while the actors weren't exactly "talented", they knew exactly what kind of film they were making and hammed it up to such an extent that you have to admire them. The zombie make-up is cheap, however the gore effects are surprisingly decent for such a low budget film, and director Andy Koontz gives us plenty of splatter with stomach ripping, decapitations and limb chomping aplenty. Kudos must also go to director of photography Scott Phillips who actually knows how to light the films night scenes, which is something that many other low budget filmmakers seem to overlook (don't you just love looking at those black screens, wondering what it is that you are supposed to be seeing?). My only gripe with Them Damn Zombies was its running time. Clocking in at around thirty minutes, it was just too damn short. Personally, I would have loved seeing more redneck action and babes kicking zombie butt!

If you want high production values, big budget digital effects shots, romantic sub plots, and a full orchestral soundtrack, then go back to your local multiplex. There is probably a Cruise or Roberts picture playing right now. If however you want fun, laughter, women in tight denim shorts, gore galore, and a strong parmesan stench, then Them Damn Zombies is just the ticket. How could you not love a film that is set in a town called "Beaver Falls"?

As an added bonus (and perhaps to compensate for the main features short running time) the tape also includes Zombie Dawn, a five minute short film from Andy Koontz and Scott Phillips that plays like a Dawn of the Dead style heavy metal music video about a bunch of special forces types who storm a zombie infested house on a desperate rescue mission. Despite the short running time, Zombie Dawn manages to cram in more gunfire and gore than most Hollywood epics and features a zombie dog that makes the pooches from Resident Evil look like "Lassie" wannabes. I'd love to see this one expanded into a feature film some day!

I'd definitely recommend Them Damn Zombies as a great way to kick off a night of cheesy zombie entertainment. Grab the popcorn, crack open a few cans, and enjoy the mayhem. Follow it up with something like Hell of the Living Dead or Burial Ground. I know you want to..
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