Tuesday, November 3, 2015

ZOMBIE 5: KILLING BIRDS (1987)



Zombie 5: Killing Birds was never high up on my list of Must-See movies. I figured I’d give it a spin when I had nothing better to do, or had ingested one too many drinks. But then I found out that it was co-directed by Joe D’Amato (uncredited), and being a connoisseur of all things D’Amato, this flick went straight to the front of the line. I fired it up and was expecting a Grade-F piece of shit. I pretty much got that.
     But in the horror genre, a Grade-F piece of shit isn’t necessarily a bad thing…
     A Vietnam vet kills his cheating wife, her lover, and two people from the “Who the Fuck Are They?” department in the grand Italian style of No Fucks Given. He then gets his eyes scratched and pecked out by birds. Then, zip! Twenty years or so have passed. A group of college students, led by Steve (Tomothy W. Watts, a .99 cents store version of John Stamos) go off in search of the ivory-billed woodpecker. They bump into Dr. Fred Brown (Robert Vaughn, who is pretending to be blind); then wander through a montage which has the group playing harmonica, relaxing, boating, recording, picture taking, and general frolicking—all of which makes it feel like a very bad after-school special; then, the group wander into a creepy abandoned house, which makes it clear that spooky things are afoot. And then, some zombies show up (presumably the corpses of those killed earlier on) to wreak havoc.
     The key word in this movie is “presume.” No information is given and very little is explained. With very little to go on, the viewer is left scratching his head and thinking, “Just what in the hell is going on?” Granted, Italian horror films are not known for their cohesion or their offering up explainations, but Zombie 5: Killing Birds takes the cake. Imagine, if you will, being given pieces to a 1000 piece puzzle with none of the corner or side pieces, then being expected to put it together in 90 minutes. That is what watching this movie is like. Who would have thought that a low-budget Italian horror flick would require one to use their brain?

     And speaking of using brains, just who in the hell titled this damn thing? The film is not part of the Zombie series (having been released before Zombie 3 and Zombie 4: After Death pretty much negates that), nor is the damn thing about killer birds. From what I can gather, it was simply thrown into the Zombie franchise so some distributor could make a quick buck—YOU BASTARD! But then, looking at the original Italian release title of Raptors, one must presume that the filmmakers weren’t using their gray matter either! There are no fucking raptors, nor killer birds anywhere in this damn movie. And the zombies that show up halfway through the movie are not your traditional zombies in that they don’t eat the flesh of those they have killed; rather, they just kill. Nothing more. And watching this movie, one cannot help but get the feeling that the filmmakers wanted to make four different movies: a slasher flick, a zombie movie, a drama about looking for a near-extinct bird, and a haunted house movie. Seeing as they couldn’t seem to make up their mind, we are left with a schizophrenic film that is held together with little more than gaffer’s tape and hope.

     Acting-wise, Zombie 5 does not fare much better. Frankly, to even call what goes on here “acting” would be misleading: it is more like watching several different newscasters read from a teleprompter while moving around the screen. Lines are delivered so flatly it is as if they were run over by a steamroller. However, the worst acting bit comes from Robert Vaughn (who, given his status, one would expect a little more out of). At one point, Vaughn, .99 Stamos, and some girl, are in a dark study; the girl gestures to the window and says, “May I?” Vaughn responds: “Yes, you may.” How in the hell can he know what she is talking about if he is blind? FAIL!
     But of course we don’t come to horror movies to see the great acting: we come to see the kills and effects and blood! That is where the movie really gets laughable. Aside from a gouged out eye and a knife to the head, the make-up is pretty bad, the prosthetics are worse, and the kills are nothing to write home about (a zombie pounding a woman’s face into a wall repeatedly ranks as the best). There is one kill that, despite watching several times, confuses me: what exactly happened? Did she get her head partially ripped off? Did her throat get torn open?
     Then: Am I seriously trying to figure this out?
     So, where does that leave us? It leaves us with one seriously fun movie—Yes! I said it! Zombie 5: Killing Birds is, by virtue of its rampant ineptitude, a fun and funny movie. It is clear that the filmmakers had no clue what they were doing, and we should thank them for that because what they have left us with is a giant pile of steaming shit that is worth taking a big whiff of. If you love your movies poorly-made and stupid beyond measure (such as myself), then Zombie 5: Killing Birds is just what the doctor ordered. Watch it with some friends and have a blast.
You'd look like this too if you starred in Zombie 5: Killing Birds.

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