Directed by: Aiden Belizare
Written By: Rebecca Claire-Evans, Jennifer Chippindale, George McClusky & Lisa Strobl
Starring: Edward Furlong, Corey Feldman, George McCluskey, David McClelland
UK DVD Release – 24th August 2015 from High Fliers Films
Zombie King is a low budget British horror-comedy, pitting unlikely heroes against hordes of the undead in an unnamed rural English town, with a couple of gleeful 80’s cameos; Edward Furlong, famous for playing John Connor in Terminator 2; and Corey Feldman, star of most of the cult movies from the decade. Cleverly opening right in the middle of the action, explanations and character building are saved for a bit later as the main trio are equally clueless about the horrors that are hunting them down, and about each other’s stories.
The trio is comprised of a milkman, a postman and a traffic warden, all hilariously remaining in full uniform for the duration of the movie. Instantly the tense chemistry of the three is brilliant, all three characters finding time to hurl insults at each other whilst hiding from and fighting off the zombies. The balance is carefully managed, with the comedy being genuinely funny, whether it’s slapstick visual gags or verbal abuse between the cast. But the comedy doesn’t overpower the horror elements either; it’s never white-knuckle terrifying but it never tries to be, still offering up plenty of tense moments and plenty of scares.
They soon meet more survivors, and the troupe grows to become quite large but the majority of the cast do a great job, and are all given their own moments to shine; some as comic relief, but others with some real stories to tell about the events. Either way, no one feels like unnecessary zombie-fodder so it’s a real surprise to see which characters are inevitably chomped. All this is interspersed with brief glimpses of Furlong’s side-plot; a melodramatic but genuinely affecting sequence that obviously becomes relevant as the movie progresses.
Many films suffer from a half-way slump and this is no exception; midway through the plot everything slows down almost to a halt, and it seems a bit unsure where it’s going but it picks up again soon enough for a great finale featuring a delightfully eccentric performance from Feldman as the malevolent Voodoo god Kalfu.
Visually this film doesn’t reflect its low budget – shot very nicely in various locations showing off the English Countryside, much of the gore is obscured or just out of shot. These moments don’t stick out though, it feels more a stylistic choice than a disappointing restriction. That isn’t to say there’s no gore though! When we do see any however it’s visceral and gruesome, not at all cheesy or comical.
The zombie genre has become incredibly saturated, and while this film doesn’t necessarily offer anything new to the scene I can’t think of many recent entries that manage so well in simultaneously balancing emotional and tense survival horror with laugh-out-loud comedy. Not even switching scene-by-scene, the tone can shift in the blink of an eye making it a surprisingly unpredictable movie, and a very enjoyable, involving one. Being a British Zom-Com there is one obvious comparison that people will make – the two films have many more differences but with so many dark edges this film is like a much grittier version of Shaun of the Dead. Well worth a look.