Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante: Revolución Tóxica (2011)

Three days after the zombie outbreak, Bill Johnson (Pablo Parés), John West (Berta Muñiz) and Max Giggs (Hernán Sáez) are being chased by a UFO which has locked onto a zombie being carried by John. That ship’s tractor beam pulls him into the ship and transforms him (Berta lost a ton of weight between the last movie and this one) all while the team comes up with a plan of turning a zombie into a bomb that will be dragged up into their ship.

Then, each of the group gets split up and has their own stories to deal with. John discovers he has lost his strength after being transformed and must deal with doubt. Bill seeks out renegade agent Jack Taylor (Walter Cornás) to discover how to find the alien mothership. Giggs finds a zombie to be his bomb, but he soon finds himself feeling like a father to the shambling dead thing he calls Junior (Paulo Soria).

In the years since the Plaga Zombie series started, CGI has become more affordable, which makes this movie look way better than the first two movies. Also: all zombie movies may not need a musical number, but seeing as how good the one here is, maybe they should.

You can watch this on Tubi or get the whole set from Severin.

Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante (2001)

Just minutes after the end of Plaga Zombie, the sequel lets us know that the Argentine government is working with the alien zombies in exchange for protection from the dreaded virus that has started to change the world.

Only Bill Johnson (Pablo Parés), John West (Berta Muñiz) and Max Giggs (Hernán Sáez) have survived the initial outbreak and they are to be released back into their overrun neighborhood. That is unless Agent James Dana (Esteban Podetti) and his death squad don’t kill them first.

If you follow the river of blood and gore, you go from Sam Raimi to Peter Jackson to this film, which delights in showing ways that zombie bodies can be desiccated, destroyed and decimated. And if you love wrestlers beating up the undead, well, John West has an entire musical number where he explains how tough he is and how much he loves to rekill the living dead.

Anyone who doesn’t like this movie has no idea how to have fun. I’ve read some reviews that say, “Well, it gets complicated” or “It’s too long.” I have no idea how one can be critical of a movie where a zombie has its intestines torn out and then sprays diarrhea all over the place. I mean, how many Merchant Ivory movies can give us that? This is pure joy, made by people who are in love with making it. Just sit back, shut off your hypercritical mind and enjoy what they have made for you.

You can watch this on Tubi or get the entire series from Severin.

Plaga Zombie (1997)

Plaga Zombie was created by Pablo Parés and Hernán Sáez, who made the first version of the movie with a home video camera and some high school friends. At the age of 17, they worked with Berta Muñiz to make the first version of the movie that was released in theaters. The sequel, Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante, have a higher budget — well, $3,000 versus a few hundred — but took a toll on the crew. Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante – Revolución Tóxica, the last in the trilogy, was the result of the crew falling apart. Their grup therapist suggested they make the movie but as far as I’ve learned, they didn’t remain friends.

But ah, Plaga Zombie, directed by Parés and Sáez, who wrote the film with Muñiz, is a magic time. Med student Bill Johnson (Parés), pro wrestler John West (Muñiz) and nerdy Max Giggs (Sáez) are trapped in a zombie outbreak caused by aliens. That’s a simple description of what follows, as this is the best $120 ever spent.

This is 67 minutes that recall the best of Peter Jackson’s early career — it’s literally Bad Taste mixed with Dawn of the Dead — and this is just a start for the delirious insanity that the second film in the series will bring.

You can get all three movies on the Intervision box set or watch this on Tubi.

Slow Bullet (1988)

Directed by Allen Wright and written by Kenneth Ward and Jim Baskin, who plays lead Sgt. Buddy Douglas, Slow Bullet is a wild ride because at first, you may think it’s a simple Rambosploitation movie but instead, it seems like it’s a rumination of a life destroyed by Vietnam, but then it’s also a showcase for some Florida metal bands and yes, then it goes back to the jungle.

For most of that first half, Buddy remembers his old L.R.R.P. (Long Range Recon Patrol) team in Vietnam and how they started to become animals, even assaulting a dead woman at one point while being taken apart by a Viet Cong sniper. This plays out while we watch Buddy fall to pieces inside the storage shed that he lives in, often spray painting the walls in an enclosed area. 

Buddy also has a girlfriend that he spends a lot of time having sex with — more on that in a few moments — and having montages with that — spoiler warning — he eventually shoots thinking he’s killing that sniper back in Nam.

Speaking of that phrase, the song “Back In Nam” by Vendetta plays numerous times in the movie. They also contributed the song “Nightmares” while Convicted did the songs “Slow Bullet,” “Still Waitin'” and “Bang, Bang.” It’s amazing how much thrash is in this, but then again, it was made in Florida in 1988.

A few years back, Rogue Riffers posted about this film. Brian Coghill, who did some of the effects for the film, discussed some of the reasons why it’s so strange: “There’s an entire reason why the flashback scenes were done in this acid-trippy look to them. A lot of the stuff they did was mistakes. The hooch we blew up, the shack, that there’s an explosion scene in, that was five gallons of diesel and gasoline and a mortar with black powder in it, and they forgot to filter the camera on that one and completely over exposed it. So what they did was posterize all the video that had to do with those flashbacks so they could use the explosions, but the napalm run was too strong — they couldn’t do it. They had set about 200 gallons of gasoline — they had the fire department on standby — and created this beautiful tornado of fire in the woods, absolutely gorgeous explosion, and it never saw the film.”

It’s also insinuated that the sex scenes between Buddy and Kate (Lisa Leonard) are real and, well, they don’t look fake.

But even better, Jim Baskin responded to their post and he shined all kinds of light on the production, saying ” I never had full sex with that actress altho she wanted it.” and “The movie sucked, the acting sucked even tho Kenny (25th Infantry Div. 1966-67 Vietnam and myself (173d Airborne Brigade Vietnam 1966-1968 and 196th LIB Vietnam 1971-1972) and I tried our best to make it accurate the best we could.”

The guys from that site seemed to reach out to Jim and hope to speak with him. It doesn’t look like they ever connected. I’ve been trying to hunt the team that made this to learn more and it looks like Kenneth Ward died last year. If anyone has any info, man, I’m dying to know more about how this was made.

It was shot in Knoxville and Seymour, Tennessee and Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s astounding because it’s one actor who obviously has PTSD — Baskin confirmed that in the above linked message — flipping out while remembering the past, but also a series of music videos to promote bands. All shot on video! That’s what makes this stand out from the world of Namsploitation, which is usually confined to the Philippines and huts getting blown up without much introspection.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Damselvis, Daughter of Helvis (1994)

John Michael McCarthy has made movies like Superstarlet A.D.The Sore LosersTeenage Tupelo and oh yeah, he’s the man who found Bat Pussy. This is his first film, the story of the daughter of Helvis (Brady Debussey), a rock and roll god who is being opposed by the end of the world church run by Black Jesus (Adimu Ajanaku). He orders them to kill schoolgirl Isla M. (Sherry Lynn Garris, Gorewhore) before she is able to embrace her destiny and free her daddy from his pyramid tomb and help him destroy the Woofman (also Adimu Ajanaku; a lot of people think Jesus becomes a wolfman or a zombie and I don’t think that’s the intention).

Isla is nearly murdered by one of Black Jesus’ women, Candy (Ghetty Chasun from Red Lips!) and this leads to her being reborn as Damselvis, covering herself in leather and fringe, jumping on a motorcycle bound for Memphis to spread the singing gospel.

Oh the people you will meet, Damselvis! Like the wheelchair riding, former guitar playing and stunt death defying Evel Knievelvis (Robert Gann, who did the effects for this movie, Gorotica and Basket Case 2). A nude woman who tempts you in the woods! And oh, the soundtrack! The glorious fuzzy loudness!

Originally a comic book, this movie had no budget and more ideas than every other film you will watch this year put together. This was shot by Hugh Gallagher (Gorgasm), has a zombie Elvis that has one gigantic eye like a live action Big Daddy Roth cartoon and a creator who was brave enough to not only make it, but to try and get Lisa Marie Presley to play the lead.

This is the best $2,000 anyone has ever spent.

You can get this on blu ray from Saturn’s Core, a partner label of Vinegar Syndrome.

Day of the Reaper (1984)

Shot for $1,000 in Florida on Super 8 — yes, so much SOV is another format, but go with this — Tim Ritter and Joe Preuth made a movie that is basically two teenagers playing Jason and The Shape in their sunburnt hometown and yet there are moments that transcend just dicking around with a camera.

For 70 minutes, a hooded killer (Todd Nolf) does what he does best: kill. Kill and kill and kill and kill, killing bikini girls, killing people in white cutoffs, killing as he menaces Jennifer (Cathy O’Hanlon), the only survivor of his killings from before when he killed now. He can’t stop. He won’t stop. Even death can’t stop him. Even his opposite number, his mind destroyed by the electric chair and the sinister therapy of Doctor Bloch (Patrick Foster) to become an unstoppable force of destruction can’t stop this. Nothing ever will.

Do you know how Ritter raised the money for this? He washed dishes. How many dishes did he have to wash, how many hours did he have to touch half-eaten food from strangers, to earn the money to fill the screen with bending video fuzz, scorching your ears with drone synth, messing with your sense of story by just having the death be the story?

This whole movie is made with ADR sound and a soundtrack that sounds like the synth parts that go whoosh on Van Halen albums when Eddie got sick of playing guitar once he lapped everyone else. What’s even more amazing that by the end, the lack of explanation comes up against exposition that gets so dense, like a pro wrestling fan bugging you with lore that even most of the grapplers haven’t considered. The Festival of the Sanguinary finds one violence-obsessed person every seven years to become a specter and therefore become undying and eventually, it will kill everyone on Earth unless you cut out its heart and eat it in time.

There are just as many people that love this that hate it. Perhaps you will only see the flaws, the lack of budget and the fact that this movie was made with no experience. Or, and I hope this with all my still beating cholesterol ridden heart, that you see past that and allow it to take you over, like when you eat way too strong of an edible and have that sinking feeling that any moment you are about to be overtaken by a high that you may not be able to ride out but then, where is it you wonder, so you take even more and you’re overtaken by tracking lines and sticky corn syrup and food coloring blood melting in the humid Florida sun.

Herschell Gordon Lewis once made a mess here too.

You can get this from SRS.

Devil Worship: The Rise of Satanism (1989)

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can read another article about this movie here.

I grew up in the middle of the Satanic Panic, a time in which I would be sent to guidance counselors who worked with local priests and police to ensure that Satan would not take over our town and one assumes that Satan would come in through horror movies, heavy metal and role playing games. Five thousand bodies of unidentified kids were showing up every year, or so they said, and every police officer knew an occult expert they could call on. Most of them came to my church to meet us one on one.

My wife can’t always comprehend the contempt I have for the police, but between being a chubby skateboarder nerd and also being obsessed with gore, speed metal and religion, I grew up constantlyfeeling under surveillance in a small minded small town, a place where people still battle over the seperation of church and state and a mobile Nativity drives past the municpal building, a place where it can no longer be but parks long enough that everyone feels that God is pleased.

There are four types of Satantists or so we are led to believe: the dabblers who spray paint walls and knock over tombstones; the religious ones that are seldom in trouble; the dangerous non-trad ones and then there are the generational ones, like something out of Hammer movies that have worshipped the left hand path since they came to America.

Interestingly, black metal gets called out here — mainly they name Venom — while three years later the really scary moments of black metal itself would play out, the kind of murder and arson that this documentary can only dream of.

This comes from the world where He-Man was teaching children to embrace the dark arts — man, they should have watched Thundercats instead because that show is packed with occult themes — and Richard Ramirez loved AC/DC, so therefore anyone who listens to Back In Black could be a killing machine with a pentagram carved into their hand.

If you ever wondered, “How did we as a society get to the outlandish world of QAnon?” I am here to inform you that we have been there at least as long as I have been alive. This is a place where just because the Church of Satan — bonus points for the glance at the Temple of Set, started by U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Michael Aquino, a psychological warfare specialist — just so happened to exist. Man, did these guys pay royalties for just grabbing all that footage from Satanis? Isn’t stealing a sin?

In my hometown there were whispers of the pentagrams on the walls of the closed elementary school. It’s why we never got MTV — as a substiute we were given Hit Video USA, a Christian channel that edited the videos before they were played — until the early 90s. I’d say look how I turned out, but a quick glance at the stuff that I watch points to me still being headed to an eternity in Hades, huh?

You can watch this on YouTube.

Pathogen (2006)

Emily Hagin started making this movie when she was only 12 years old. It took two years to make and she had to endure plenty of hardship, including the theft of some of the film’s equipment, which was replaced thanks to a grant from the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund that paid for post-production. A grocery store in town also closed down early so they could shoot the end of the movie there.

What’s amazing is that this film focuses on what it’s like to be a teenager as a zombie epidemic takes over and even your parents are powerless to protect you. Dannie (Rose Kent-McGlew) has been having dreams of this world-ending event and learns that the Nanochip has leaked into the water supply of Austin, which causes a waterborne disease that kills everyone who gets it and then reanimates their corpses.

Hagin has gone on to direct and write the opening of Scare Package and Sorry About the Demon. This movie makes me so happy — despite how dark and absolutely dire the ending gets — because it’s made by someone that truly cares about making something creative, as well as people gathering around her to help make that happen. It’s also so much better than every other zombie movie that will be made after it.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Dead Next Door (1989)

Written, produced and directed by J. R. Bookwalter, The Dead Next Door has some famous folks helping out, as Sam Raimi served as executive producer — The Master Cylinder — and Bruce Campbell dubbed the voices of Raimi and Commander Carpenter.

This took four years and about $125,000 to make. It’s not technically SOV, as it was shot on Super 8.

Against the wishes of some still alive humans, the government creates Zombie Squad 205, an anti-walking dead special task force after the undead start to take over the world. Raimi, Mercer, Kuller and crew head to Ohio –Bookwalter’s home — and battle a cult that wants to keep zombies alive because God told them to. That is, if they can get the team to stop watching Evil Dead and in action.

This movie came out as there were few zombie films and had so much hype. It’s a low budget but high talent love letter to Romero’s films, feeling very much a continuation of Day of the Dead. I’m not sure if fans wanted so much humor, but that’s what they got. It feels like a video game and I mean that in all the very best of ways.

It’s short, sweet and drowning in sheer gore, too.

You can watch this on Tubi or buy it from Makeflix.

Masters of Magic (2004)

Director Anthony Stephens and writer Tony Garcia may have few credits but they also made a sword and sorcery film for a budget of about what ten minutes of that Dungeons and Dragons flop coming out this year cost to shoot.

This was on Mill Creek’s Catacombs of Creepshows box set which probably used to sell for a buck at used stores and is now approaching $100 on eBay, thanks to having movies like FungicideTartarus and Death Becomes Them on it.

This movie is so magical that every magic user yells “Fireball” before acting like they’re throwing a fireball and all that happens is that the video effect reverses the color and goes to black and white quickly and I kind of love that effect, one with no uncanny valley, one that people may say is cheap but it works.

An evil Necromancer (Charles Iceler) has been creating an army of zombies who barely have any blue tint but if they say they’re zombies, well…they are. They’re opposed by a thief named Dewin (Marie Noelle Marquis), a warrior woman called Nika (Stefanie Pschill), an adventurer (who very well could be a ranger but I didn’t have time to ask him his character class) and a priest in a pink robe who is pretty much a non-stop homophobic joke, but you know, 2004 was as much 18 centuries ago as it was 18 years.

There’s also a floating sword that looks great. Yeah, I get it. It’s an easy effect. But it was like being in a live action version of Gauntlet.

It’s incredible that in a world where Lord of the Rings can be watched in seconds that anyone would be brave enough to make their own fantasy movie with big aims and ideas in direct inverse relation to their budget. The costumes are great, the synth at the beginning just works and yeah, the swordfights are borderline child in the backyard, which says to me they didn’t fall into the logic of every other dungeon SOV (Song of the SwordWay Bad Stone) and hire some renaissance faire people to stab one another.

You can watch this on Tubi.