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Wasting Away (Aaah! Zombies!!)
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by Adrian Starland

"Zombies are People too!"
4 stars

Take the classic “walking dead” movie motif and turn it on its head by looking at the issue of zombie infection from the perspective of said zombies.... What might that look like?

Some “classics” (many worthy of “cult” status), particularly in our more “contemporary” times, frequently seem to have a nasty and unfortunate habit of slipping underneath the radar scope. Not at all surprising, considering the fact that cliché-riddled recycled Hollywood pap routinely takes precedence over genuinely original, challenging, sophisticated and/or “daring” productions in the greater pursuit of the quick & easy buck, rather than the promotion of original creative/artistic expression. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make money on your investment, Tinsel Town is just so overly driven by the urge to make money that they'll often not venture outside of the box in the “creativity/originality” department, choosing instead to “play it safe,” even if it means rehashing the same old tired ideas or piggybacking on someone else's successful idea... or in refusing to “take a chance” on brilliant new, or at-least promising, talent.

This is exactly what I was reminded of just a mere couple of hours ago (as of this original typing) after viewing the “living dead” comedy flick, “Aaah! Zombies!!” -- another of the many creative and original films which has somehow managed to slip general notice to fade silently into the background of almost virtual obscurity.

For those who are aware of this movie, there seems to be a tendency to hold it up against another more popular and more heavily marketed “zombie comedy” movie, “Shawn of the Dead.” But given how it is that I'm still apparently the only person left in existence who has not yet seen the latter film (and who in all honesty has no desire to), there is no way for me to know whether such comparisons or face-offs are fair or reasonable, so let's digress.

“Aaah! Zombies!!”-- alternately known as “Wasting Away” (why? I'dunno) --revolves around a group of four friends in a bowling alley who become unwitting test subjects, due to a cruel twist of fate, involving a chemical substance which accidentally contaminates a night shipment of 'soft-serv' ice cream base (once you first see it as presented, just imagine that a pop-up alert has appeared on your computer screen saying: “install 'Suspension of Disbelief' -- continue?” ...click “Ignore” if you insist on nit-picking, otherwise, click “OK” and proceed). Once ingested as part of an experimental concoction conceived by the group's (very) amateur food-scientist, the group passes out, and upon reawakening they notice that the world has changed radically: people all around them appear to have become “accelerated” as if amped-up on some bad crystal meth on steroids.

But not only are people everywhere-- with select exceptions --seemingly stuck in hyper mode, but in this state they are also inexplicably fearful of and violent against the quartet... often resorting to the use of “deadly force.” And herein lies the other pickle -- not only are they the victims of senseless attack, but it would likewise seem that they are indestructible (at least from a “consciousness” standpoint, as their bodies do sustain plenty of serious damage throughout their ordeal).

A stranger, in the person of a soldier in a secret Army brigade, explains to the four that the substance they'd inadvertently consumed has transformed them into “super soldiers,” although it was originally a form of toxic waste the military had planned on dumping into the bay, but an accident involving the vehicle transporting the stuff to its destination caused the substance to spill out and infect the entire population. The soldier explains that they seem to have been spared the “negative” effects of the toxin due to what he believed was the “neutralizing effects” of dairy milk products, thus resulting in both immunity to the violent hyperactive condition infecting everyone else and endowing the four friends with their superhuman strength & endurance.

Of course, not all is as it seems (or as it has been explained to them), as they eventually find out, but even upon realization of the actual truth, their primary concerns become basic survival in what they've perceived as a world gone mad and to just simply be left alone and allowed to live their "lives" in peace & safety, thus flipping the genre upon its head yet again, turning the group into tragedy figures who seem deserving of our sympathies as well.

The manner in which the film's scenes were shot were also clever, causing us to question “whose” perspective constitutes the “true” version of “reality.”

Creative & insightful movies such as this would naturally cause one to reasonably think that "Hollow-wood" might take notice of how to be more original or to "give the people what they want" to some degree... but if George Lucas couldn't figure it out after the plethora of offerings produced by the "Star Wars Fan Film" community, then why would we expect other "luminaries" within the Hollywood establishment to give us anything else than dumbed-down & watered-down claptrap for no other reason than just to make bank?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=22562&reviewer=427
originally posted: 06/05/11 18:12:38
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USA
  16-Oct-2007 (NR)
  DVD: 19-Oct-2010

UK
  16-Oct-2009

Australia
  N/A




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