Rockabilly Zombie Weekend

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While young lovers Becky and Grant were getting their rockabilly wedding all set up, a new mosquito repellent was being sprayed over their hometown, one with the ability to zombify those that come in contact with it, and unfortunately for the about to be newlyweds, some of the people that inhaled this new poison also happen to be guests at their wedding.

I’ve previously mentioned that rockabilly and it’s angry younger sibling psychobilly are some of the underworld’s preferred musical choices; rockabilly being the easy listening music of the damned and psychobilly being a motivator when you just have to get something awful done, or work out, which is still pretty awful in its own right. What I’ve failed to add is that it is a terrible idea to play either of those around a member of the living dead unless you want to experience what it feels like to have human teeth rip out chunks of your flesh. It’s not that it makes us hungry, the smell of human flesh does that, it’s just so easy to lose yourself in the music that we forget there is a time and place to eat a person. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been at a party or show where rockabilly was being played, completely forgot myself, and ended up with three or four newly zombified friends. Now if you’re looking to join our ranks, that’s another matter. Considering the fact that when we’re in that state we aren’t so much eating as we are just getting a little bitey, you’ll come out the other side looking a lot better than some newbies. Come to think about it, you don’t even specifically need rockabilly, the blues would work as well, or SKA, probably punk too, pretty much any kind of music will do the trick. Hell, I think I bit someone during a Backstreet Boys’ song once, though that might have been more in anger than reverence. Probably not cool on my part, it’s not like every place is going to have the awesome sound present for Rockabilly Zombie Weekend.

Our film begins in the swamplands of Florida where an outbreak of West Nile is causing government officials to look at alternative poisons in order to deal with the hordes of mosquitos that are treating people like a 7-11 on Free Slurpee Day. Taking things like testing and product safety to be more a suggestion than a necessity, a new brand of mosquito repellent is sprayed over the area, one which has a very unfortunate side effect. Anyone who comes in contact with the chemical, or is bitten by the creatures said chemical was meant to kill, will turn into a flesh starved zombie. Not that anyone is yet aware of this, especially the soon to be married Becky and Grant. The pair of young lovers is set to be married by night’s end, and since they’re both heavily involved in the Florida rockabilly scene, they decide on a rockabilly style wedding with all their best friends and both the bride and groom’s mothers who have a strong distaste for one another. Though this parental rivalry is causing quite a bit of distress for our soon to be newlyweds, it’s about to be the least of their worries as some of the guests for this wedding have already been exposed to the repellent. To make matter worse, the mosquitos and other creepy crawlers have begun infecting those who avoided inhaling the fumes originally and a horde is beginning to build because of it, one headed straight for Florida’s most stylish wedding.

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{It might not end well}

I would imagine that it’s not all that difficult to tell that rockabilly is one of my favorite types of music. It relaxes me when I need to chill out, and it gets me going when I have things to do. Not to mention that, just like any musical style, rockabilly has the ability to elicit a hundred different emotions, but with a bit more style. I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t the clothes, the cars, and the scene in general that first drew me in, but it was most assuredly the music that kept me once I was there. You’d think that would have made me that much more excited to give this one a watch, but I usually go into any rockabilly themed horror film with more than a few jitters for the sole reason that it’s a rockabilly themed horror film. I know that sounds weird, but when a lot of filmmakers use a musical theme to cover up what a terrible movie they’re making, you eventually begin to think the worst, and when it comes to rockabilly, most filmmakers don’t go beyond throwing in a muscle car or two and adding some Reverend Horton Heat, so not only are you getting a terrible movie, but it won’t even have a good rockabilly feel to it. This isn’t the case with Rockabilly Zombie Weekend. Not only are you getting the cars, the style, and a good sampling of the music that comes with rockabilly, you’re also getting a good zombie flick.

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{At 17, there might possibly have been some other motivating factors for me being drawn to the rockabilly scene}

Rockabilly Zombie Weekend isn’t just a zombie film though, it’s also a love story, a very odd love story involving the living dead, zombie creating creepy crawlies, and a lot of torn up human bodies, but a love story nonetheless. If you’ve been reading my reviews for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed I’m a bit of a sucker for good love stories that don’t let the romance get in the way of the horror. Thankfully writer Tammy Bennett and director Jaime Velez Soto handle the film’s romantic side with finesse. The heart of the story is the love shared between leads Becky and Grant, the soon to be newlyweds who have their wedding ruined quicker than you can say open bar. The film drops a few hints that the relationship between the two has been one full of hardships they had to overcome before they got to the point of wanting to join their lives together, not to mention the turbulent upbringing they most likely had to endure. By just including hints about their past instead of spending too much time focused on the details, the film is better able to focus on the main reason any viewer is sitting down to watch this, the fight against the living dead, while still being able to enjoy the romantic aspects of the film. It also helps that the movie avoids getting too touchy-feely or sappy with the love story side, that’s not to say that it avoids any sense of tenderness because there are some very touching moments between our young lovers, just that the romance is kept to scenes where it makes sense instead of popping up so often that the horror becomes lost. They kept a very good balance between the two throughout the film so that the horror definitely dominated the movie’s feel with the romance simply adding to the story.

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{True love is never having to slay alone}

It’s not just the good genre balance that makes Rockabilly Zombie Weekend so enjoyable, it’s also a blend of the well written characters, talented actors, and great FX team. Becky and Grant are not only very believable as two people who greatly care for one another thanks to the chemistry between actors Christina Bach and Daniel Baldock, but every character we come in contact with did their job well whether that job was to add some fun, pull at our heartstrings, or make us hate them. I was impressed with how well the actors handled their characters all around, and this includes the actors portraying our zombies. The undead in Rockabilly Zombie Weekend are very reminiscent of the zombies in the original Night of the Living Dead, something that I’m going to go out a limb and guess was intended. Why? Because the camera shots and some of the scenes were very reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead as well, making me wonder if it wasn’t in homage to the granddaddy of all zombie flicks. The makeup for the undead isn’t extreme for the most part, but it does look good. This goes for the gore as well with even the goriest of scenes still looking fantastic. Best of all, everything is done with practical effects instead of having to resort to awful looking CGI.

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{What’s your excuse Asylum?}

While I wish I could say this was a film for which I had no complaints, there were two things that bugged me. One was the way in which the zombifying spray worked or didn’t work depending on the person. Beyond it turning people into zombies, nothing else is known about the spray, but it does seem to work wildly different from person to person. Some turn within minutes, others within hours, and one who inhales the repellent early on in the film never turns at all. The other complaint again has to do with the mosquito repellent. It’s supposed to make all the mosquitos carriers for whatever turns people into zombies which should have basically meant that every person with a certain radius would never be able to avoid being zombified. Now maybe Florida isn’t as bad as the Midwest when it comes to mosquitos despite what I’ve been told, but when it gets bad enough here that people start considering spraying the area, it’s because there are clouds of the things and even walking to your mailbox is likely to end in at least a couple of bites. Zombifying mosquitos should be the complete end to all things living.

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{The end of humanity}

My problems with the repellent aside, Rockabilly Zombie Weekend was a very fun, enjoyable flick that I’ll most likely be watching again. The zombies were great, the characters were great, and the music was stupendous. There was a bit of a missed opportunity with that last part in that some of the action scenes were begging for a rockabilly soundtrack that always disappeared at those moments, but I can overlook this minor complaint due in large part to the inclusion of so many other great songs. I just wish I could find more music from the band used for Becky and Grant’s wedding, Killer Moonshine. If anyone comes across more of their music, please let this old zombie know.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Jamie Velez Soto (The Whisper Home, Game On!)

Starring: Christina Bach (Cassadaga, 2-Headed Shark Attack), Daniel Baldock (Finding Eden, Amber in the Shadows, Game On!), Michelle Elise Shock (The Real Ghoulwives of Los Angeles, Shadowglade), and J. Benedict Larmore (Haima, 365 Decision Time)

Written By: Tammy Bennet

Released By: Abyssmal Entertainment, Rockabilly Zombie, and Green Apple Entertainment

Release Year: 2013

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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